The Girl who Swallowed Sunshine.

Reader, I married him.thumb_IMG_1649_1024

For Celeste

Oh where to start my little one. I met your daddy on a sunny, Sunday, September afternoon. I was meeting Laura and Weezie for lunch at a pub in Chelsea near our flat. It was a bit of a set-up really but I didn’t know that at the time. I was the last to arrive and poor daddy could barely lift his head to say hello to me because he was close to dying with alcohol poisoning from the night before; I’m not entirely sure he wasn’t still drunk.

He was wearing a faded black T-shirt with some cool logo on it I didn’t recognize, jeans and a frown. It was love at first sight. Honestly it didn’t matter that he was too hung-over to speak, he was just so pretty you see. It was like that scene in Mary Poppins where the Banks children write a list of everything they want in a nanny and it goes up that chimney. He ticked every box. I knew within an hour or so that I would marry him, all the same I tried to play it cool.

Laura leaned in and whispered into my ear- “ So what do you think?” “I’m not sure, he wears glasses”, I told her, “Yes darling, but they are Dolce and Gabanna” she winked.

He lived in an amazing flat on Wandsworth Bridge Road above an interiors shop. We all headed back to his flat post lunch to rent and watch a video (you will probably need this translated). And that was that.

But that night I didn’t get a wink of sleep and spent most of the night on the phone to Laura.

Sure enough your Dad asked for my number and true to form took his sweet time in calling me. He then proceeded to cancel our first date as he had a tummy bug. “What’s wrong with him?” I asked Weezie with indignation. “Well I think he’s ill,” she said. “No, what’s wrong with him?!” I asked.

We went on a date the following Friday night after Weezie pleaded with me to give him a second chance. Your dad took me to a restaurant on the Kings Road where romance goes to die. Of course he was very late and to announce his arrival, he poked me. Yes with his index finger, he actually poked me in the back, then when I told him what I did for a living he said – “It’s easy to get stuck in a rut”. I’m not sure how there was ever a second date. To be honest the first one never finished. I saw him all that weekend and every other one from then. I moved in shortly afterwards much to his flat mate’s annoyance. Within a month of dating he had told me he loved me. He told me this every single day for the next ten years. His love was free and wild, like you.

Despite initially giving the impression of having no skills in romance, it turns out he just so happened to be the most romantic man I have ever met. He would come pick me up from work or nights out if he could. Made me breakfast in bed, stocked his fridge with all my favourite foods. He always listened to me and held my hand wherever we went.

When I was looking for a new job he would type up and post all my applications and he was always planning surprises. He used to leave treasure hunts for me when he went away on a shoot. These would keep me entertained for hours and they always ended in a gorgeous present of some sort. He used to put a dog-ear in my book if I fell asleep while reading it. When it was my birthday your dad would really go all out; he went big. He later did this for you and Flynn.

One of the best surprises was two years later, while up the Atlas Mountains. He got down on one knee, the sun was setting, he opened a black velvet box with a diamond ring and he said- “Will you marry me?” “Yes” I said “But please can I have more diamonds?”

A year later came the most glorious wedding on the seafront in West Wittering, a month long honeymoon in Africa and then there were three. Three years later there were four.

Once you were born he continued these surprises for you too. Opposite his favourite brasserie is a shop that sells girls clothes. Sometimes he would ‘Nip in’ and get you a hat or a dress. I can safely say I do not know another 36 year old man that does this. You were wearing one of these purchases at your third birthday party.

After you were born Daddy had developed a bit of a habit of taking an annual fishing trip for ten days somewhere off the coast of Somalia with Harry. To lessen the blow, he would plan treats and surprises for me. As he left I was usually handed 10 envelopes only to be opened the morning of the corresponding day. One might say – Be at Turnham Green Tube after dropping kids off- I would get there and find Tara and Laura waiting for me at the station and they would tell me –Today we were going on a Spa day.

I remember one envelope had a voucher to the Curzon cinema had the note said- I have a sitter arranged for the whole day. Go and watch a ponsy arty film. He put so much effort into everything. It was so much fun being married to your Dad. Even when he wasn’t away for long he would do similar. He would track my day and put chronological post-its on my route. I’d find the first one in the shower, then in the fridge and then the butter dish, then on my bike on my way to work and under my pillow was always the last one.

I didn’t realise that I’d kept all of these, so many over the years. I found them while Granny and I were trying to organise his funeral. I found them in the filing cabinet and I couldn’t contain my sadness because I knew that that was all over now and could never be again. I know one day I will be glad that I had all of this, but right now its absence just makes me sad. Not all husbands are created equal. But if Carlsberg created husbands……….

My one wish is that one day, when you are grown, that you will meet a man like this and be treated like this because it’s just wonderful and you deserve it.

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