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You are in: Norfolk > Places > Places features > Valentine's Day: Clementine goes looking for love

Clementine surrounded by red roses

Clementine sets the mood with red roses

Valentine's Day: Clementine goes looking for love

Clementine, the living fashion doll, shares Norfolk's Valentine's Day traditions and offers her top tips for creating a romantic atmosphere that's guaranteed to ignite the flames of passion.

People in Norfolk traditionally make an extra effort to get Valentine's Day hearts fluttering.

As a county of romantics, here it was customary to send a gift to your sweetheart, while in other parts of Britain, a solitary love letter or card would do.

Clementine decided she should investigate the history behind Norfolk's romantic notions - though it was probably more to do with the fact she's the kind of girl who likes a free gift!

Clementine normally loves all things pink, but when it comes to Valentine's Day she's happy to see red. Red roses, red hearts, red scented candles and with a bit of luck, a gorgeous pair of red Jimmy Choo's.

On Valentine's Day, even a red bill will carry the sweet smell of romance for the dolly diva!

"I love Valentine's Day, it's just so romantic. All those hearts, the cards and of course, being a Norfolk girl at the centre of my little plastic heart, a visit from Jack Valentine," she said.

Jack Valentine

Jack Valentine is an old Norfolk ritual, otherwise known as Old Father Valentine or Old Mother Valentine. The enigmatic character appears on Valentine's Day morning, but disappears into thin air after knocking at the door and dropping off their gifts.

Clementine gets a Valentine's Day card

Clementine gets a Valentine's Day card

"I hope he's got a good lawyer," said Clementine.

"I love Jack dearly, but when Santa finds out what he's up to there's going to be trouble!

"Let's face it - turning up out of thin air once a year, leaving presents and disappearing without a trace - it's the same act. It's a law suit just waiting to happen."

Despite Clementine spending hours doing research into the origins of Jack Valentine, his story remains shrouded in mystery.

"It's unclear when Jack first emerged, but children are as likely as adults to receive a visit," said Clementine.

"I found out that during the early 20th Century, youngsters would probably be given an offering bought from the village shop, while lovers would be more generous," she added.

Although little is known about the history of Jack Valentine, it is a popular custom which people from the county appear to take with them to other parts of the world.

BBC Norfolk had an e-mail from a Norfolk expatriate living in America who says she plans to continue the tradition for her young daughter.

This may explain why although Clementine now lives in the centre of London's fashion district, she's convinced that Jack will still find her.

"I love Jack Valentine. I'm sure he's a real action man and it's touching to think he still remembers me year-after-year. One day, I'll catch him before he disappears," said Clementine.

A county of romantics

The history books show that Norfolk is big on romance.

In Victorian times it was a period when more money was often spent on Valentine's gifts than Christmas presents with the county's lovers going to great lengths to anonymously swap parcels on 13 February.

Across Norfolk, Valentine's Eve was a good humoured affair and as eagerly anticipated as Christmas Eve. People would fill a bag with love tokens to give away, bumping into friends in the street and sharing jokes along the way.

In the 1800s, Norfolk children would set out before dawn to sing rhymes in exchange for sweets, cakes and pennies. One favourite local verse was:

Good morrow, Valentine,
God bless the baker,
You'll be the giver,
And I'll be the taker.

Once it was light, their requests could be turned down because they were said to be sunburnt.

Clementine at The Forum, Norwich

Clementine at The Forum, Norwich

Romantic reading

Clementine spent a morning in the Millennium Library at The Forum, Norwich, to research her film on Norfolk's valentine's traditions. She took advantage of the fact that Norfolk Libraries are celebrating Love Your Library – Love Yourself Month during February 2009.

Library visitors will be encouraged to look after themselves and de-stress from everyday life.

And what better way to refresh your mind than with a good book.

Charlene Brookes, materials manager at the Norfolk And Norwich Millennium Library, recommends:

  • Love Letters of Great Men by Ursula Doyle (ISBN 0230739466 Poetry, Drama & Criticism)
  • The Love of My Life by Louise Douglas (ISBN 0330453580 Fiction)
  • The Rules of Love: A Personal Code for Happier, More Fulfilling Relationships by Richard Templar (ISBN 0137149964 Non-fiction)
  • What I Did for Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (ISBN 0061719846 Fiction)
  • Love in a Headscarf: Muslim woman seeks the One by Shelina Zahra Janmohamed (ISBN 1845134281 Biography)

Clementine's story

Clementine came to life following a freak accident when a falling satellite exploded into a plastics factory.

She now lives in London, but her road to fame and fortune started on a beach in Sheringham, when she was discovered splashing in the surf looking for Mermen by Norfolk puppeteer Mark Mander.

Now a dolly diva, imagine the love-child of Lucile Ball and Barbie, Clementine works as a singing star, fashion icon and TV presenter with her tiny feet steeped in both fantasy and reality.

Sometimes she can be as sassy as Samantha from Sex in The City and at others, as naive as Ugly Betty!

last updated: 13/02/2009 at 13:13
created: 11/02/2008

You are in: Norfolk > Places > Places features > Valentine's Day: Clementine goes looking for love

Creating the mood for romance

Clementine is a 'lady' who loves to be a delicious soft-centre of attention. Here are her tips for making your night of romance go with a bang!

  • Light a fire to create a warm and passionate setting for the occasion
  • Fill your home with flowers to scent the air with romance, but make sure it doesn't clash with your designer perfume. Roses in February seldom smell at all, as mostly they are forced. Mix them with another scented flower
  • As well as a little black dress, every girl needs a classic red lipstick and nail polish to vamp it up for Valentines' night seduction. Talk to the girls on the make-up counters at any good department store for some good advice
  • Dim the lights, everyone looks better in the dark
  • Put a selection of soft jazz or classical music on the CD player - NOT slushy love songs. And put it on 'repeat mode' - you don't want to have get up and press play in the middle of playing!
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