I have only met Shakira twice. First when she turned up at my birthday party in a white convertible. She let me sit in the car and chat. It was hot and everybody was outside smoking. The second time was when I inadvertently turned up at her birthday party in a basement in Tufnell Park. We remembered each other and hugged on the dance floor.

I like a woman who knows how to love and celebrate herself. Easier said than done, I’d say, that loving yourself bit, but Shakira seems to have it down to a fine art.


Love, or should I say ‘lurrrve’, has been the theme all weekend. Personally, I find Valentine’s Day irritating: either it’s a ram-it-down-your-throat like-a-cock-in-a-porn-film overdose of sloppy, manufactured romance for couples who end up sitting opposite each other in restaurants, ordering from the overpriced ‘Valentine’s Menu’ and trying, desperately, not to run out of conversation or it’s a smug ‘yes, you’re on your own AGAIN, when are you going to find someone, ?’ reminder for singles.

Of course, once upon a yesteryear I took this kind of event very seriously. So seriously I organised a Valentine’s Postal Service from the school canteen, just so I could send X valentine. A queue of lovesick teenagers lined up to post their cards. Result! X got his mystery message from cupid; me and my friends got to find out who had it going on.

That night at the bus stop after school it was just me and X waiting for the 15a. Perfect. No Bethany with her flawless, pale skin and big blue eyes to divert his attention. No Tanya to muck about with. We were alone at last.

Suddenly, and without warning, X whipped a small white envelope out of his pocket.

‘Look – I got a Valentine -’

Before I could catch my breath or loosen my corset or do whatever breathless Victorian heroines did in this situation X continued, his face flushed, his voice shaking with excitement.

‘See – it’s not all corny and naff, it’s good taste -’

Oh joy! X had finally realised we were to be together. My superior aesthetic judgement and hours of deliberation in Paperchase had payed off.

‘I mean it to be from Bethany.’ X gushed, clutching the card to his chest.

I stared at the envelope, the careful, handwriting – careful, tasteful handwriting.

‘Yeah,’ I croaked. ‘Nice.’