DON’T treat Valentine’s Day too seriously, that was the general view of people in South Tynesiders when asked about their plans for the most “romantic day of the year”.
The tills were ringing in King Street, South Shields, this week as anxious shoppers bought heart-decorated cards to hand over to their loved ones’ next Friday.
As a commercial exercise there’s no doubt the annual love-fest is a success – just ask your local florist or sweet shop owner.
But as a true manifestation of love it falls a bit flat – according to town shoppers.
There was, however, one pensioner with a different view.
Grandad-of-three Thomas McCaffery, 77, of Fort Street, South Shields, believes people are “too cynical” about Valentine’s Day, saying “there’s nothing better than finding the right person to love”.
He added: “I lost my late wife Violet two-and-a-half years ago to cancer, and I loved her to bits. She was the love of my life.
“I met her at a rock ’n’ roll dance in Mayfair Dance Hall, South Shields, and we were together for 46 years ago. I would always buy her flowers. I didn’t need Valentine’s Day to remind me to do that.
“Within two days of meeting Violet I knew I wanted to marry her. I was always romantic to her and I still miss her so much.”
South Shields shop assistant Natalie Laing, 28, recalled one unusual Valentine’s Day.
She said: “I opened my front door and there was two pot noodles and a bunch of flowers on my doorstep.
“It was very strange. Then I remembered that I always bought pot noodles from a local shop. I assume someone in there must have been a secret admirer.
“I’m a bit worried about next week. I’ve only been with my partner for four months and I don’t know if he has anything planned. I’d better buy a card just in case!”
There was also a great deal of romantic apathy on the streets.
Full-time student Ryan Johnson, 17, from Marsden, said: “I think I’ll just be at home with my girlfriend, watching TV and eating a pizza.
“I don’t think we’ll make a big deal of it, but we’ll be together.”
Luckily, his girlfriend, fellow student Hayley Raine, 18, from Whiteleas, was of like mind.
She said: “I’m no fan of Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t have any real meaning and I’m not that romantic anyway.”
For Paul Tisseman, manager of Herbert Brown jewellers in King Street, the next week should be a busy period.
In the past he’s even had a customer getting on his bended knee on Valentine’s Day in the store to propose to his girlfriend, with a ring he’d purchased.
He said: “Yes, it’s good for business. This is a time when love is in the air, and we’ll have guys coming in looking for something a little special for their girlfriend, even if it’s just a little trinket.
“A lot of people make a bit of an effort and that’s good for us.”
South Shields shopper and full-time mum Stevie Smith, 21, was less enthused.
She said: “I don’t have a partner at the moment, so I don’t think I will be doing anything special next week. I’ve had the flowers and been taken for meals in the past but this year it will be quiet – unless there’s a surprise in store...”