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14 February-St Valentine’s Day

Posted by DMC on 15 February 2011 in Diary |

February 14 has become, by tradition, the date when  love messages are exchanged as a celebration of St Valentine the patron saint of lovers, or the object of one’s desire.. The date is marked by sending poems and simple gifts, such as flowers to loved ones or someone secretly admired.. By far the most popular gift is a dozen red roses usually accompanied by a Valentine card, smothered in hearts and other arrows, reminiscent of Eros, sent anonymously. The recipient being left to fathom out the identity of her secret admirer. I suppose in today’s modern society it could well be the other way around with the girls taking the initiative.

In the past  ‘my lovely’ and I have always made a little fuss of each other on St Valentine’s Day. I always used to manage to buy a rather large sentimental card and substituted the roses for a gift wrapped heart-shaped box of handmade chocolates with a St Valentine theme. This year, sadly we have both agreed that we will not make any special fuss as it really is impossible for me to do very much except purchase something through the Internet which, frankly, loses the personal touch.

I have always considered myself to be something of a romantic. When I was courting Alice and trying to convince her to accept my proposal of marriage I arranged a very special evening picnic on the eve of St Valentine’s Day 1961. (At least, I like to think it was St Valentine’s Day).

I was living in the British Protectorate of Aden, in  southern Arabia at the time -now part of the Yeman – and Alice was visiting from Kenya for the christening of, what is now, my nephew William. There was a very beautiful small crescent shaped bay at Bir Fikum, Little Aden. Happily it was the night of a full moon and in the afternoon I staggered across the desert with a windup gramophone and all the paraphernalia for a barbecue. We had our supper to the strains of Beethoven sonatas, sitting on a sandy ledge some 10-12 feet above the level of the silvery sandy beach. An incredibly romantic setting. We were sitting on the beach after supper, chatting away, when suddenly I heard a thump and then another one. I looked up to the cliff top above, to see a dozen black silhouetted figures of what was obviously Arab men or boys who were heaving rocks down onto us. Presumably they assume we were up to no good and in true Arabian tradition were prepared to stone us to death. Bear in mind this was at the time of the ‘troubles’ in Aden, when two Brits, out in the desert, miles from anywhere, late at night, were just as likely to be murdered, as not..

I had no choice but to race up the cliff yelling and shouting at the assailants and, thank goodness. they dispersed. After collecting our belongings and staggering back to the car we arrived only to find all four tyres had been let down. It was now well after midnight and the romantic evening had certainly been shattered. As we were close by the village of Bir Fikum, made from the packing cases which had contained the materials to build the local oil refinery, I had no choice but to beat on the walls of the nearest house and shout for someone to come out and help us, which I am relieved to say they did, eventually. It took some time, however, to locate a garage and knock up the owner in order to get the tyres pumped up and I did not get the poor girl back to, what is now, my brother-in-law flat, in Ma’alla straight, the home of many British servicemen at the time, until around 6.am, shortly before  he brought in the morning tea. The poor girl was so frightened about being caught out that she jumped into bed fully clothed, on concealing herself by pulling the sheets up to her neck so my brother-in-law never had no idea that she had only arrived home a short while earlier. (I’m not sure that he knows even today, but if he reads this he will be in enlightenment – too late for retribution). So much for my St Valentine’s Day romantic evening!

In fact, I’ve had a very frustrating day. My computer is still playing up and my voice activation not functioning as it should. which necessitated a long call to Ben, at AbilityNet, who, through remote assist, took control of my computer and attempted to remedy some of the defects but, despite his best efforts, did not succeed. We have agreed to be will have to  return to the to a regional laptop again before returning his current one. for some more work.

In addition to this frustration I had two Skype calls, one from the good doctor in Australia and another one from Paul. an MND patient who reads my blog. Although we could see each other quite clearly and they could hear me, for some reason, I could not hear them. I subsequently went through the whole business of diagnosing my sound system but without success so here again, I suspect, I will need some professional help.

A late visitors. Sue, the  local incontinence adviser, to deliver some more equipment for me to use on my days out when I do not wish to get involved with strangers over the loo. At least that was the idea.

She was as charming and sensitive as always in discussing the difficulties I might face if I Alice is not with me and has talked me into various options which, in the spirit of

1 Comment

  • Christine says:

    As for Skype – I have had the same problem, with lack of sound, that you describe. I live on Vancouver Island in Western Canada and try to speak to my sisters in UK. I even changed my sound system but everyone now believes it is a Skype problem due to overload. If you do find a solution I would love to hear about it. PS: Loved the Valentine’s story……

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