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Monday, 16 February, 1998, 10:35 GMT
The things we do for love
London bus
Making a bold gesture for St Valentine's Day, Tim McCoy's romantic message out on the road.
"O Rose, thou art sick!" lamented Blake. And with St Valentine's Day here again, the chances are that a good few people are lamenting along with him. But BBC News Online's Rebecca Thomas discovers how you can do things differently.

It seems impossible to win in February's annual love lottery.

If you are unattached, the day is a nightmare of anticipation. When all that is delivered is disappointment - again - your heart is filled with nothing less than loathing for couples and the Post Office in equal measure.

But as part of a twosome, the day is hardly less stressful. Having to be romantic to order is tough enough, if not the ultimate passion killer. But, when it costs you an arm and a leg, you curse the day you ever went on that first date.

The traditional face of romance
Judy Connington, director of operations at the London branch of Relate, the former Marriage Guidance Council, said: "Some people have such high expectations of their partners to be romantic that the day can be disastrous, especially if they have used it as a special anniversary too, like getting engaged or married.

"I'd never recommend making a serious relationship commitment around an annual festival."

Does it really have to be this bad?

It's not a bad idea to enter the fray with a large dose of 'tongue in cheek'.

Trolley love

Have you heard the one about Cupid and the ready meal? Sounds bizarre but as supermarkets are reportedly now the place to meet a potential mate, supermarket chain ASDA has jumped on the lovewagon for St Valentine's week.

Sausages become the food of romance
Stores throughout the country have again been hosting Singles Nights to aid the course of true love.

"We like to think of it as giving Cupid a helping hand," says ASDA spokeswoman Liz Burgess. "Singles can feel left out at this time so we're doing our bit. But, it's just a bit of fun really."

On offer for the lovelorn is an evening of unbridled soppiness. Park your car in alternate boy/girl spaces, glide your trolley around those aisles to a medley of 'Our Tunes' and halt at strategic intervals by the 'Love Spots' festooned with balloons.

Check-out via the Singles Only queue, not forgetting to grab the roving mic as you go to declare your smitten heart to a lucky candidate. Fail Safe.

"I think it's a great idea," says Catherine, 27, a nurse from West London.

"I've been asked out three times in a supermarket over the last year-and-a-half. I didn't want to take up any of the offers. Nonetheless, there's something to be said for the anonymity of the surroundings and the way it makes men feel more able to approach women."

Lucky Dip

If shopping for a partner is just a bit too clinical, take a leaf out of reluctant single Alison's book.

Now thirty-something and in the mood for permanency, she's enrolled in an evening of surprise with a group of like-minded strangers.
Tickle your fancy with furry handcuffs

"Call it a blind date, if you like, but without the pressure. A group of 12 - six boys, six girls - all turn up at the organiser's house on Valentine's Day evening. We get to know each other over drinks, and in the interim names have been drawn out of a hat to pair people off.

"We then go off to dinner in groups of four at a number of different restaurants pre-booked by the organiser. What happens from then on is down to fate, I suppose but I'm feeling hopeful."

Online for love

For those who like to pace themselves, or are just plain terrified, there's always the option of Cyber love. A growing number of people are venturing into chat rooms to find their perfect partner.

The innocent and platonic value of the Net affair is the great allure for many participants. But, by the same token, distance is their potential danger.

Tread cautiously. Tom, a seemingly level-headed young salesman from Surrey, said: "I fell in love on the Net and I ended up with the worst broken heart I've ever had. We had this wonderful open relationship, or so I thought".

"After four weeks we were in love. After six, she came clean and told me she was married with two children and that she had only been having a laugh, at my expense."

If Cupid's arrow has already struck, listen up. Forget the soppy card or the boxed teddy. Think Public Transport.

Love on the road

Normally reserved for the likes of Calvin Klein, the side of the London Bus has taken on a new aspect.

Advertising company TDI, which sells buses' advertising space, has offered ten people the chance to profess their love in a mobile billboard.

Those ten include: "Room for One more on top", from Bruce to Daryl. "Ian, my love for you is overflowing" swooned Nicky. And Martin went for the cryptic approach: "Mandy, your place or OURS?"

William and Shirley Faulkner used the Love Bus to give hope to us all. Their poster celebrates 40 years of togetherness with a side high picture of themselves in the blush of youth and love.

The fuel of love

All hot stuff. But if you can't stand the heat...head for the kitchen.

Red hot chilli oil: guaranteed to melt the coldest heart
With novelty love foods on the increase, self-catering for you and your Snookums on Valentine's Night is more and more the viable option.

It's cheap, it's a laugh, and if the desired effect is achieved, the journey home isn't a problem.

Love sausages and heart shaped pork-loin steaks are just two of the options to get in the mood for love.

The sausage is packed with aphrodisiacs such as ginger, ginseng and oyster sauce. Bangers will never have quite the same meaning again.

And, for those with a harder nut to crack, blast all defences with chilli-flavoured Red Hot Lover Oil.

Furry handcuffs are optional.

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