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Valentine's Day: Clementine is looking for love


Clementine visits The Forum in Norwich to learn about Valentine's traditions

People in Norfolk traditionally make an extra effort to get Valentine's Day hearts fluttering.

As a county of romantics, here it was customary to send a gift to your sweetheart, while in other parts of Britain, a solitary love letter or card would do.

Clementine decided she should investigate the history behind Norfolk's romantic notions - though it was probably more to do with the fact she's the kind of girl who likes a free gift!

Clementine normally loves all things pink, but when it comes to Valentine's Day she's happy to see red - red roses, red hearts, red scented candles and with a bit of luck, a gorgeous pair of red Jimmy Choo's.

"I love Valentine's Day, it's just so romantic. All those hearts, the cards and of course, being a Norfolk girl at the centre of my little plastic heart, a visit from Jack Valentine," she said.

Jack Valentine

Jack Valentine is an old Norfolk ritual, otherwise known as Old Father Valentine or Old Mother Valentine.

The enigmatic character appears on Valentine's Day morning, but disappears into thin air after knocking at the door and dropping off gifts.

"I hope he's got a good lawyer," said Clementine.

"I love Jack dearly, but when Santa finds out what he's up to there's going to be trouble!

Clementine, the living fashion doll, outside The Forum in Norwich (Photo: Mark Mander)
Through her research, Clementine found Norfolk to be a county of lovers

"Let's face it - turning up out of thin air once a year, leaving presents and disappearing without a trace - it's the same act. It's a law suit just waiting to happen."

Despite Clementine spending hours doing research into the origins of Jack Valentine, his story remains shrouded in mystery.

"It's unclear when Jack first emerged, but children are as likely as adults to receive a visit," said Clementine.

"I found out that during the early 20th Century, youngsters would probably be given an offering bought from the village shop, while lovers would be more generous," she added.

Although little is known about the history of Jack Valentine, it is a popular custom which people from the county appear to take with them to other parts of the world.

BBC Norfolk had an e-mail from a Norfolk expatriate living in America who says she plans to continue the tradition for her young daughter.

This may explain why although Clementine now lives in the centre of London's fashion district, she's convinced that Jack will still find her.

"I love Jack Valentine. I'm sure he's a real action man and it's touching to think he still remembers me year-after-year. One day, I'll catch him before he disappears," said Clementine.

A county of romantics

The history books show that Norfolk is big on romance.

In Victorian times more money was often spent on Valentine's gifts than Christmas presents with the county's lovers going to great lengths to anonymously swap parcels on the day before Valentine's.

Across Norfolk, Valentine's Eve was a good humoured affair and as eagerly anticipated as Christmas Eve. People would fill a bag with love tokens to give away, bumping into friends in the street and sharing jokes along the way.

Clementine's special Valentine's Day message

In the 1800s, Norfolk children would set out before dawn to sing rhymes in exchange for sweets, cakes and pennies. One favourite local verse was:

Good morrow, Valentine,
God bless the baker,
You'll be the giver,
And I'll be the taker.

Clementine's story

Clementine came to life following a freak accident when a falling satellite exploded into a plastics factory.

She now lives in London, but her road to fame and fortune started on a beach in Sheringham, when she was discovered splashing in the surf looking for Mermen by Norfolk puppeteer Mark Mander.

Now a dolly diva, imagine the love-child of Lucile Ball and Barbie, Clementine works as a singing star, fashion icon and TV presenter with her tiny feet steeped in both fantasy and reality.

Sometimes she can be as sassy as Samantha from Sex in The City and at others, as naive as Ugly Betty!

Clementine: Valentine's greeting
11 Feb 10 |  Things to do
Spend Valentine's Day in Norfolk
03 Feb 10 |  Things to do



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