“Okay girls no shirking,” said Matty taking a sip of chardonay. “Here's the prize.” She produced a large box of Milk Tray. "Whoever wins this one is a true loser and deserves a couple of pounds of sympathy – right?”
“I'll start,” said Shirley. She glugged her wine.
They all looked at her expectantly.
“It was my first boyfriend. We were thirteen. He gave me a pink bubblegum.”
The others laughed.
“That's really kinda sweet,” said Matty “for a lad to give you a pink bubble gum.”
“Not half chewed!” laughed Shirley.
Ew!Ugh!Yuk!Get outa here!
“I thought we said the worst Valentine gift from your husband,” Lulla said.
“He is my husband! Just took another fifteen years.”
Matty spat wine and there was raucous laughter.
“And he apologised for the bubble gum – after I reminded him.”
“Okay” said Lulla. “Jeffrey buys me carnations every year and a box of marzipan.”
“Well I wouldn't mind that. Roses are over-rated.”
“Yeah they hike the prices,” said Babs.
“And good marzipan is a real find.”
“Yes but I hate carnations and I'm allergic to almonds!”
“Does he know?”
“Didn't you ever tell him?”
“Every year! He says 'Oh. I forgot.' And then he eats the marzipan himself and gives the carnations to his mother.”
“I'd kill him.”
“Oh it's not so bad. On his birthday I buy him red wine and Stilton. He can't stand either. I guzzle the lot!”
“Well good on you,” said Matty.
“Fred bought me a bra and panties.”
Really? O-Kay… Wow! I had no idea Fred was such a creep! Several nods, winks, nudges and giggles later she was persuaded to elaborate.
“It was really good lingerie actually but he wanted me to put it on you see and”
not so much that. He seems not to have noticed I have gained three
stone since were married. He still thinks I'm a 34DD size 12.”
“On the up side, it's sort of nice he still sees you that way. Beauty in the eye -- and all that!”
“So did he raise any objection when you didn't wear it?”
“Oh, after a few glasses of champagne Fred raises nothing at all!” Shirley winked.
“You are SOOOOOOOO bad!” said Matty. “Top-up?”
“Babs, you're very quiet. Give.”
“I don't know what to say. Jim and I don't do Valentines.”
“Not when you were courting?”
I mean it's a waste of money right? Plus Jim never knows the date. It's
just one of those things you accept in a person, you know?”
“So he never buys you flowers or chocs or whatever – ever?”
“He surprises me every now and then. He once even gave me a card For No Particular Day.”
“Oh my heart!”
“I've got to get me a Jim,” said Matty.
“Join the club.”
“Well Babs, maybe he'll surprise you next time.”
“Only if he gets the date wrong,” laughed Babs.
“Not like Philip surprised me I hope!” said Pat.
“I thought your hubby's called Les.”
“This one – yes.” All ears pricked up. “Philip's my ex.”
“What did he get you?”
I was supposed to be in Peking on business but things went so smoothly I
got an early plane home to surprise Philip. I bought wine at duty free
and taxied all the way back to the flat and walked in on – this woman
and him – Valentine's Day – making out on our bed.”
– I got it on my cell phone and that was enough evidence for a divorce!
You know he was always telling me how much he loved me and how proud he
was of everything I did and showering me with really expensive
presents. That was the day I found out why.” There was a deep silence.
"Les is a good man though."
“Matty,” said Shirley, “what about you? After all, this is your idea.”
"Didn't think I counted."
“Yeah! Come on, come on, come on, come”
“Horse brasses! Saw them in a shop and thought I'd like them to hang on the wall.”
year there was a teapot, some garden manure, the cruet set, a handmade
rug, a self-cleaning garlic press, the cheese grater, Mickey Mouse lamp,
a loofah, carbolic soap,”
“Woah there! It sounds like that show – you know the one.”
“That's the one – where you get all the items you can remember?”
“How'd'you two ever end up marrying?”
“Never did,” said Matty. “Never will. But Sal's still the love of my life and she's -- interesting.”
“What did she get you this year?”
“Milk Tray! The only present I've never actually liked! Now, who wants to open them?”