Thursday, February 15, 2007

Weird Science of Saint Valentine

Romance blooms in the most unlikely places.

The weird science of St Valentine.

If my opening picture has disturbed any of my good yeomen, I apologise. Once again it wasn’t the picture I was looking for, it just cropped up in the search and had such a morbid curiosity about it, I felt I should use it. (Note 1)

For those of you who don’t know, the two men photographed a la Morcombe and Wise are Richard Branson, the man behind the Virgin brand, and Chris Evans former radio star and former husband to Billie Piper.

I was seeking out some irony (Note 2) to help all my fine yeomen to recover from any excesses or disappointments of February 14th. To try and preserve some semblance of romance, I decided to delay my contribution. While Cupid may be armed with a bow and arrow, he is no match for Cynicism, who lies in wait with several grades of baseball bat and an assault rifle.

Tending to view the 14th of Feb with a rather cynical eye myself, I do chuckle over the whole Saint Valentine idea. After all, he wasn't a particularly famous 'Saint' in the Christian Church. (Note 3)

the natural world is the most wonderful thing. Even in the depths of winter, some trees sprout their unique blooms.

Yet I digress. The reason that the Mr. Branson appears at the head of my entry is that I discovered an ally in my cynical view of the Hallmark Holiday in the BBC. Discarding all pretext to romance, the BBC decided to get to what is essentially what we all hope for by asking 'Is sex on a plane legal'? (Note 4)

According to the article, Richard Branson and Janet Jackson are both self confessed members of the Mile High Club. What I failed to discover was if this was with each other. In fact, I couldn't even discover a picture of the two together. Mind you, I'd hazard a guess that Richard Branson didn't have to have to overcome some of the practical difficulties of trying to become a member in the airplane toilet. (Note 5)

If you struggle to imagine just how you can perform in an aircraft toilet, then the story / myth behind that tree picture will have your synapses bulging and boggling like lycra underwear at an orgy. Apparently, the underwear displayed on the tree is the result of couples indulging their instincts on a ski lift. I tried to believe it, but my synapses shut down. Ski lift? In the depths of winter? Presumably at night? Can anyone put forward a practical theory as to how?

I'm sure that this blog has the various Saint Valentines spinning in their holy relic boxes. I'm not sure I can blame them, it has rather drifted away from the romance and lover to cover rather baser topics.

It might not be a great comfort, but perhaps science may give them a touch of comfort. Not that science and organised religion are often comfortable bedfellows (Sorry, couldn't resist that one).

On the radio the other day (BBC of course), I was listening to a discussion in which a scientist was explaining how attraction is based upon physical characteristics and has a lot to do with nature guiding us to choose partners who will provide us with progeny that will have the best genetic make up to enable them to survive and prosper.

The sap is rising and the first signs of impending spring are showing.

Yet successful relationships rely on personality and the sharing of common interests and aspirations. Discovering whether we will be able to live and thrive will a potential partner takes time as both sides have to evaluate whether they will be able to live happily together. (Note 6)

They say that the strongest personal bond is between a Mother and her child. That bond is formed by the act of breastfeeding and the production of the hormone Oxytocin. The same hormone is produced during orgasm.

Both the scientist and organised religion were of the opinion that you should avoid following your instincts when you fancy someone. Science suggesting that sex could snare you into a disastrous relationship.

From 14th June 2006, the industry standard Crozzy Standard has been applied to footnotes.

NOTE 1: I was rather hoping to find a picture of Richard Branson with Janet Jackson (for reasons which I hope will become apparent later). Thinking about it, I fear that if I had found the picture it would have held the same morbid fascination. In case you are wondering, this isn’t a blog about various wardrobe malfunctions. Click to return

NOTE 2: Apologies to my Merkin readership. This will turn out to be heavy irony and sadly time and resources prevents me from meeting you all individually and explaining the concept with the aid of a halibut and the Ladybird book of irony. Click to return

NOTE 3: In fact it isn't entirely known if St Valentine was a single saint or a combination of three early Christian Martyrs who the Roman Emperor Claudius disposed of. Nothing seems to be known of the lives of the martyrs and nothing seems to link them to romance. The whole concept of the feast day of the 14th February could have been invented by Geoffrey Chaucer and his cronies. Now more cynical yeomen who have actually read some of the racier stories in Pilgrims Progress might jump to their own conclusions.

Personally, as a cynic, I quite like the account of Plutarch of Lupercalia, the pagan festival it possibly replaced. He wrote:-

Lupercalia, of which many write that it was anciently celebrated by shepherds, and has also some connection with the Arcadian Lycaea. At this time many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy.

Seems like much more fun than waiting for a mass produced greetings card, some wilting out of season flowers and battered chocolates. Thinking about it, I wonder if Chaucer would have preferred it too, only was put off by the winter weather. Click to return

NOTE 4: OK, that may be a very sweeping generalisation. In my defence though, I am pretty sure that there is a pretty hefty majority of the male population who would not be seen in a florist at any other time of the year and rarely if ever send a greetings card. I reckon that their motives for doing so on this particular day have less to do with their romantic nature and far more to do with stirring hormones. Click to return

NOTE 5: Not that I can give you any practical tips here – I'm not a member of this exclusive club. I cannot even begin how to comprehend how to go about such a feat in an aircraft toilet. I find it almost impossible to use it for the purpose it was designed without mishap. I dread to think of the potential for me to do a permanent injury to either myself or my partner should I even try sex. Besides, my greatest fear would be that I some how hit the flush button while seated. Ooooo excuse me, my eyes are watering at the mere thought. Click to return

NOTE 6: As my good old Dad always tells me, good sex doesn’t last but good cooking lasts a lifetime. Click to return

Billie Piper – is that a sonic screwdriver in your pocket or are you pleased to see me?

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