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valentines The Malta Independent on Sunday 11 February 2018



All we need is

LOVE! We shouldn’t need an excuse but here's the chance to say it: “Love is when the other person's happiness is more important than your own.” Jiddu Krishnamurti 1895-1986.


n Wednesday bouquets will be delivered to homes and work centres throughout the island, cards, calls, texts and, hopefully, a few love letters will reach young and old, the cynics and the hopelessly romantic. There will be proposals and tears and secrets and smiles – all in the name of a martyred saint called Valentine, and at the behest of commercial enterprises the world over. And who are we to ignore such a surge of sentimentality? Bring on the heart-shaped chocolates, tables for two in intimate restaurants, or simply a stroll under the stars and a cosy sofa.

If you are looking for a way to shout your love from the roof tops, or whisper it by candle light, we have some quotes to inspire you on pages 4 and 5. See how many can you recognise. And because romance really should be celebrated every day we've also given you some ideas for keeping the spark glowing forever. You can even discover the origins of the world's most effective love potions and find out whether opposites really do attract. There are any number of ways to celebrate love, the most powerful emotion of all. And we hope we've given you some inspiration here. Nicky

Next best to love is...


lip-smacking, tongue-twining, finger-licking romantic and sumptuous Valentine’s Day 6-course dinner experience, on Wednesday, 14 February, for just €80 per couple. You can also opt for our special Valentine's overnight stay for only €39 per couple on a bed & breakfast basis. For more information and bookings please call us on 2152 1166 or email


The LITTLE THINGS you do You can't have missed them, the cute doe-eyed fluffy animals, hearts clutched in their paws, or the rustic wall hangings stenciled with loving messages. They've been in the shops since the Christmas decorations came down.


f twee gifts are your Valentine's Day thing then you are spoilt for choice. Hotels are readying their rooms for romantic couples' breaks, and restaurants are making over their menus to include as many sharing platters of red, chocolate and heart-shaped foods, washed down with pink fizz, as they can invent. All this should make showing how much someone means to you easy enough. But, very often it either seems not enough or 'too much'. Yes gifts are always, well nearly always, lovely; but surely Valentine's is one occasion where the thought really does count. And that thought need not always involve the predictable. Couples in the early stages of a relationship can perhaps be forgiven for staying with 'traditional' gifts and celebrations, fearing that their intentions may not be clear unless they are spelt out. But those whose tooth brushes have been in the same bathroom for as long as they can remember need a more original approach. It may be extra challenging this year, when Valentine's Day falls mid week and on Ash Wednesday. Late night dining will of necessity be a low key affair on a work/school next day night. And the onset of Lent might limit sweets, chocolates and alcohol from the menu. But, love conquers everything so no excuses, use your imagination.

And, in case you need some hints:

Remember it's a celebration of couples so create something that reflects you both. Avoid too much preparation and effort. There are plenty of other chances to abseil or bungee jump. Spontaneous leisure is required so go somewhere new which offers both time alone to just be, plus either a totally new experience or a re-run of something you have always wanted to do again. Fill the comfiest room in the house with flowers and candles, order a favourite take away, watch a film that means a lot to you both, listen to the songs that were playing when you first met, get out your wedding video, or photos if you go back that far. Find any diaries, cards or letters from when you were just getting to know each other or the first time you were apart. By now you might dare read them together. (Sudden thought, are couples in the future really going to be finding their memories floating on cyber clouds, instead of holding them close in their hands?) Track down a special dual gift, like a rare book, unusual plants for the garden or terrace, a small, commissioned painting, or some exotic ingredients for a favourite meal; anything that reflects your interests as a couple. Then wrap it up or have it delivered for the day. Just once in a while, write a romantic, passionate, heartfelt, handwritten love letter. Texts and emails don't last and they don't hit the spot. You could also celebrate your love by planting a tree in a spot which has a sentimental meaning for you both; or, in gratitude for your own happiness, making a donation to Dar Merħba Bik, in Malta, or Dar Emmaus, in Gozo, both shelters for those facing domestic violence and abuse. And what about a warm, uncynical message to any friends whose relationships are a bit wobbly

at the moment, or a small gift to someone who has lost their life partner and may be feeling a bit down with all the reminders of love and 'coupledom' around. It's traditional in many places for Valentine messages to be anonymous so you don't even have to let them know it was you.

