My friend couldn't make it to a pubwrimo this week, so, yesterday (Friday 13th, I'm not superstitious) I went on my own. At the bar, I reached into my bag, for money to pay for my cider - and pulled out a large red envelope I'd never seen before.
As I stared at it, the barman said, "Oooh, somebody's got a Valentine."
He could see what I couldn't - that on the side of the envelope facing him was written, 'Suzy' among some biro-drawn hearts.
So I went to my table, with my cider and my notebook, and ripped open the card. It was indeed a Valentine, slipped into my bag while my back was turned. It must have been done on Wednesday, which was the last time I saw him - and there was me being mardy because he spoiled my concentration on 'Wolf Hall' by pressing the button on the control, to see how much more time there was left in the recording (which makes a big red timer appear in the corner of the screen.) And accidentally leaned on the control, and switched the recording off, and then had to rewind all the way through the programme to find the place again... And falling asleep and snoring.
There was a badge on the card for me to wear today: 'A Perfect Valentine.' On the front, it read, 'I know I Drive You Mad Sometimes...But My Heart's In The Right Place...'
And inside: - 'Right Next To Yours!'
Altogether now: Aaaaaah.
I had that very day bought him a Valentine. (Luckily.) In fact, I'd bought one earlier: a rather tasteful job which looked like an embroidered Victorian effort. But I lost it. Somewhere between me buying it and getting home, it vanished away.
So, while picking up a few groceries pre-pub, I'd bought another. A rather juicily throbbing large red card, with gold lettering: To The One That I Love. Not really what I wanted, but all the others had 'Boyfriend' or 'Husband' on them.
It had a verse inside, about wanting to spend every second of every minute of every day with the one that I love... Which sounded to me like something a stalker would write. So I neatly crossed it out and wrote in my own message.
Then I got on with proper business. It is 1-50 in the afternoon. It is the pub. There is cider. Write!
As usual, the pubowrimo magic worked and the writing flowed. My Bad Girl is tickled that her step-daughter thinks she can protect her grandmother, and sets out to demonstrate that she can cause GBH right under the step-daughter's nose and leave no incriminating evidence. She succeeds - and I think she'll go on to pose as the injured grandmother's rescuer, and one far more caring and attentive than the granddaughter could ever be. But that's the next pubowrimo.
I think I've written the usual 2000 words or so, but I haven't typed them up yet, so I don't have an accurate word-count.
On the way home, I stopped off at my Valentine's flat, sneaked in, and poked his Valentine into his letterbox - and snuck off again.
But I think I owe him something a bit more stylish and personal. But I'm really not up to handcrafting anything.
So I came up with the Cupid. It suddenly occurred to me how to do it. Get a clipart heart - download and save it to desktop.
Open Powerpoint, and insert the heart as a picture into a slide.
Find a clipart Cupid - this one was a black silhouette. Insert him in the centre of the heart. - But this leaves a white square all around the Cupid, which I didn't want.
Click on the pictures in Powerpoint, and this highlights 'Picture Tools' at the top of the screen. Click on that, and it opens the art menu.
Go to 'Colour', third from the left. This opens a menu which offers, at the bottom, 'Set Transparent Colour.'
I set white as the transparent colour - which meant the white square around Cupid disappeared as the red heart showed through from underneath.
I then clicked on 'Artistic Effects' next along, and tried them all until I found one I liked - it turned Cupid into a silvery grey, shadowed figure instead of a solid black silhouette.
So then I pressed the 'Print Screen' key.
I opened my Paint programme, pressed Ctrl + V, and the image of the Powerpoint Screen appeared in the Paint programme. I saved it as a jpeg.
I then opened it in Windows Photo Gallery, and used 'Fix' to crop the picture to just the heart and cupid. I changed the exposure, contrast and colour until it was as I wanted it. Then I saved it again, as a jpeg.
And you use Paint to flip the image, so it faces the other way. Or to add shadow and definition to the heart. Even an arrow, if you have a steady hand with a mouse. Or a graphics pen. [Later. I added an arrow in flight using 'insert shapes' in powerpoint.]
It sounds complicated, but took very little time. Less than it's taken me to write this blog. I imagine you could use Powerpoint to arrange several images in a similar way, though I haven't tried. Yet.
I've no doubt the whole process is blindingly obvious to anyone who uses computers for artwork - but the whole idea just dropped into my head a few minutes ago. It comes from having used Powerpoint a lot just lately. I have to admit, I'm rather chuffed with my simple, stoopid little cupid.