21 years ago today MM and I became an ‘item’. I’d known him for a while beforehand but a romance with him, quite frankly, had never crossed my mind. He is 5 years older than me and back then at the tender age of 19 a 24 year old PhD student seemed well out of my dating league. We met while we were both students at the University of St. Andrews. He was studying for his PhD in Byzantine History and I was doing my undergraduate degree. We both worked in The Central bar where I knew him as somewhat of a ladies man, schmoozing the female punters with his extensive vocabulary, sardonic sense of humor, and couldn’t care less attitude. That was until May 2nd 1991.
I was in the university library studying for exams when I saw him sauntering down the corridor in his laissez-faire manner. I kept my head down not wanting to have an awkward conversational encounter with him but in the corner of my eye I could see him approaching. I made a couple of whispered, flippant remarks and he asked if I’d be in the bar later. Well of course I would be – even when I wasn’t working pulling pints of 80 Shilling I was in there enjoying a Newcastle Brown – so I thought nothing of it. Later that afternoon when my brain was overloaded with glycolysis and other fun stuff, I perched myself in the corner of the bar by the water tap – my usual spot. MM wandered in not long after – he lived upstairs so was often popping in for his caffeine fix in between translating Ancient Greek texts. He looked surprised to see me there so early and I was equally surprised that he sat down next to me with his Gualoises legers and ordered a drink. There were plenty of his football buddies around so why would he choose to sit with me? I was just someone he worked with? Our mutual friend S. was working behind the bar and at this stage he offered me a large Moscow Mule – why not I thought – it was a thirsty Thursday after all. Time passed, cigarettes were smoked, laughs were had, the bar filled up and S. kept the drinks flowing. Now it is 21 years ago and the blue label makes it a little hazy, but for some reason we must have started flirting a little and before I knew it MM was standing on his bar stool telling me and every Yah in St. Andrews that he was ‘infatuated’ with me. I was caught quite off guard. Little did I know that he and S. had been together all afternoon plotting some kind of rendezvous with me. It appears he had ‘fancied’ me for sometime – which completely blew me away as, as I mentioned earlier, my romantic radar (which was always operational) hadn’t even detected him as a potential suitor. Well as the story goes we embarked on a very intense love affair walking the beaches of St. Andrews and then of course drinking in the many bars to keep warm. The summer of 1991 led to a separation due to summer jobs and then I went off to Lisbon for 3 months to study. In those 3 months, in the days before easy access to email, he wrote a long hand letter to me EVERY day. I kept those letters for years but they were lost when some containers were stolen on the move to Atlanta.
Through all the ups and downs (mostly ups) of the past 21 years he is still my best friend, the love of my life and he can still irritate the hell out of me!:)
We truly are evidence that opposites attract and you could not pick two people more different to fall in love:
1. He is a Southerner from ‘posh’ Cheltenham and I am a Northerner from ‘not so posh’ Bury.
2. He had traveled extensively and lived abroad, I didn’t visit London until I was 22.
3. He is incredibly well read and still reads The Economist every week cover to cover, I grew up on Enid Blyton and enjoy my US Weekly every week.
4. He was a history student, I was a science student.
5. He is terrified of conforming, I am terrified of not conforming.
6. He’s very secretive, I have never kept a secret.
7. He saves all his money and then buys lavish gifts, I spend all my money on me.
8. He never raises his voice, I yell.
9. He doesn’t ever worry about not making an effort with people or people not liking him, I am a people pleaser.
10. He is Scorpio, I am Leo.
Over the years he has learned to conform a little and I have enjoyed not conforming a little more, so as in all good relationships we have met in the middle – if not a little closer to my side – I don’t like to compromise too much:)
My Man back in 1990 standing in Ajax football stadium with the University of St. Andrews football team. From Left to Right: Martin (one of our Best Men), my Brother-in-law (our other Best Man), and MM in his usual get up back then of ripped Levi 501s, red Converse boots, bandana and oversize cardigan.
Oh love this, Joanna! The list could’ve been ours for most points.
Brilliant – glad we’re not the only ones lol:) xx
This is so romantic! I love your writing style
Thank you – glad you enjoyed reading it:)
Very special, you two. I’ve given up on love. 😦
Oh no!! NEVER give up on love – you never know where you might find it…xx
Wish we lived closer. Would want you to be my bff!
We need to plan a night out – even Granny’s get to go out occasionally:)
This is such a lovely post!! And opposites certainly attract – it would be terrible if you both yelled, for instance 🙂 xx
SO glad you enjoyed reading it – I had fun writing it – so many great memories. It can be frustrating sometimes when I am yelling and he just stands there calmly waiting for the storm to pass:)
Such a cute post! I love romances. And I love visiting Cheltenham! One of my hubby’s friends lives there. My husband is a Southern Softy, too. Hope you enjoy many more decades together. (Love the old pics!)
Thank you Anne! I just wish we had more photos – lots of them were ‘lost’ in transit too when we moved – so sad…
So lovely to read this, and it all sounds very familiar too as my husband and I met in St Andrews too, and started dating in 1993 (our 4th year). Lucky you having a flat over the Central, that must have been so handy, though somewhat noisy what with all the Yahs in their navy and white spotted sweaters shouting and yahhing all night.
My husband had a flat opposite the Union, above the Balaka, which was equally handy at times.
We also have a daughter born in 2006, and it looks like you and I share a love of Boden clothing too. I’m so glad I’ve found your blog! One of the most inspiring bits to me is that you look fabulous now, but I’ve read back to where you were talking about your weightloss, and it is most cheering that you’ve lost weight and maintained for a long while now. I love before and after pictures, thanks for posting these.
Hi Nicky – I keep telling people that there were many more of us before Will and Kate! The flat above The Central did nothing for my wallet, liver or waistline – Dave used to cook there too so lunch was always available – this was pre-microwave oven pie days! He used to make fresh pasta, pizza and soups – his lasagna was famous:)
I have some great memories from the Balaka – every time parents came to visit we’d go for a curry – still one of the best chicken tikka masalas around I’m sure!
Thanks for your kind comments and thanks for following! Joanna