Now here is a thorny etiquette issue that only someone British could get themselves into. What do you do when you are carrying something that sets off shop alarms?

This lunchtime I needed to buy a cheap calculator, so off I trotted to a local branch of Rymans, selected the model I wanted and attempted to take it to the counter. No can do, the whole display was protected by a security cord. Little problem there, just queue up at the counter, tell the assistant what you want and then wait while he goes through the laborious process of deactivating the alarm, carefully unthreading the cable that is linking every single model on the rack together, extracting the one I want and then threading the cable back again before activating the alarm.

All this for a £4 calculator.

One consequence of this rigmarole must have been that the assistant forgot to cancel the security tag on the back of the packet (yes, this £4 model was indeed protected by two different security systems). As a result the bleepers on the door went off as I walked out of the shop. Nobody accosted me so I just forgot about it and carried on.

Two minutes later I enter Woolworths.

*bleep* *bleep*

That was me, walking in the door with my new purchase still primed and clearly still ready to set the alarm off in just about any shop I enter. Here then is where I face the dilemma. If I walk out the door without purchasing anything I will of course set the alarm off – instantly attracting the attention of the burly looking security guard whose day will clearly be made by having something more to do than stopping the local teenagers pilfering the pick n’ mix.

Now any sensible person would have approached him directly and explained the problem. Being British of course I am caught in a panic over the etiquette of the situation and the fact that nobody ever really taught me the correct way to approach a security gorilla and say “Look, I am not a shoplifter but…” So instead I go for Plan B – wander around the store and find something nice and substantial to purchase, something I can take to the cash desk and buy right under the nose of the security guard before walking with as much confidence as I can summon towards the doors and the dreaded alarm sensors.

*beep* *beep*

The security guard looks nonplussed for the moment, trying to work out which of the three people by the doors have set the alarm off. He has seen me make my purchase so is sure it cannot be me. Eventually I have to put him out of his misery and demonstrate that it is the Rymans bag causing the alarms – leaving me finally free to escape the store.

Once back at the office, the security tag is peeled off the back of the calculator pack. A sensible man would have done this in the street outside Rymans in the first place but that wouldn’t have made for such an interesting story would it?

Upon arriving home, Mila delves into the bag containing my purchases.

“Why have you bought a pair of kitchen scales? You never cook anything that needs weighing.”

If only she knew.

I’m going to enjoy this weekend.

For the uninformed, this Saturday is of course Valentine’s day, a day which you approach with mixed emotions depending on what is happening in your life at the particular time it rolls around. In the past I’ve done most of them:

– The desperate teenage hoping that something will arrive for you, immediately followed of course by the self loathing that comes from being completely ignored AGAIN.

– The oh-my-God-am-I-really-doing-this feeling you get when you go out on a limb and send something lavish to someone that you have feelings for but are too scared to articulate them in a, you know, conventional sense. This also is followed by either the humiliation of being discovered or the emptiness of realising you have no way of finding out how your gesture was received given that it was totally anonymous.

– The cringeworthy moments when you actually receive something from someone only by a process of elimination realise it is from the last person you want to receive this kind of thing from and then have to spent hours agonising over how to deal with it. This is often followed by the realisation that the person you were chasing in phase 2 above probably used the same logic to work out it was you in the first place.

– The bah humbug feeling when you decide you are too old and cynical to worry about it and can sit and marvel at the way everyone gets sucked up in the blatant commercialism of it all.

This year however things are different. I am attached, committed and shacked up. Best of all it is with someone who comes from a country that doesn’t have a Valentines day except as a kind of European by-product. So it means very little to her – thus is money saved by James.

On the downside for some reason I’m being bombarded with complaints from friends about how crap this time of year is, how they will hate the weekend and boo hoo why does nobody love them, complaints which of course in previous years I would have empathised with totally but which now are getting tedious. Pull yourselves together people and stop texting me suggestively hoping I will rescue you from your misery.

February 14th is important for another reason anyway, Mum’s birthday and as usual I have nothing to get her. I mean what do you buy a woman you are related to when the shops are full of fluffy teddy bears and hydrogen filled heart balloons?

Strangely enough all the work doesn’t seem so bad when you have it out of the way and can look back with satisfaction.

What helps is the odd highlight that makes it all worthwhile. Take Saturday night for instance. The presenter who I desperately had to keep in line was Mike. Not the usual host of the slot and perhaps with good cause. An opinionated and argumentative man who never quite manages to strike the balance between debate and out and out abuse.

By one stage during the evening I was starting to get quite annoyed at how bad the whole thing was. That was until one caller came on the line in response to a debate about America and whether we would be better off being a part of it.

The caller was a fan of Michael Moore and was in the process of recommending his books, entitled Bowling For Columbine and Dirty White Men. Yes, I know that is not what they are called and all of us in the studio did too, but the caller was quite convinced that was what they were. I immediately dissolved into giggles behind the glass and ran the risk of seriously rupturing something when the caller went on to talk about his latest, Hey Guy, Where’s My Country Gone?.

The rest of his points were almost certainly lost on those of us in the studio. I was unable to see with tears running down my face, Mike frantically trying not to lose it on air as well. Therefore we should apologise to the caller who was almost certainly making a very valid and very serious point. Even if his grasp on his favourite literature was somewhat limited.