Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Lure of Lentil Gunge - or how the Bob was won

Inspired by Tom Harris, who today described his fruitful (literally) attempts to woo his lovely wife, Carolyn and turned it into a meme, I thought I'd tell you a bit about how Bob and I got together. So, this is the story of how I ran away with a divorced man twice my age....

Bob and I are complete polar opposites in many ways. He's quite quiet and he loves weird things. I guess that figures. Today, part of my Valentine's present to him was (at his request) 4 different versions of the same bit of weird music. It makes him happy, though, so I don't mind.

Anyway, so how on earth did an outdoors loving guy who liked nothing better than heading off to the hills with a rucksack on his back end up with a voraciously political trashy tv and sci-fi fan?

It all began on Sunday 28th June 1987. I had just arrived for my regular Summer job as a youth hostel warden. I was, I should point out, still, just, by a month and three days, a teenager. That night, I booked in this rather tall, unshaven and unkempt hillwalker who looked more than a little grumpy. I resolved to avoid him. Unfortunately the next night, when I went to cook my dinner, he was the only one in the communal kitchen. I cautiously struck up a conversation, just to be friendly, and to my surprise, he didn't snarl. We actually ended up talking for ages. I can't for the life of me remember what about, just that he was wearing a Level 42 T-shirt. I did discover, though, that the day before had been his 36th birthday.

We chatted pretty much all evening, but at that point I didn't really think much of it. I quite liked him, but nothing at that point earth shattering. We spent the next two evenings chatting away, each of us spending much longer in the kitchen than the preparation of our food strictly entailed. I'd say especially longer than the preparation of his food entailed.

He had brought with him a catering pack of Batchelor's dried Chicken Supreme, supplemented on alternate nights with either dried green beans or dried peas. As for the supreme, well, all the big lumps sort of sunk to the bottom so at the beginning of the week, it was more supreme than chicken. By Thursday it was definitely more chicken than supreme. By that time, something was beginning to stir in the fluttering heart department. I knew he had a very long walk planned for that day so I asked him if he'd like to share my meal that night. He accepted. Being on a budget, I prepared my signature lentil stew which, to be honest, was more of a gunge than a stew, but it was tasty, filling and it wasn't dried chicken supreme.

He had only originally booked in for 2 nights, and had planned to head off on the Tuesday morning. He kept hanging around for some reason which I put down to the lovely weather. One of the things about staying in a youth hostel is that you have to do a chore every morning. Because I liked him, I started giving him easy jobs, like emptying the bin in his dorm. By the weekend, he started to demand something more difficult. I thought he was bored. He was actually trying to impress me. Nothing I offered him seemed to suit and then he asked if he could chop some wood. I think my boss got her whole Winter's supply by the end of that Summer.

He decided that he was definitely going to go on the following Monday, 6th July as he had to head up north for a wedding. On the Sunday night he asked me if I wanted to go to one of the many local beauty spots to see the deer as they came off the hill in the evening. So, off we went. Only I could spend 3 Summers in the heart of the Cairngorms and never climb any of them. Rather stupidly I'd worn these shoes which turned out to be very slippery when we started walking along the rocks at the Linn of Quoich. So he had to hold my hand. Just to keep me upright you understand.

Anyway, we ended up going for dinner after that. Over our meal, in an attempt to impress me, he asked me how many highers I had. For those of you south of the border, most people who did them did 5. His face fell when I replied that I had 7 because he wanted me to be thrilled at his 6. As if his degree in mining engineering, a discipline as incomprehensible to me as mandarin Chinese, wasn't enough.

After that came several weeks of almost daily exchange of long letters and very long phone calls. For my 20th birthday, he took me to the U2 concert at Murrayfield. I must have been mad, going off to stay in an unfamiliar city with a man I barely knew, but my instinct said I could trust him.

Within 3 months, I'd moved down there and the rest, as they say, is history.

We are so different but I think it works because we both just let each other be ourselves. He is remarkably tolerant. The presence of a political activist in any family can cause nothing but havoc, but he copes, mostly good humouredly. The irony is that he was once, many moons ago, a Labour activist in West Fife but he left the party during the miners' strike of 1984 and the epicentre of my political universe is now West Fife after Willie Rennie's spectacular Liberal Democrat by-election gain in 2006.

We are not entirely different, though. If the truth be known, it might be better if one of us were more disciplined about tidying up, or making sure we both ate healthily because then we might be thin and have a house that's less of a hovel, but, well, I certainly know beyond doubt I wouldn't swap him for a clear kitchen table and a fridge full of lettuce, or for anything else to be honest.

I'm so glad that I had the presence of mind that Summer to recognise how good Bob was and to grab him and hold on to him.

I am going to tag a couple of people with this Harris inspired meme to describe how they met and wooed their partners - firstly Malc, who's getting married soon, Jennie who will no doubt call me all sorts of names for tagging her, Daddy Alex, Debra and Andrew, Sarah and Kate.

UPDATE: Sarah has posted her story of "How the Ric was wooed"

1 comment:

Sarah said...

What a truely romantic story! It could be the basis for a novel :)

I will happily divulge how my husband and I got together, but it won' be half as interesting :)


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