10 instant fail safes Make a list of activities, or fun events that are coming up, and take it in turns to choose which ones to do. call to say 1Just 'I love you.' a 2Share sunset. Pay each other genuine compliments, 3arises. whenever and wherever the opportunity Make eye contact frequently when you are 4together. out in a group, or sharing a quiet meal up now and again with a little fun, or 5Turn seriously useful, present. If you go away, share the trip online, or 6having with phone calls. But don't make out you're the best time; you are apart, remember, and bring back a relevant, personal present; not something grabbed at the airport. time and space for each other's hopes 7Make and dreams. changes and challenges and deal 8Welcome with them together. underestimate the value of a shared 9Never sense of humour. Make every day a romantic day with 10 some of the above and you won't need to worry about February 14th ever again.


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DIAMONDS, now and always This stone is the hardest substance known on earth. No wonder it is such an important symbol of deep and lasting love.


diamond engagement ring was not especially traditional until the early 20th century, when a well-known diamond mining company began a serious marketing campaign. But diamonds also marks 60th wedding anniversaries and have held a dominant place among all precious stones for centuries. At one time diamonds were primarily used for carving or to protect soldiers during battles. Now their sheer beauty their brilliance and indestructibility make them perfect to wear in many forms. The first diamonds were discovered in India, probably as long as 6000 years ago. But in all civilizations the diamond is believed to promote a healthy society and brings its wearers strength. Julius Caesar, Louis IV and Napoleon wore diamond talismans The Ancient Greeks’ name for diamonds was Adamas, meaning invincible, indestructible, proper and wild. And their warriors wore diamonds because they thought the stones would strengthen their muscles and bring them invincibility. They also saw diamonds as a symbol of innocence and purity and that diamonds represented the tears of weeping gods. The Ancient Romans considered diamonds to be parts of the outer rings of stars, which had fallen to the earth. The first time diamonds were used in engagement rings was during the Renaissance Period. They were a special gift, the very ultimate gift of love, in fact. But, of course, this was only a trend among people who were very wealthy As with many precious stones, diamonds are regarded as stones with several positive mystical properties and of exceptional power; able to reach into us and open many spiritual doors. They are associated with activating the seventh chakra, Sahasrara which unites the mind with the body. This, and their indestructibility is probably why they represent truth and symbolise perfection. Understandably, probably because it is so perfectly clear, a diamond is thought to improve the wearer’s life especially by bringing

clarity of mind leading to the positive resolution of problems. Diamonds are also credited with improving our prosperity, faith, endurance, energy and environment. The stones also apparently attract all sorts of benefits including

abundance, fortitude, creativity, imagination, purity, harmony, faithfulness, innocence, increased self-respect and loving relationships. They also help the wearer to accomplish their dreams and destiny. Be that as it may, the sheer, breath-taking excitement of receiving a diamond as a gift; perhaps even as a ring, sometime this week, is the stuff of dreams and only a hardened cynic would dare say a diamond cannot make most dreams come true.



Leonardo Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett in the iconic Titanic


Rhett Butler, Clark Gable and Scarlett O’Hara, Vivien Leigh, in Gone With the Wind

Words of LOVE What’s the most romantic thing anyone has ever said to you? Which lines live on in the memory because they capture love and romance so perfectly?


hese famous proclamations some centuries years old, are as romantic as ever and will still be weakening the knees of lovers way into the future. They come from plays, books or films and sometimes all three. But only use them as inspiration; your own words, straight from the heart, will mean so much more. “I am nothing special; just a common man with common thoughts, and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten. But in one respect I have succeeded as gloriously as anyone who’s ever lived: I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul; and to me, this has always been enough.“ From The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. “You should be kissed and often, and by someone who

knows how“, said by Rhett Butler to Scarlet O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. “And at home by the fire, whenever you look up there I shall be — and whenever I look up, there will be you.“ One of the promises made by Gabriel Oaks to Bathsheba Everdene, in Far From the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy. “Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? But it is!“ From Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières.

