3 down – Hint: 'Eros' (5 letters)

The author in a suit, looking at the camera. A mock-up of a piece of paper saying "Be my Valentine" with tickboxes saying 'yes' and 'no'."

With Valentine's Day fast approaching, we all deserve to experience romance, writes Phillip Cole, and stammering shouldn't hold us back from going out and finding it.

Avid readers of the Metro’s crossword section will recognise this clue and when the tube emerged over ground this morning, with a reluctant sigh and a sheepish glance around I swallowed my pride and googled the answer.

‘CUPID’ 

In classic mythology, Cupid is known as the God of Love and often portrayed as a winged, chubby baby armed with a bow and arrow. Despite the peculiarity in archery being depicted as an erotic activity, the connotations of this imagery are what is relevant here and broadly in keeping with the tone of this article, in that courtship can often be an emotional battleground. 

Valentine’s Day approaches and with it all the fond memories and dramatic events which this time of year brings to mind. The over-saturation of romantic novels on the bookshelves is symptomatic of the cultural prominence and mystique around the ideas of love and lust. 

Hopes

Despite our vehement objections, even the most hardened of us would like to believe that there is someone out there who perfectly subscribes to our ideals and shares all our hopes, dreams and frustrating neurotic tendencies. There is an implicit willingness to be swept off our feet and experience the ‘love at first sight’ which we are so often bombarded with through media. 

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For some, this way of thinking peaks during our adolescent years where the optimism of youth facilitates a world-view rich with promise and potential – prior to that first heart-break and comfort sought through a re-bound relationship with Ben & Jerry. For other more seasoned participants, it is an annual routine and the perfect time to blow the dust off your address book, brew a strong cup of tea and start cold-calling exes and old flames in the hope that you can rekindle the spark – even if only for this one night.  

Having a stammer shouldn’t distinguish our experiences from others.

I can reminisce fondly at my primary school self, breaking the piggy-bank to gather what little pocket money I had left after all the scoffed 15p Freddo chocolates and begging my mum to take me to Sainsburys to buy a gift for that special someone. Like many other young kids just beginning to learn the nuances of romance, I knew my nerves would be at fever pitch. This often resulted in an excessively detailed message in the card, which by the second paragraph had moved from being touching to borderline creepy. My stammer was the last thing on my mind and the wide-eyed grin I (sometimes) got from the recipient of one of my 600-word Valentine’s Day novels made it all worthwhile. 

Commonalites

In truth, having a stammer shouldn’t distinguish our experiences from others. Everyone, from all walks of life and having all facets of capabilities and perspectives, can theoretically share the intrinsic beauty of being immersed in that feeling of love. Irrespective of all the differences we have as cultures and individuals, there are some things which transcend the signifiers which make us unique and express exactly the commonalities which make us human. Fear, pride, joy and love are the qualities to which we can all relate in some respects and in spite of where we fall in this spectrum, it is exactly what tends to bring us together. 

Regardless of whatever ailment you feel may prevent you from fully participating in the pursuit of romance, the experience this may one day entail is well worth the road taken.

For people that stammer, the thought of taking to the streets and conversing with an endearing soul in the hope that you will find that ethereal beauty and spiritual connection, can seem a daunting prospect. Stammer or not, we can all empathise with the sheer terror in approaching an unexpectant person to give them a token expressing potentially unrequited love. 

But if you were to take any lesson from this article, it is that the pursuit of the feeling described above and the value of the journey to achieve it is so fulfilling that nothing should get in your way.  

So, perhaps don’t take Cupid’s approach to the Valentine’s Day affair and arm yourself with the romantic weapon of your choice, but instead embody the adolescent attitude of optimism towards the occasion. Regardless of whatever ailment you feel may prevent you from fully participating in the pursuit of romance, the experience this may one day entail is well worth the road taken. Or, you can always revel in the knowledge that on February 15th, chocolates will all be half-price.

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