My husband and I have the BEST love story. I love that we have a love story. I’m not taking anything away from online dating, but “she ticked the relevant boxes” isn’t really Wuthering Heights, is it? (Weird that that’s the first love story I thought of. We’re hardly Cathy and Heathcliff. More Gavin and Stacey. Or Rob and Sharon. And yeah, I will continue to reference Catastrophe in every blog post EVER until you all commit to watching it. Together.)
Our story is brilliant. January 28, 2010, the Breakwater, Hillarys (categorically NOT the sticky-carpeted Breakwater of the 1990s; it was the shiny new version, just for those who were asking. Actually, the fact that it was the shiny Breakwater nearly rewrote history, because Paul was wearing thongs, and – because this is Perth, and Perth can be a little backwards – was refused entry).
Paul had arrived in Perth from Leeds, England, two days prior, with his mum and his sister, to visit his sister’s best friend. It’s a long story. I’ve been assured he didn’t make a habit of travelling 15,000km to visit his sister’s best friend.
His first couple of days in our fine city sucked, because his sister’s best friend thought “seeing the sights” meant going to a $12 steak night and the Leeds United fan club monthly meet-up. Fortunately, he had the good fortune to meet me two days later, at the aforementioned Breakwater. I was there because his sister’s best friend was also a friend of mine. Was being the operative word. Long story.
So anyway, I suppose it was something of a blind date. Paul was single and I was single, and another friend from the gym – Sharon, also from Leeds (it’s a thing) – thought we’d be well suited. She’d actually met Paul on Australia Day, and had phoned me up from the Sky Show. “Ere, I’ve found you one,” she told me, in the same way you’d ring someone to tell them you’d tracked down the free potatoes in Spud Shed. And I was, like, go on then, what’s wrong with him. And she said, no, actually, he’s GORGEOUS, which coming from Sharon is HIGH PRAISE indeed. But I was still suspicious.
On the whole, my friends had failed dismally at matchmaking. I’d even attempted online dating, with my friend Trevor’s help, but that was a disaster because I didn’t read the small print and ended up on a date with a very, very small gentleman. Not a midget per se, but a very, very small human nonetheless. I could pat him on the head. As my friend Trudi said at the time, it was like going out with a hairy toddler.
But anyway – it turns out Sharon was right, he was gorgeous and we were perfect for each other. We still are, for that matter. Ridiculously, sickeningly well suited. You couldn’t make this shit up, honestly. Despite living on other sides of the world, despite me having a four-year-old Ben, despite him having a failed first marriage of which we never speak, and despite the fact that he was only in Perth for 12 days, we were two sides of the same coin, to borrow a cliché, even down to the fact that we both loved Adam & Joe.
You know Adam & Joe, right? The funny guys off of the radio? They had a TV show in the 90s on Channel 4, and then a radio show on Xfm in London, and then a Saturday morning show on BBC 6 Music, which I was devoted to, to the point that I had their theme tune as my ring tone on my, ahem, Nokia. Besides my immediate friend group, not many people in Perth recognised that ring tone. And I don’t suppose Paul – an equally devoted Adam & Joe fan – expected to hear that ring tone coming out of the handbag of the girl he’d just pulled (easily) at a shiny bar with a no-thongs-after-8pm policy (the bar had that policy, not the girl, FYI).
And that was it, really. We spent the next 10 days behaving in what can only be described as a YOUTHFUL fashion – despite being 32 and 37 respectively – quoting Adam & Joe lines at each other, not sleeping, missing trains and giggling, actually giggling, way more than is right or proper for a 32- and 37-year-old, respectively. We fell in love instantly and irrevocably, and he sealed the deal when I asked how he felt about taking on Ben, as well as me. “I love you,” he said, without hesitation, “and Ben’s a part of you, so I love him too,” which was a BIG DEAL considering Ben’s propensity to eat with his fingers and not wipe his arse.
It was all kind of magical, and surreal – proper pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming kind of stuff – but set against the backdrop of the certain knowledge that real life was about to kick in, and Paul was going to have to go home – to the other side of the WORLD – and this would end. And yeah, it did end, and Paul did go home, but – and you might have already guessed this bit – he came BACK! Three cheers for Australian Immigration and their intention-to-marry visas!
We got married precisely a year to the day after we met, with no prizes for guessing where the reception was held (clue: not the Perth branch of the Leeds United fan club). And yeah, despite the kids (so many kids), and the lack of sleep, and the mortgage, our relationship is still surreal, and still magical, and I still pinch myself every day (to keep myself awake, actually, but you take my point). Happy anniversary Mr Shearon. You’re still the best thing that ever happened to me.