"Did you know that St. Valentine is also the saint of epilepsy, the plague and beekeeping?" asked Julia.
As it turns out, our Valentine was a patron of many important things such as fainting and travelers, the above, and of course love, young people and the betrothed. Really, his link to romance was pressed upon him many hundreds of years after his death, but still the legends insist that he sent a love note to his jailer's daughter on the eve of his execution signed "from your Valentine." The good old romantics of the 19th c. exchanged pretty hand-written notes, before card making became popular. See below:
We three housemates had a lovely morning - English breakfast at Tom's, then an enthusiastic perusal of the market. Now here's the good bit; there I was, browsing away at a nice man's stall, inspecting mustache curling tongs and matching mirror, an old bright red spud gun, antique monopoly counters and much much more, when there, shining and beckoning lay a miniature molten gold-glazed tea set and tray. Perfect. Intact, with each lid in place.
"The glaze really does have gold in it," said the man, and I choose to believe him, though I must say, the amount of times I've heard "I know it's an original. If I could prove it, it'd cost yer four hundred quid, but as it is you can have it for a fiver" is unbelievable, not to mention small labels with "real gold" followed by "maybe" beneath in brackets and tiny font.
"My mother had a habit of asking 'But is it Limoges?'" (my favorite quote of the week) said a fellow stall keeper. Quite right too, but anyone can see that this set is fit for a queen faerie sprite. So I wrapped my midas wares in spare coffee napkins, and took it home to gaze at it in rapture.
"I would actually DIE OF ECSTASY if I tracked down a life-size version" I exclaimed with passion. The plot thickens. This time, Gabriel, Ian and I ventured out to the far flung and somewhat more peculiar regions that begin after the bridge towards the Golbourne Road. And there, shimmering like a beacon, calling like a heavenly golden siren, the stuff of angels, was my very own life-size magical MOLTEN GOLD TEA SET.
That's right, my most random dream came true, and all for a tenner. Six coffee cups and saucers, a cream jug, a sugar pot and a coffee jug too. They will forever more remind me of Valentine's Day and love and epilepsy and the plague, not to mention wishes and pink roses.
Laurel and I later headed out to see the very funny and clever 'Every Good Boy Deserves Favour', written by Tom Stoppard and Andre Previn at the National Theatre. It was really extraordinary, set in a Soviet asylum and staged around a full orchestra. It was hilarious, violent and sinister all in one blow, with music, dancing and solid acting. We also had surprisingly good seats which helped.
Afterwards, we headed outside onto one of the many balconies and up above us, projected onto a vast facet of the theatre was a final scene from "Shakespeare in Love", also written by Stoppard. We headed up onto the roof to find a multitude of huddling couples wrapped in blankets, transfixed by the enormous heads of Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow. So SO much more romantic than a constipated dinner for two, AND it was blissfully FREE of charge. It felt very British somehow and wonderful to watch it on the South Bank, the Thames at our backs and the sites of many of Shakespeare's galavanting escapades a mere minute away.