Valentine's Day - the 16th Best Day of the Year* for Lovers by Sally Phillips for The Handpicked Collection

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A brilliantly witty look at the highs and lows of Valentine's Day and the gifts we give, by award winning actress and comedienne Sally Phillips.

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Valentine's Day. The day I try hardest not to look like a gerbil (difficulty level 5) approaches. I take five online 'How Romantic Are You?' tests and do not score highly. This is a shock. I pride myself on being the 12th least emotionally stunted comedian in the country and (arguably) the second most romantic after Jack Dee. True, it has never occurred to me to leave my husband an 'I-love-you-have-a-great-day' post-it note under the toilet seat but surely 'You are spiritless and dead' (MySpace) is over-stating it?

I like the dinner and compliments side of Valentine's Day, it's the thoughtful extras and presents that stress me out. I have experienced few things more frightening than being led blindfold by a fruitcake Valentine into a dimly lit room full of balloons. I would genuinely prefer to come home to a bed with 'I drown squirrels' spelled out on it in Refreshers than one strewn with rose petals. Producing anything more complicated than a heart-shaped fried egg on Valentine's Day should be a sackable offence. Fortunately my husband agrees. He's still hard to buy for. What to get for an amateur arsonist who is terrified of dog poo and whose favourite film is Mrs Doubtfire? I did find combustible false breasts with wire bristles for Christmas.

I hope I don't get roses again.

How to receive roses graciously: Lesson One.

Receiving roses graciously is so hard the University of Ham is now offering it as a degree course so what follows is a very simplistic overview. Say "ohTHANKYOUtheyresoBEAUTIFUL!" with meaning, inhale deeply and pretend they smell of something. You must not then leave them in the sink - unwrap them immediately and attempt to hack the bottom section of the stems off at an angle with your kitchen scissors. Although this will be akin to cutting an Action Man's leg off with a Twix you must persist as whipping out bread knives and shears etc will make you look unfeminine and scare your Valentine. As will screaming 'sh*t me' when the thorns get stuck in your thumbs.

Do not hammer the stems with a meat mallet in front of your Valentine for the same reason, also because it kills the flowers. N.B. if your roses do not come with rosefood you CANNOT, it turns out, make your own by tipping caster sugar into the water instead, though this is a fun way to grow Quorn. Try to put your roses in something classy, like a vase or spaghetti jar. Using a decapitated Matey bottle may seem ungrateful.

If you are still excited about your evening after all that then you may be experiencing lurrrve and will probably get distracted and forget to put any water in and your roses will wizen. Oh well. Thank God I don't live in America where Valentining is such a serious business people who score twos on 'How Romantic Are You?' quizzes are left in swamps to be eaten by alligators.

My husband and I may never do Valentine's on a pink horse, pockets jammed with doves but deep down we're very romantic. Maybe very deep down and maybe romantic in the way a homophobe may, deep down, one day, turn out to be gay... but we're up for the 14th. We like each other. We have a copy of this catalogue. And we can tango.

  • Anniversary (1), Christmas (2), Enjoyable family/friend Birthdays (3,4,5,6), Bringing baby home from hospital (7), Baby sleeps through night (8), Give baby lemon (9), Baby says 'Mama' (10) and Dada (11) for first time, tadpoling day (12), duvet day (13), bier festival (14) sporting events (15)

About the Author:
Sally Phillips is writing for The Handpicked Collection, a website and catalogue featuring a selection of unique and thoughtful gift ideas for Valentine's Day and beyond.

Sally has been writing and performing comedy since 1992. Credits include Smack the Pony, I'm Alan Partridge, Bridget Jones' Diary, Green Wing and Jam and Jerusalem. Her favourite productions to date, however, are her two children, Olly and Luke. She can't dance, draw or iron but she loves animals, the work of the late, great Bill Hicks, and buying presents.

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