I bet the people who sell cards, flowers and expensive chocolate are very grateful to Claudius for choosing a date that means that the cards showing a red-nosed reindeer and a red-breasted robin can be cleared away and replaced by all those tacky red hearts! Maybe I’m just a bitter old cynic about a day when I am unlikely to be on the receiving end of anything remotely romantic, be that red roses or a dinner a deux in a fancy restaurant, but I am actually totally without cynicism when it comes to all the love that I have in my life.

And I can thank the Greeks rather than the Romans for my understanding that there are at least seven different expressions of love and that I have been very fortunate to experience most of them.

1. Eros: Romance, Passion and Sexual Intimacy

Celebrating this is what St. Valentine’s Day is really all about. It’s also the inspiration for a million poems, songs and books because when you fall in love with someone then nothing will ever be the same again. And if, like me, you have loved very passionately and lost, then you know that it truly is better than never to have loved at all.

2. Philia: Intimate, Authentic Friendship

 Do you have people in your life who are just ‘there?’ You may not see them very often but you know that when you do it will be as if you're continuing a conversation that started the moment you met. There is history, empathy and immediate understanding. You care about them, want the best for them and feel both known and understood by them. In other words, you just love them

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3. Ludus: Playful, Flirtatious Love

It doesn’t last and there are few regrets when it doesn’t, but oh what fun it is while it’s happening! This is the kind of love that makes the world go round and is (maybe) best indulged when you are young and carefree so that no-one else can get hurt by it. I remember one or two relationships like this with great fondness.

4. Storge: Unconditional Familial Love

If I was ever invited onto Desert Island Discs, one of my eight pieces of music would be ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ to remind me of the seven times that I have had a precious newborn child placed in my arms. First it was my daughters, Anna and Suzy and then it was my first grandchild Patrick, followed by Freya, Rory, India and Matilda and truly I felt that ‘the sun rose in their eyes and the moon and stars were the gift they gave to the dark and endless skies’.

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Pictured above: my unconditional familial love for my granchildren, Freya & Patrick

5. Philautia: Self Love

Another Desert Island Discs inspiration. When asked how he would cope alone on an island, the poet Benjamin Zephaniah said “I’d be fine because I am my own best friend.” It’s taken me probably half my life but I’m now with Benjamin. Loathing my body, castigating myself for my perceived shortcomings and failures has finally given way to self-forgiveness, acceptance and kindness. I am far from perfect but I’m good enough and that’s fine with me. Hopefully this isn’t narcissism, just the sense that I accept myself for who and what I am.

6. Pragma: Committed, Companionate Love

I’m sure that many of you reading this will have Pragmatic Love in your life. If you are fortunate, it’s what happens when you’ve been married to your soul mate for very many years. Maybe the earth no longer tilts on its axis when they enter the room, but the very fact of their presence is enough for you to feel loved, cherished and cared for. Or maybe it’s you that’s doing the nurturing, but willingly, because of the love that you feel for this very significant other in your life.

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Universal, compassionate love can be found aplenty in my Facebook Group, 'Tricia's Super Troopers'

7. Agape: Empathetic, Universal Love

This is the perfect description of the kind of love that we see most days in our Super Trooper’s Facebook group. We may (effectively) be strangers to each other but we have our humanity in common. So we respond if someone wants advice, we make each other laugh, often wryly, and if a Super Trooper loses a close family member or friend, there is an outpouring of kindness and support. And have we not been showing universal love by staying at home to protect others, wearing a mask and getting vaccinated during the pandemic?  We will never know it, but it’s very possible that by acting altruistically, we may personally have saved someone’s life. In my book that is a very pure kind of love.

When we think about love, especially at this time of year, we tend to value and celebrate ‘Erotic Love’ as the Greeks defined it. All those red hearts and roses are a celebration of partnership with our ‘one true love’ and it’s seen as the perfect expression of love to which we should all aspire. I would beg to differ. Having personally experienced Eros, Philia, Ludus, Storge, Philautia and Agape (but not Pragma) in my 74 years, I’d say that they’re all equally wonderful and  should all be celebrated on St Valentine’s Day.

I recently gave a book called ‘The Invisible String’ to my five year old granddaughter, Matilda. She was really missing the lovely young Australian girl who has been helping to look after her for the past two years and who has just returned home. The book is designed to help young children process the loss (temporary or permanent) of someone they love. The mother in the story tells her twins: “You don’t need to see the Invisible String. People who love each other are always connected by a very special string made of love. Even though you can’t see it with your eyes, you can feel it with your heart and know that you are always connected to everyone you love.”

I’ll just leave that thought there and wish you all a very happy St. Valentine’s Day

Tricia x 

FAO Film Club Members: Please note that the selected film for Friday 18th February has now changed. Please see details below...

Upcoming Event Information:

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Film Club - Housewife, 49

Available on Amazon Prime 

Day:  Friday 18th February

Time: 4pm 

Link:https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86109288705?pwd=TUgzQW5IK0VnUGI2MGdtb0FQN3hxZz09

Meeting ID (if needed): 861 0928 8705

Password (if needed): LOOKFAB

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Teatime with Tricia - Lyndsey Simpson, 55/Redefined

Day: Tuesday 22nd February

Time: 4pm 

Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83440253951?pwd=dnZlSEhYcnFzb1ZxUXhFbm1jTWJVZz09 

Meeting ID (if needed): 834 4025 3951

Password (if needed): LOOKFAB

Recognising a gap in the market for a brand that answers the call of the ‘bet-your-ass-I-can’ over-55s, Lyndsey set up 55/Redefined to fly the flag for those who may be getting older but have no intention of slowing down.

55/Redefined helps over-55s get exactly what they want from life - flexible jobs; legal and financial savvy and new, exciting lifestyle options made just for them.