Sunday, 14 February 2010

Saint? Valentine?

'Come live with me and be my Love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That hills and valleys, dale and field,
And all the craggy mountains yield.

Men were charmers ever! Marlowe in the mid sixteenth century went on to list a whole lot of things he would provide for his love should she choose him. Gowns of finest wool, slippers with pure gold buckles...I could go on. Mind you all men were not so poetic about it in those days. The earliest lonely hearts ad has been found - dated 1695 - and here the young man stipulated that he wishes to meet a Gentlewoman with a fortune of £3000 of thereabouts. So he wasn't pulling any punches, was he?

The fact that there was probably no Saint Valentine doesn#t seem to matter much. I think the general opinion is that the festival goes back to Roman times and celebrated Lupercal, when the young men used to go around Rome beating young women with twigs - a practice said to eliminate sterility in women(I think in those days it was not even contemplated that the sterility problem could be with the man!)

When I was a child we always used to believe that on St Valentine's day the birds began to have thoughts of pairing up. Judging by the goings on at our bird table - where countless cock blackbirds are strutting their stuff and fighting each other, where collared doves are already flitting back and forth with tiny twigs (they are the worst possible nest builders - they build in our Scots pines and the eggs fall through on to the lawn) and the pheasants are positively luminescent - our surmise was not far wrong.

But thinking of today's young men and women - how do they meet these days? When I look back at my Family History, my mother's family lived within a twenty mile radius as far back as I have traced. Each generation married somebody from their own village - or in the case of the women, from the village where they happened to be in service. Of course, we have no way of knowing how happy the marriages were, because in those days you had no option but to stick together, come what may.
Certainly in my family, I was the first to marry somebody who had not been born in the area. How did I meet him - well we worked together. In the case of my second marriage we lived near to each other and fortuitously the village footpath went through the farmer's land. But I was an incomer (or an offcum'd'un as they are called round here). These days social mobility means that hardly ever do people stay in the same place as they were born.

So how do people meet each other? We had village dances, we all went to church or chapel, we took part in all the village activities (and a lot of these I suspect were popular because it was an opportunity to size up possible suitors) - there were countless ways. I am not so sure there are those opportunities these days.

On the subject of Valentine's Day - I must say that farmers and Valentine's Day are not used in the same sentence. As somebody wrote in our local paper yesterday - what do farmers give their lady loves on Valentine's Day? Answer - hogs and kisses.

Where did you meet your partner?


Kim Palmer said...

It has been much too long since I popped in Pat! I love that particular piece of prose, one of my favs! Lets see, Hubby and I met through my work, he popped in to visit a friend at the business where I was working and the rest is history as they say! Apparently you dont mention valentines and my hubby's name in the same paragraph either, LOL! Love your blog banner pic too. What a wonderful piece or architecture!

Rachel Fox said...

We met in a pub in Leeds. I was running a ridiculous pop quiz affair with a friend and Mark and his team mate quite often won first prize. He was quiet and mysterious and everyone I knew was very noisy.

mrsnesbitt said...

At a party! 22 years ago! Funny thing is, we both dislike parties Funny eh?

Ann Christy said...

Another really interesting piece Pat. I met my husband at the swimming pool - in the days when I just took it for granted that wearing a swimsuit or bikini was absolutely fine. Do I wera them now - we won't even go there!!!
As for the birds - well the collard doves try every year to build a nest on the bracket of our sky dish! The only thing they suceed in doing is to make a great mess of twigs for us to clear up. Will they never learn!

Heather said...

I met my husband through work - I worked in one bank and he in the one across the road. One of my great-greatgrandmothers was a dairy maid on a Devon farm and married an itinerant stone dresser from Yorkshire. He travelled from farm to farm re-cutting the stones used to grind the corn. Nowadays many young people seem to meet in pubs and clubs - not nearly so romantic but they probably think it more so. Times change.

Robin Mac said...

What a lovely blog, and how times have changed. I met my husband when hecame to Brisbane to buy the first computer for his research institute in Mackay. My son and daughter-in-law met on the internet (a university social club). I think many people in Australia often moved long distances to be married several generations ago, especially as there were not many women in the vast unsettled interior of the country. As for the birds, pigeons of any sort seem to just as stupid in any country about building secure nests. I often wonder how the race survives. Cheers, Robin

Anonymous said...

Imaging those beatings with twigs... Good Lord.

Today so many meet through the internet, and that's a good thing and a bad thing for many reasons.

My husband and I met at my place of work, I was a legal secretary who had just moved to Connecticut from New York and he was a client of my boss. As he put it, he liked my behind in a skirt. Tsk!. So much for the romance in it all :-)

Hogs and Kisses to you on Valentines day -

Miranne said...

We met at a dance - but he had had too much to drink, so I didn't think much of him that night. Things improved later :o)

Thank you for visiting my blog. I haven't decided yet whether to blog in English or not. Norwegian is my first language, and is what I feel comfortable with - but there are so many interesting bloggers that for some reason don't read it.

