The time Peter Gilham saved Valentine’s Day.

14 Feb

Ahh, Valentine’s Day. For some, emotional blackmail. Held to ransom by the likes of Clinton Cards. For others a more personal time, when the date actually means something genuine. A time when Brentford took on Southend United at Griffin Park back in 2006. My first time officially ‘stepping out’ with the now (incredibly, still) Mrs. Bruzon. Rachel.

As a general rule I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. Let’s just be clear on that front. What used to be a wonderful occasion of sending mysterious cards to secret crushes has now changed beyond compare. That ritual is more commonly known as ‘stalking’ these days whilst if you believe the hype from card merchants such as Scribbler, Moonpig and Keith Stroud, any failure to shower your other half with mass produced tat on the specific day they tell you to makes you some sort of marital flop or romantic wet fish. And that’s if you are even in a relationship. What must they think of singleton ‘failures’?

Yet nothing says ‘l love you’ less than buying a crappy bear holding a cushioned heart on February 14th. If you need to be told to buy a card or gift on one, specific day to prove your love for somebody then that relationship is already fatally holed below the waterline.

It’s up there with Christmas for the ‘Can I just check – were definitely not doing anything this year?’ stakes and mutual agreement is then made. I then bottle it though. Every year. And yesterday was no different. I wasn’t alone, either.

The card shop was a tapestry of indecision. The line of people too scared to jump first was already a dozen strong and this was ‪at 8am‬ . Oh my. The peer pressure. The looks. The risk of choosing the wrong card. And that was just from fellow shoppers. I chose after a good few minutes deliberation that felt like an eternity. It’s a fine line between slush and crudity but I think I got it right.

Immediately, the chap next to me who had been there even longer went for the same card. I’m not sure whether mine was simply fantastic or he was using me as some form of human shield to avoid the ongoing pressure from the queue of shoppers building behind. However, that’s  two of us either in the dog house or in our loved one’s good books today.

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The 8am deliberation

I did go back later in the day, during the lunch time sweet spot. Just for a look. Wow. Just wow. The queue was coming out of the door. I’d not seen this much dithering since Les Dennis doing his impression of Mavis from Coronation Street. Still, that was their problem, not mine. My work had been done. For now. 365 days until the next time.

Besides, nothing will ever beat our first Valentine’s Day together. As ever, my first true love (Brentford FC) came to the rescue of my now true love.

The date: February 14th 2006.

The occasion: Griffin Park for a league game with Southend United.

The time and place: Half time on the pitch.

Putting a romantic spin on things, the club had arranged for rival female supporters to participate in the greatest Half Time competition to ever exist : Centre Circle Challenge. And guess who was up for the Bees?

Imagine Rachel’s ‘surprise and excitement’ when I revealed how we would be spending our first public date (we’d only been courting for a short time at that point). At Griffin Park, with her having to face off to a rival fan from Southend in front of over 7,000 fans. Having to ping footballs from the corner of the penalty box to the sweet spot on the meridian line. In trainers. On a greasy surface. With the supporters baying at her to get her tips out (I presume they were asking for help with the football coupon)

To be fair, it was a lot better than the reaction to the card I got her (from The Jet garage on the high road) which had a footballer and the message ‘good luck’ on the front. This, rather than showering her in buckets of slush and heart bearing teddy bears. Who knew women liked that sort of stuff? Although I guess it helped sharpen her kicking skills for later.

This situation was going to take some salvaging. Fair to say, and understandably,  she was feeling somewhat underwhelmed by the choice of card. But then the football started. And half time came.

Being cheered on by 7000 fans and the ever dulcet Peter Gilham, Rachel triumphed. His words of encouragement helping guide her to a victory that had far reaching consequences. Her opponent, doing the walk of shame back to the away end. Rachel, beaming in the moment. Me, dodging a romantic quagmire as Valentine’s Day was saved.

As ever, a huge I can only say a huge thank you to Brentford FC every time I think of that evening. What a win for the Bees….

From such small steps huge things grow and so I’ll also say a massive ‘love you’ to Mrs. Bruzon. She has has put up with yours truly for a further 12 years. Despite the ongoing collection of shabby cards. And that deserves more than a signed football in anybody’s book.

Rachy ccc programme

From Centre Circle Challenge to almost 10 years of marriage – so far…

Nick Bruzon

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2 Responses to “The time Peter Gilham saved Valentine’s Day.”

  1. Bernard Quackenbush (@BernardQuack) February 14, 2018 at 6:13 pm #

    What a brave man you are Mr Bruzon, it could have all gone so horribly wrong on a greasy pitch. Loving the account of perplexed men, as a singleton there are some things im quite glad im missing out on along with never having the dilemma to miss out on watching the Bees over going to some family function for someone you can vaguely remember

    • nickbruzon February 14, 2018 at 6:51 pm #

      Thanks BQ. It was awful yesterday. I never want to see such scenes again

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