Les Misérables Book cover and poster

Colin Firth and Jennifer Earle in the famous BBC production of Pride and Predjudice

“To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.” From Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables

“You and I, it’s as though we have been taught to kiss in heaven and sent down to earth together, to see if we know what we were taught.” From Dr Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak. “In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Mr Darcey’s famous, convincing declaration of love to Miss Elizabeth Bennet. in Pride And Prejudice, by Jane Austen. “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” Catherine Henshaw referring to Heathcliff in Emily Brontë’s novel Wuthering Heights. “I’ve never had a moment’s doubt. I love you. I believe in you completely. You are my dearest one; my reason for life.” From Attonement, by Ian McEwan. “After all, I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.” Anna, Julia Roberts, to Will, Hugh Grant, in the 1999 film Notting Hill. “Love’s involved with spending time together, but spending time apart, can lead to loving even more.” Robert Pattinson, as Tyler, to Emile de Ravin, as Ally, in Remember Me. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” From the iconic film of the book Love Story, by Erich Segal. “I vow to fiercely love you in all your forms, now and forever. I promise to never forget that this is a once in a lifetime love”, as said by Leo, played by Channing


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From Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, staring Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz Tatum, to Paige, played by Rachel McAdams, in The Vow. “It seems right now that all I’ve ever done in my life is making my way here to you.” Said by Robert, Clint Eastwood, to Francesca, Meryl Streep, in Bridges of Madison County, by Robert James Waller. “And I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself extremely blessed, blessed beyond what language can express, because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine.” Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bonte. “You must do me this honor, Rose. Promise me you’ll survive. That you won’t give up, no matter what happens, no matter how hopeless. Promise me now, Rose, and never let go of that promise.“ Jack to Rose, in Titanic. (Did we really have to tell you?)

And, of course, we can’t exclude William Shakespeare, whose dramatic take on love and its outcomes was exceptional.

“Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?”As You Like It. “My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep; the more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.” Romeo and Juliet. “Doubt thou the stars are fire. Doubt that the sun doth move. Doubt truth to be a liar. But never doubt I love.” From Hamlet’s letter to Ophelia; although to be honest, it was indicated that Hamlet had rather lost the plot when he wrote this.

Toby Stephens, Mr Rochester, proposes to Ruth Wilson, Jane, in Jane Eyre “It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there.” And: “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” So look out for it on Wednesday, wherever it may be, and enjoy it.

Robert Pattinson, Edward Cullen and Kristen Stewart, Bella Swan in The Twilight Saga’s New Moon (2009)

And finally, some of the best one-liners:

“You had me at ‘Hello‘.“ and “I love you. You complete me.“ Both from the film Jerry Maguire, Written and directed by Cameron Crowe. “It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.“ From The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green. “I wish I had done everything on earth with you.“ From Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. “I wish I knew how to quit you.“ Spoken by Jack Twist, Jake Gyllenhaal, to Ennis Del Mar, Heath Ledger, in the film of the book BrokeBack Mountain by Annie Proulx. “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” Christian to Satine in Moulin Rouge. “I love you. You’re my only reason to stay alive – if that’s what I am.“ Said by Edward, Robert Pattinson to Bella, Kristen Stewart, in Twilight: New Moon. And, from the perennial Christmas rom-com movie Love Actually come two of the most romantic understatements of all time:

A scene from The Notebook, with Rachel McAdams as Allie Hamilton and Ryan Gosling as Noah Calhoun




LOVE POTION NUMBER 9, 999: Louis Gatt suggests that the judicious use of love potions, or aphrodisiacs as we tend to call them today, has been a habit since mankind first thought procreation might be a good idea.


