Life in the Green Man building is decidedly odd this month. Regular readers will probably respond to that statement with no more than a Gallic shrug as, let's face it, the extraordinary is commonplace here! But there's definitely a mystery afoot in the old place, and mysteries can be perplexing little buggers. This particular mystery is one of the large, deep and ancient examples of the species, something even more impenetrable than the mysteries of The Neverending Session's sleeping arrangements, Reynard's ale cellar, or Spike's sock drawer. The name of this mystery is 'Romance'.

February is, of course, the time of St. Valentine's Day, which we usually mark with no more than a few fond reminiscences of Jack and Brigid's wedding feast (and a sprinkling of light-hearted greeting cards from our editors saying things like: 'Roses are red and violets are blue, you've got forty-five minutes to write that review.') This year, however, some of our staff seem to be a little 'edgier' than usual. What's got them (and by 'them' I really mean the single guys) in a dither, is the date of next week's issue -- February 29th, or 'Leap Day'. This day, according to ancient custom, is the day that women can make marriage proposals.

It is believed this tradition was started in 5th century Ireland when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait for so long for a man to propose. St. Patrick said the yearning females could propose on this one day in February during the Leap Year. The first documentation of this practice dates back to 1288, when Scotland passed a law that allowed women to propose marriage to the man of their choice in that year.

Now, while our staff are all intelligent, independent people (not in any way bound by mere superstition), this 'Leap Day' business is part of something 'tradition' which, like 'romance' is a mystery. They're both mysteries that lie dormant in the individual subconscious until something causes them to rise like water, burst their banks and flow, unhindered, into the collective consciousness. Once free, they find tributaries of expression in music, story and song. Perhaps feeling 'odd' is not so bad. Perhaps you'll discover something among this week's music, book or film reviews that gets you 'in a dither'. So, here's to romance and tradition, fond reminiscences and light-hearted greetings -- here's to mystery!