He loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, he loves me not...

Cleopatra is about to meet Mark Antony in this painting by Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema. Picture: WIKICO

Cleopatra is about to meet Mark Antony in this painting by Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema. Picture: WIKICOMMONS - Credit: Archant

If you are in the Valentine’s Day dog house there are a few ways to remedy the situation... but you need to act fast

Orpheus mourns the death of Eurydice (painting by Ary Scheffer). Picture: WIKICOMMONS

Orpheus mourns the death of Eurydice (painting by Ary Scheffer). Picture: WIKICOMMONS - Credit: Archant

The morning of February 14... did your partner leave the house without speaking to you?

Did you detect a slight frostiness in the air but have no idea why? If so, is it you forgot it was Valentine’s Day?

Now look around the house... is there an envelope propped up against the jar of marmalade on the breakfast table or on the mantelpiece? Yes? Don’t panic, this will be a card not a “Dear John/Jane” letter. The card, from your Valentine will stab a shard of guilt into your heart.

Do not panic, the situation is not irredeemable although it may prove expensive.

Star-cross'd Romeo and Juliet (painting by Ford Madox Brown). Picture: WIKICOMMONS

Star-cross'd Romeo and Juliet (painting by Ford Madox Brown). Picture: WIKICOMMONS - Credit: Archant

First you need to decide whether you wish to pretend you didn’t forget and she/he merely failed to find the billets doux you had secreted all over the house. (NB - you will need to secrete these little love notes immediately or your petard will undoubtedly hoist you). You’ll need to compose at least six of these and put them in places she would have missed. A quick trawl through love poems on Google will yield you the words. For example (with apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Shakespeare): “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways... nine, no, 10.” Or “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Yes, because you’re really hot.”

The pocket of a coat she/he sometimes wears; under the pillow; in the sock drawer; in the box of Cheerios are some of the places your lover might have looked in but didn’t.

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I would not recommend this fraudulent approach, however. It is far better to recoup the situation over the course of the day... or maybe week. At least until they have forgiven you.

Do not be panicked into a rash proposal of marriage... First, ask yourself, are you already married to him/her?

A heart of Love Hearts for Valentines Day. Picture: PETER BASH

A heart of Love Hearts for Valentines Day. Picture: PETER BASH - Credit: citizenside.com

If you are at work today you may have to shoehorn your love-life into spare moments. Why not post a photograph of your Valentine on social media together with a heartfelt message. For those who imagine they are witty and funny this is not a time to come out with a jokey: Rose are red, violets are blue

You thought I’d forgotten

And I had too.

Only true penitence will suffice. It needs to be sincere, not even a flicker of humour but it must also be appropriate because all your Facebook friends will see it.

Consider sending emergency flowers. This will cost a lot of money but it may be worth it rather than having to endure a week of the silent treatment. Do not, whatever you do, drop into the local garage on the way home and purchase whatever flowers are there (or worse, a bar of chocolate) – you will be rumbled immediately and it will merely confirm that you are a neglectful lover.

The cheapest and most effective way to rescue your reputation may be to cut out a heart from a piece of A4 paper, colour it red (the stationery cupboard at work should yield a red, felt-tip pen) stick it to a piece of plain card and write, in your own hand, an evocation of true love either in verse or prose.

I imagine that this gesture will be so unexpected that you will be mostly excused the morning’s oversight.

It is always best, when composing a love letter, to speak from the heart, using your own words and sentiments. If this means praising their spaghetti bolognese rather than their blue eyes like limpid pools, that is fine. In this case, sincerity trumps any pitches to be the next poet laureate. But do avoid being too explicit about the ways you love someone. It is nice to mention their sense of humour and their funny little smile – leave sexual references out of it. Valentine’s Day is about romance, not rampant sex (usually).

If you do not experience a flash of literary inspiration then a bit of attributed plagiarism is fine. A little bit of Burns, perhaps (trans from the original Scottish):

O my love is like a red, red rose

That’s newly sprung in June;

O my love is like the melody

That’s sweetly played in tune.

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass

So deep in love am I;

And I will love thee still, my dear,

Till all the seas run dry.

You might attempt a “Love is...” phrase although if you’re thinking: “Love is... not having to bother with Valentine’s Day”, forget it. It also may be wise to avoid: “Love is... the best thing in the world, after football”

“Love is... loving you.” There, you see, That’s the sort of thing we’re looking for.

Doomed lovers... do not attempt to emulate any of them

n Romeo and Juliet: Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers , wooed, wed and died in a tragic turn of events. n Cleopatra and Mark Antony: The Egyptian Queen and her Roman lover were doomed to die, committing suicide after their forces were defeated by those of Roman Emperor, Octavian .

n Lancelot and Guinevere: King Arthur’s wife, Guinevere’s affair with Sir Lancelot ultimately destroyed Camelot and the Round Table. She would live out the rest of her life in a nunnery while Lancelot entered a monastery.

n Orpheus and Eurydice: So much did Orpheus love his wife, Eurydice, that when she died he went into the Underworld to reclaim her. He was told they could come back to the world of the living as long as he did not once look. But, as he emerged from the gates of Hades, he looked back to see if Eurydice was still with him and she immediately disappeared back into the world of the dead.

n Bonnie and Clyde: The notorious couple were ambushed and killed by the police in Louisiana in 1934. They had wanted to be buried together but Bonnie’s family did not allow it.

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