The unromantic person’s guide to poems, people, music and movies as an antidote to Valentine’s Day, by Paul Little.

Roses are red, Violets are blue. Not really into Valentine's Day, How about you?

Of all the specially made-up days designed to guilt us into spending money we don't have on things we don't want for people we're not sure we even like, Valentine's Day has to be the most fraught. The pressure to buy overpriced roses, choose a card that's sufficiently mawkish, and pay doting attention to the object of our affections, which is also present on birthdays and anniversaries, reaches its peak on February 14.

Here, by way of an antidote are some aspects of love that might otherwise be overlooked.

FAMOUS VALENTINES

Hugh Valentine

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, NZ MP 1887-93

Valentine Dyall

, velvet-voiced actor

Charity Hope Valentine

, heroine of the musical Sweet Charity

Shirley Valentine

, protagonist of the eponymous play

Valentine Fleming

, father of James Bond creator, Ian

Dickie Valentine

, minor British 1950s pop star

Valentines

, buffet restaurant (see below)

Brother Valentine

, teacher at my old school. Don't worry - you wouldn't know him.

HONORARY MENTIONS:
Mike Valantine, TV current affairs journalist and producer
Rudolph Valentino, silent movie heart-thro

VALENTINE'S DAY IN HISTORY

It hasn't all been hearts and flowers through the ages. On this day in ...

1502 The Inquisition ordered Spanish Muslims to convert to Christianity or be expelled from Spain.

1779 Captain James Cook was killed in Hawaii.

1929 Seven Chicago gangsters were murdered by order of Al Capone in the St Valentine's Day Massacre.

1945 American forces bombed Prague by mistake.

1989 Iranian imam Ayatollah Khomeini declared a fatwah (holy death sentence) on author Salman Rushdie for his book The Satanic Verses.

2005 YouTube was launched.

HOPELESS ROMANTICS

There's nothing like a grand romantic gesture to impress the object of your affection - or send them to hospital.

American Reed Harris hid an engagement ring in a frozen drink but his girlfriend, Kaitlin Whipple, downed the lot before he could propose - or stop her.

That ring reached its intended recipient and was recovered, but not the one, worth $1000, that Londoner Lefkos Haji hid inside a balloon which blew away, never to be seen again, not long after he left the shop.

An unnamed American woman was taken to hospital when, over-excited by her boyfriend's romantic outdoor proposal on a hiking trail, she fell head over heels, not just in love but also off a rockface and lost consciousness.

HOORAY TO HOLLYWOOD

We were going to include a list of romantic movies to watch on February 14 but we realised that most romantic movies end with one of the lovers dying (Titanic, Love Story), the pair splitting up (Casablanca) or one having Alzheimer's (The Notebook) so we'll probably watch Thor: Ragnarok instead.

ANTI-LOVE SONGS

Love Hurts

- Nazareth

Positively Fourth St

- Bob Dylan

You're Breaking My Heart

- Harry Nilsson

You're No Good

- Linda Ronstadt

Praying

- Kesha

Sorrow

- David Bowie

WHAT'S ON

Valentines

(North Shore and Rotorua) as you'd expect, given the name, is putting the buffet out on February 14 with additional menu items - scallops mornay, rotisserie spiced lamb, red velvet cake and whole steamed salmon. (And remember - you don't have to put all those on your plate at once if you don't want to.) All for $39.95 per head with complimentary glass of bubbles.

At Taste for Colour, in Birkenhead - "Paint drink and socialise … We have created a special painting for a special day ... you paint one canvas, your partner paints another and together they become one!" No, we don't know what it means either.

Love is blind and so will you be at Rydges when you enjoy up to five courses served in total darkness. "Guided by blind people in the dark room", you will "live a unique sensory, social and human experience with the one you love at Dans le Noir?". At the end of the blind tasting, you'll be shown pictures of what you've eaten. You're just going to have to take their word for it that the pictures actually show what you've consumed.

Star-crossed lovers should head to Auckland Observatory, where for $150 a couple they can enjoy "a night sky planetarium show that pays tribute to the most romantic celestial objects". You'll blaze like a comet through this experience, with five sessions on Valentine's Day on the hour from 6pm to 10pm. Includes drinks on arrival, canapes and a gift box.

TURN FOR THE VERSE

The romantically inclined traditionally resort to poetry to express their passion. But there's also a long and strong tradition of anti-love poems, including Dorothy Parker's concise classic Comment:

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.

PUPPY LOVE

Pets are among the biggest beneficiaries of Valentine's Day largesse with one survey, by VetIQ, finding that 69 per cent of animal owners planned to buy widdle wuvvy a gift. And there is absolutely nothing tragic about that. As you know, dogs aren't supposed to eat chocolate, but at Animates you can indulge your significant other species with Sargent's Valentine's Doggies Treats in roast pork with cheese flavour. Organic, of course.

AND BABY MAKES THREE

Can't think of just the right gift for your 1-year-old? No problem. At babycenter.com you'll get lots of helpful Valentine's suggestions from members of this online community in response to a request from one of their number. They range from the predictable "a hug and a kiss" (snoresville) to board books. Gifts.com also has lots of great gift ideas, including Baby's Five Star Plush Robe, Valentine Buddies Plush Treat Jars and 27" Plush Teddy Bear. You can probably buy an extra for your "plush one". And they can all be personalised to "carry your sweet message of love on them", which probably isn't as creepy as it sounds.

HIT SINGLES

As well as being a special day for couples, February 14 is also celebrated around the world as Singles Awareness Day (SAD) in which people who aren't hooked up are encouraged to pamper themselves and generally make themselves feel special.