pparently the men from some of the tribes in, what is today, Southern Sudan used to cover their bodies in goat poo before seducing a suitable partner. This somewhat disgusting habit was, apparently, totally irresistible to their wives and girlfriends… and also presumably to other goats. According to Wikipedia (isn’t the Internet a wonderful thing) an aphrodisiac is “a substance that increases libido when consumed. The name comes from the Greek aphrodisiakon, pertaining to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love.” So now you know. But goat poo may not in fact be the oldest known libido massager. Spanish fly has been around for well over 1,000 years and is still available on selected Internet sites – as a, reportedly, infallible love potion. Actually Spanish fly is a misnomer, its active ingredient the aphrodisiac Cantharidin is obtained from a beetle and if used injudiciously it can be highly toxic. Aphrodisiacs come in many forms, some well known others less so. Strawberries, oysters and, of course, champagne are said to stimulate the production of endomorphins, (that’s gobbledegook for sex hormones). But also on the love drug list are things such as figs, avocados, asparagus, bananas, pomegranates, chocolate, walnuts and honey. Plus one that surprised me, red wine. I don’t know about you but more than a couple of glasses of Merlot and all I want to do is toddle off to bed – to sleep. Even the humble potato is claimed, by some, to stimulate flagging libidos. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “Would you like fries with that?” Of course aphrodisiacs are not confined to the ingestible sort. And if you don’t fancy a wallow in goat excrement there are few more alternatives. I once had a work colleague who had the most appalling B.O. It was so bad that a few of us got together to confront him with, as we saw it, his problem. We were as tactful as we could be in telling him that his appalling body stench was making the rest of us feel quite sick when I noticed him shaking his head. He let us finish then, in a matter-of-fact voice informed us that: “I hear what you are saying but forget it. My wife loves the way I smell and I’m married to her not to you lot.” No, I didn’t stay in that job too long afterwards and apparently, not surprisingly, that particular ad agency had one of the highest

Clever packaging sells fake potions

Clever packaging sells fake potions

A Blister beetle, one of the Meloidae family used in creation of Spanish fly, or Cantharides

Ashwinder eggs, a magical serpent an important ingredient for Love Potions – according to Harry Potter novels

turnovers of staff in the country. On a sweeter aromatic note, men’s use of colognes and after shave lotions are said to have a decidedly positive effect on their love life, just as perfumes are in-

tended to accentuate feminine attractiveness. The one exception that I have experienced is musk. This, to my olfactory glands, vile odour is said to be utterly irresistible to the opposite sex. Perfumiers

Ginseng, works for rats too apparently claim it is one of their best sellers, so somebody obviously finds it sexy. Personally I’d sooner revert to the goat poo.

Musk is obtained from certain animals or artificially in laboratories


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Made for each other What makes two people, who apparently have little in common, want to spend the rest of their lives together?


ove at first sight, is real. It's just that people are inclined to dismiss it as too hasty, or mistake it as lust. But something has to click or couples would never get past first base. Opposites attract is another theory that has sceptics shaking their heads. Is this also true? Well, it's complicated. Researchers have found that people are more easily attracted to, and more likely to have a romantic relationship with, someone like them. Which, if you think about it is pretty obvious. Shared beliefs, educational standards and general interests or experiences are the nub of beginning and developing lasting relationships.

But are couples who are an obvious match any happier than those who start out with little in common? Two researchers, Nathan Hudson and Chris Fraley, set out to find the answer by subjecting 174 couples, between the ages of 18 and 25, to five series of tests over a year. The couples were mostly white and included one gay and one lesbian couple. Nearly all were in stable, exclusive relationships ranging from a month to seven years, with 17 months being the average. Hudson and Fraley began by referring to five important

personality traits: agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, extraversion and openness to experience, and asked the couples to rate themselves and their partners in all five. The results were revealing. Partners who were alike in agreeableness and similar in emotional stability were more satisfied in their relationships. But when both were alike in extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness it did not guarantee a satisfactory relationship. So, being alike in every way does not make a relationship

more fulfilling. And yet, it also came out that if partners think they are similar, whether they really are or not, they too have better relationships. It more or less boils down to the obvious fact some personality traits complement each other and others compete, the more extrovert ones being most likely to rock the relationship boat. The way a couple functions together is also based on the attachments they formed from babyhood. These are far-reaching and can influence their relationship, even subconsciously.

Individuals who experienced loving and consistent early care develop secure attachments but those whose early care was neglected or inadequate will suffer from insecure attachment. Those with insecure attachment issues often feel that others will be unresponsive. They may have a negative outlook, be uneasy in close relationships and avoid intimacy. They may also have attachment anxieties, a lack of self confidence and a need to 'cling' to others. People with secure attachment levels are most satisfied with their relationships when their and their partner's personalities are at least moderately similar, giving them a 'counterdependence' which is comfortable. Highly anxious people, however, are happier in relationships with partners who are either very like them or the complete opposite. The similarity offers them a feeling of unity, and the difference may encourage them to rely on their partners and be a way to compensate for their own shortcomings. In conclusion, opposites do attract. The power of love can make any differences seem worth understanding and accepting. And, as so often happens, happy couples grow more and more alike anyway.

Valentine's supplement  
Valentine's supplement