It is Sunday evening. About 9.15. the Shah’s mobile rings. It is his friend and collaborator, Mr H. Mr H has rung to invite the Shah on a BNO (Boys’ Night Out) on Tuesday.
“Tuesday?” says the Shah ruminatively. “Yeah. Should be fine. Don’t think I’ve got anything on...”
At this point, his wife and daughter, who are close by, roar with laughter. Not just because the Shah is too much of a dolt to realise that Tuesday will be Valentine’s Day but also because Mrs H will be wearing Mr H’s Nadgers for earrings when she finds out.
None of this deters them and they make a date for the usual curry and a film. The curry choice rarely varies and the film genre doesn’t change much either. It’s usually a Lamb Madras and a side order of “Shaven-headed man sweats heavily and swears a lot as he defeats terrorist/kidnappers/aliens – perm any one from three” in glorious Technicolor.
Not that it really matters. We don't go overboard for Valentine’s/Mothers Day/Fathers Day etc etc – none of these:-
But we do buy each other cards. So...as the day dawns, I awake unnecessarily early (it’s half term – I’m on holiday) and sneak downstairs while the Shah is in the shower (alliteratively speaking) to put his card somewhere obvious so that he sees it before leaving for work. Now the Shah likes to play little tricks on me and hide my card in the hope that I will accuse him of neglect and he can catch me out. Once he has gone off to work, I glance around, expecting to see a little red envelope peeping out from somewhere. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
So just to recap.
I have none of these
I have none of these
I have not got one of these
Just as I am feeling mega-sorry for myself, the doorbell rings. It is the nice Sainsbury man with my delivery. I haul everything into the house and, just as I sign for the stuff, he whips something out from behind his back and holds it out to me with a warm smile. “Here you are love,” he chirps. “Have these on us – buckshee!” Because I am laughing so much as his use of ‘Buckshee’ – a word I haven’t heard for, oh, decades, I don’t look properly at the item in my hand until he has waved me a cheery farewell and started back up the garden path.
Is it roses? No.
Is it chocolates? No.
Is it a card? No.
This is what Sainsbury’s has sent me to mark St Valentine’s Day.
Yes. Arsewipes. FECKING ANDREX ARSEWIPES.
The Shah arrives home. I complain bitterly about the lack of a card. The daughter complains on my behalf. The Shah is unmoved. He laughs a happy little laugh and pats me on the hand absent-mindedly.
“Never mind,” he says. “Valentine’s isn’t really for married people, is it?”