We Went Looking For Love in London's Nightclubs This Valentine’s Day

"It only exists for Clinton Cards to line their pockets—though it is a banging excuse to get six pints deep on a Sunday."

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Feb 15 2016, 5:15pm

Ah, Valentine's, over for another year. You've probably spent the day at work asking people how theirs was. Good, was it? Oh, that's nice. Yeah, just a dinner and a drink after, nothing fancy was it? That's lovely. Just a quiet one here, too. We don't make too much of a fuss over it really, still, it's a bit of fun isn't it? Thank fuck that's over.

We don't care what you got up to really, and you don't care what we did, but what we should all care about is the possibility of finding love in unlikely places. In this case, the most unlikely place of all: Rye Lane in Peckham, South East London. We sent our man Francisco Garcia to the SE15 strip to investigate just how lucky people were getting on the most loved up day of the year.

His first port of all was Four Quarters, a bar that houses a few arcade machines. The arcade machines are great because they mean you can spend an entire evening with mates without having to actually talk to them at any point.

CAM AND JOHN

THUMP: What are you two fine looking lads doing out on St V's day?
Cam: We're just carrying on, mate. We're just carrying on. Really not fussed about this Valentine's Day shite, if I'm honest.
John: Drowning our sorrows, I suppose.

That's a shame, it's such a special day. What are you carrying on with, exactly?
Cam: Been out since Friday. Met this lad at the Prince of Wales and just been tearing it up since. Watched the footy, ate some supermarket sausage rolls. Just surviving, you know.
John (glancing up from Time Crisis): C'moooooon Cam.
Cam: Shut your noise, you fat loser.

Maybe the weekender bender is starting to fray you both at the seams. Is this, on today of all days, a bit of a lovers tiff?
(Cliff edge silence)

Ok, let's wind this up. What was your aim in coming out tonight? Were you looking for love, or was it just another loveless stop on a loveless weekend session?
Cam: I'm out for the good times, mate. Not a long time. Except for this weekend, this has been a long time.
John: Good times. I guess I'm just looking to tie one on.

Best of luck, gents.

§

The lovelorn or loved up were in thin supply at the Four Quarters, so I decided it was time to make the 10 meter journey over the road to Canavan's pool hall in search of the desperately lonely and desperately horny. This is when I bumped into this guy, who acted as the recurring visual prop of my evening (guy with receipt in mouth). He told me his name was Michael and that he holds 'some exceptionally strong opinions on Valentine's Day' and love in a more general sense.

MICHAEL

THUMP: You don't look like a man who needs an antiquated excuse to go out. So what are you doing out on Valentine's day? Are you looking for love, or is this just another Sunday for you?
Michael: It's a load of shit. Who cares? Roses, presents, plastic trinkets, it's just a sham, mate. The only card I got was from my Mum. She doesn't even bother to pretend it's from a secret admirer anymore. She's given up and so have I. I've given up on 'finding love' and I've certainly given up on trying to find it in a hole (gestures at club) like this.

That's an incredibly bitter thing to say, don't you think that the odds look pretty good on finding a like-mindedly miserable sod in there?
I'm here for the pints and the singing, mate. Hopefully a few laughs along the way, too. I'm not even sure what to say to these girls, you know? At least with the karaoke there's a bit of certainty, sing your bit and get off, y'know?

Thanks Michael. What are you going to sing?
"The Fields of Anthenrye". Class.

Thanks Michael

§

Now, I know it's legally sound, but traipsing round a pool hall-cum-club on Valentine's with a stack of immaculately printed consent forms, slotted perfectly into a brand new ring binder, is a sick and sad thing to do. The forms imbue everything you do with a shiny coating of acceptability. They scream, "this is a man who knows, and does not forget, his procedures, but he's also up for a really good time, honestly, mate.' But, fuck me, they don't half scare away the geese. Luckily, I managed to find a few more people ready, willing and able, to open up to a stranger wielding a camera phone and a clipboard. They included this very pissed, but very happy seeming couple.

PHOEBE AND EDWARD

THUMP: How come you've decided to go out for Valentine's day and not stay shacked up in bed?
Phoebe: It's just an excuse for pints and a curry to be honest.


Edward: Yeah, we both work shit hours and we just thought it was better than staying home.

Is Canavan's the crucible of romance?
Phoebe: I'll be honest, sorry Ed, but I don't feel very romantic. I just wanted food and drinks without having to just sit at the same old shitty dining table.
Edward: It's all bullshit anyway. It only exists for Clinton Cards to line their pockets. Though it is a banging excuse to get six pints deep on a Sunday.

I'll let you get back to it. Cheers guys.

§

As the night started to wind down, and the crowd finally began to tire of the sight of a man in a fedora DJing to a sparsely populated room on a Sunday night, on Valentine's Day, I was grateful that there was one last couple willing to talk to me.

EMILY AND HOLLY

THUMP: How have you respective Valentine's Days been, and why are you out and not with baes?
Emily: Alright, yeah. We come for the karaoke quite a bit, so it's not the reason we're out. I guess it's an excuse to drown our sorrows a bit. My ex sent me a Facebook message, that's about as the extent of today's romance for me.
Holly: It's better than staying in with the realisation of your crippling loneliness. I woke up to a couple having furious sex this morning which cemented how lonely I truly am. They were shagging to Green Day, which I thought was pretty cool, though. So yeah, It's been a great day!

§

So that was it, I'd invaded the personal space of enough lonely and loved up people for one night. I was going home, back to my incredibly understanding girlfriend who knows that there's only rival for her affections: highly readable content (my first and most abiding love).

What had I learned from delving into the realms of the heart on a bitterly cold Sunday night? Fuck all, really. You'd be better off asking this guy for the answers. The last word came from Michael, another four pints deep by the looks of things.

THUMP: Did you end up finding love?
Michael: Mate, I don't know. But the crowd loved me and I loved them.

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