Friday, February 12, 2016

It's that day again - Kate Walker

Well, not quite, today’s the 12th so The Day  - you know the one I’m thinking of. The one where the commercial world  declares that  everyone should be more ‘romantic’  and the stores are full
of mass produced red roses, cards – some in good taste, some with no taste at all – teddy bears with big red hearts on their chests, boxes of chocolates. . .And it’s the time when, because I write romance, people start asking me  what does a romance writer give/get for that day.

For Valentine’s Day.

There, I’ve said it. In spite of a private vow to sort of   keep silent about it this year, I’ve finally buckled and mentioned the V word. But I’m going to  follow that up by  the statement that really and truly I don’t like, care about or usually even observe Valentine’s Day myself.

I suppose that’s something that might shock  some people. I can almost see the headlines ‘Romance Writer ignores the most romantic day of the year’ – but I have my answer ready . And that is that I simply don’t see Valentine’s Day as the most romantic  day of any year. A day when  a partner buys a bunch of red roses because it’s expected (and they saw them in the shop and thought . . Oops! . . . .) Or  when they give a box of chocolates  that their lover doesn’t want  because she’s fighting to lose weight.  And I really really  don’t want a huge teddy bear with a big red heart. No really I don’t!
This year in particular the emphasis on one day for making a fuss and  buying gifts  to ‘show your love’ seems slightly hollow to me.  I’ve never been a fan of mass marketing and as I think I’ve mentioned before, I don’t actually like red roses – golden ones are different, I had those in my wedding bouquet and my DH will sometimes surprise me with a bouquet of those ‘because I saw these and thought of you.’  Now that’s  much more  romantic.

So why this year does this make me feel even more strongly? Well,  I don’t know about you but it does seem that since 2016 dawned we’ve had a string of sad announcements of famous  people who have died unexpectedly and some too soon.  David Bowie, Alan Rickman,  and here in the UK the much loved broadcaster Terry Wogan. They’ve all sadly passed away and even more sadly, if inevitable, they’ve left behind  a grieving partner who had been with them for years and years.
One of the UK papers today had an article about the fact that ‘romance’ seems to be touted as only for the young,  To quote the article in the Daily Mail:   In the literature of love, anyone past the first flush of youth is doomed to mockery, humiliation and sharp regret. Deceived husbands, betrayed wives, deluded old fools led a merry dance by manipulative young minxes - from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Auden and Larkin, the message is clear: wooing is not for wrinklies.

This is in response to a new book of Poems by Christopher Matthew  titled A Bus Pass Named Desire.

I’ll have to be honest here and say, well, yes, the novels I wrote do tend to have younger heroes and heroines.  I haven’t written about older characters. But that’s not because I don’t believe in the idea – and the fact  - of ‘wrinkly romance’ (horrible term!) The truth is that I’m living  it myself. My husband and I celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary this year. And we’d been together for two years before that big day.

To me there is something hugely romantic  in the proper sense of the term – romantic and loving about  the relationship of two people who have been together through thick and thin for years and years.  They’ve loved each other as young ones. They’ve been through  the newly married stage, the new parents, the teenage angst (their children not the husband and wife!) the empty nest syndrome . . . And that’s why those  losses of well known characters has been particularly poignant this year.
David Bowie  had been with Iman for 25+ years.      Alan Rickman met his partner – later wife  - Rima when he was 19 and she just 18. They were still together at his death at 69 .  Terry Wogan  married his wife Helen – the ‘only woman he ever loved’ in 1965.

That’s romance. That’s the lifetime of love and togetherness and Happy Ever After I wish for my heroes and heroines – and my friends and family.   It’s the sort of loving that, sadly, inevitably leads to a loss that nothing else can fill. But it’s truly special and those every day 24/7, 52 weeks a year moments of love are more romantic than an impulse buy of red roses.

I’m not a total ‘Valentine’s Scrooge’ thought. I hope everyone has a lovely day on the 14th. I hope that you and your partner share some truly lovely and loving moments on that day – and all the days around it and following it.   I hope you have  some  days that are truly romantic for you and not just what mass marketing says ‘romance’ is on a particular date this year.

Because the truth is that as David Bowie’s wife Iman posted on Twitter just before we learned of her husband’s death  on January 10th
Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.

I wish you the happiest of memories of this Valentine’s Day however you celebrate it. 

My most recent book is Destined For The Desert King  - out in Harlequin Presents in December.  I've just sent in the revisions on my latest book
where my brooding Spanish hero meets up again with Rose  the girl who knocked his life off balance ten years ago and I'm waiting to hear what my editor thinks of it. 

And I'm thrilled to be able to say that my other 2015 title,  Olivero's Outrageous Proposal has been re released in the Mills & Boon collection The Best of 2015.  


Anne McAllister said...

Wonderful piece, Kate. Thank you. As someone who is right up there with you in the wrinklies department (a bit further on, even), I have to agree that the long-term is definitely what makes the relationship. Happy Valentines Day to you and The Prof UK.

Kate Walker said...

Thank you Anne! I was going to mention the wonderful wrinklies I count as personal friends -many of whom have long term relationships too- many of those romance writers as well. But I didn't want to 'out' my friends as being wrinklies! But seeing as you have done so yourself I can say you and The Prof USA are great examples of the point I'm making . Long may it last! And happy Valentine's Day to you two as well.