You are right about the embroidery - I am making a linen shirt as part of the national (regional, really) costume for my daughter who is 15. The embroidery is a traditional pattern.

steven said...

hi weaver, i bet you it's because farmers (and teachers!) know that love isn't a one day event!!! have a sweet day in the dale!! steven

Titus said...

Utterly bizarrely, and fate surely took a hand. I worked and lived in Bristol, he in Glasgow.

Fate threw us together when the D.S. on the Scottish Crime Squad (didn't believe him on the phone at first as his name was Jimmy Scotland) requested my services on an operation in Scotland (I had a very specialist role and was used throughout the U.K.).

Love at first sight. Took my coming up the next year for a second operation before either of us made a move though.

And he asked me to marry him before we had even kissed or held hands. And I said yes.

Golden West said...

My partner and I were childhood friends who hadn't seen each other in 19 years. Our paths crossed again when my contractor hired him on to do improvements to my antiques store. That was 17 years ago, and although we have no intentions of marriage and do not live together, we have been a couple ever since.

Leenie said...

I enjoy your informative and fun posts. We met on the same campus where DH eventually taught hundreds of students. Although there were years in between when we lived other places.

Amanda Sheridan said...

Hi Pat. Just popped in to let you know that there's a little something for you over on my blog.

Bovey Belle said...

I met mine when I was part of a group who used to do the Telegraph crossword down the pub of a weekend. I was someone else's girlfriend at the time, but needless to say, that didn't last!

Mine got sufficiently romantic today to buy me a beautiful tapestry cushion with a picture of Corfe Castle on it (we used to live in Dorset) - ahem, from the car boot sale!

Crafty Green Poet said...

I met my partner on a field trip with Scottish Wildlife Trust. We went on several of these trips together before we actually started really talking to each other.

Pondside said...

We met in a swimming pool where I was a lifeguard. That was nearly 40 years ago, and I don't 'do' bathing suits any more!

Sandy said...

I met my sweet hubby at college (Kent State University, Kent, Ohio) - in "Philosophy of Law" class. We had lots in common growing up in the same state (Ohio), our fathers were born in the same year, we shared the same values and outlook on life. We lived in different towns about 30 minutes apart. And we will be married 36 years this May!

Teacup Lane (Sandy)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This is such a fun post and the answers to your question interesting.

I was introduced to my husband by a mutual friend. We lived 60miles apart but shared a hobby, bird watching. We have been married 15 years now.

I saw on tv a farmer that made a heart shape in a big field with cow manure from his wife's cows. He had a aerial photographer take a picture of it. Now isn't that romantic!

Happy Valentines Day.

Hildred said...

I picked Charles up down by the North Saskatchewan River on Easter Sunday, 1943. Nt friend and I were in the habit of taking a frying pan, pork chops, fried tomatoes and a quart of milk with us when we went hiking by the river. This particular day we passed a lonely airman, gazing down the river, his jacket slung over his shoulder. 'Slow down' I said to my friend, ' perhaps he will catch up to us'. We did, and he did and here we are, sixty seven years later, preparing to celebrate another lovely anniversary of that fateful day. He would still give me intimate instructions as to how to light a fire!!

Arija said...

We literally recognised each other while crossing Melbourne Uni. campus. A bit like some enchanted evening really. It took some time to finally meet since one had to be introduced in thse days....

Wish I could transport you bodily into my rose garden to indulge in te heady pleasure f 100 roses in full bloom spreading their scent around you.

Elisabeth said...

We met sat a dinner party, Weaver, my husband and I. We had come with different partners but wound up going home together.

I followed him to his home in my clapped out VW beetle and because he seemed to go so slowly I stayed in second gear the entire trip.

Years later he would remonstrate with me for traveling all the way home in second gear. He did not want to lose sight of me and I did not want to rush him. Interpret that as you will.

Ah me, 32 years later we're still following one another.

The Weaver of Grass said...

What amazes me after reading all these comments is why do young people complain that there is nowhere to meet potential partners these days? Why do they have to resort to internet dating and/or lonely hearts columns? Every single one of the comments on this page could happen now - meeting in the office, meeting on a walk, meeting at a dinner party meeting in a pub, meeting at university. There are some lovely romantic love stories here - Hildred and Charles - 67 years together. Seems St Valentine is not dead after all - very many happy returns of years together to you all.

BT said...

Oh things have certainly changed, haven't they Weaver? Jim isn't a great one for Valentine's Day either, but I have jogged him into at least making a card most years!

As for where I met my husbands? The first one I met in a coffee bar near to my parents' home. I had just had a row with them and stomped out to the 'in' place at the time!!

My second husband lived up the road from us in Derbyshire. We befriended him as his wife had left him. Then when my marriage failed, we were both on our own and it sort of happened!

Then Jim - well, he's my internet lover!! We both belonged to a website for the over 50s. IDF50 it was called. It had forums for all sorts, discussions, poetry, limericks, computer problems. Jim and I seemed to have the same views and his writing was very amusing too.

Eventually we chatted on the phone and the rest, as they say, is history! He came to visit me in Derbyshire from his home in Worthing and a year later we were married. That was 7+ years ago.