Thursday, February 10, 2011

Vicarious ValemTimer

ValemTimes Day, as my kids would say, is nearly here. A day of hearts, pink and red roses and dreams come true. And we will let it go by. Kevin and I are both hopelessly unromantic and unsentimental and his mutterings of "Hallmark Holiday" can be heard throughout the land...well our house anyway.

You might think it's bizarre that I have spent many happy hours in the last couple of weeks reading other bloggers' posts on Valentines. I even have a favourite card and t-shirt, it's from one of my sponsors .

I get a huge kick out of blog posts on glitter-heart making, red sweetheart dresses, the clinky glass-and-silver dinner plans, ruby bracelets. I suppose then I am a vicarious romantic: happiest watching other people being glitter-hearty. Just as Kevin and I were never married - well not in a big-wedding-way, just in a swift-registry-office-just-because-we-had-to-way. But  I love going to weddings, marvelling over the smooth sugared almonds and cooing over the bridal frock.  I even follow a couple of bridal blogs.

So...maybe I should try to be more romantic. Here goes... Once Upon A Time there was an American boy and a Kiwi girl living in London who tried unsuccessfully to chat up other people at a party in Chelsea and ended up by default sitting next to each other at dinner.

The tone was further set, as you may know, when Kevin and I had our first date at Highgate Cemetery in London, which interms a melee of the famous including Karl Marx and Douglas Adams, author of Hitchhickers' Guide To The Galaxy. Followed by fillet of fish at McDonalds. I then introduced Kevin to my Kiwi friends in a round of roller blading around Hyde Park. Kevin equipped himself well, being the only one of our group who could roll at all and I was beginning to think I had found the right bloke. After we decided to pack it in early and head for the pub, he was up for that too. Sporty and social skills, ergo, a good all-rounder. Hmmm...

Upon seeing his "flat' I knew he was a corker. An airy, comparatively vast two-bedroom in an old brick Convent amid the hippery and leafery that is Notting Hill.  He didn't earn much, just a lowly research assistant at a bank, but somehow he had landed this space. Bloody brilliant! The flat had an entry way with carpets, a chandelier and a doorman. Being a staunch Kiwi woman with initiative I taxied back to where I was staying with a friend, collected my garbage bags of clothes and stuffed them behind Kevin's couch saying I was staying "just a wee while". Slowly, slowly those clothes came out of the garbage bags ...and now 15 years I have my own (Ikea) wardrobe. Good things come to those who wait!

At the same time, I was writing an article for the London Evening Standard about how many restauranteurs were choosing not to open on Valentines. Apparently the evening produced excessive amounts of anguish, rudeness, and tears from the diners. When a marriage proposal was expected and not delivered, mayhem ensued.

Kevin and I whiled away the next three years doing random stuff like viewing dancing fleas at the Oktoberfest and abseiling down caves in New Zealand...

Then Harley, now 13, was born.  Yes, he was a planned baby (don't worry, everyone else asked) but we still didn't feel the need to marry. Kevin is self-effacing and dislikes being the centre of attention and I guess I had never dreamed of a white wedding, or any wedding for that matter...Three kids and three Notting Hills flats later we were forced to marry by the US government. We were in the process of moving here to the Bay Area, California and despite producing three children with an American I was not allowed into the country without a marriage certificate. So we booked the following Thursday at Westminster Register Office in Marylebone, where Paul McCartney famously married Linda.  I headed off to the shops to buy a white suit.

In retrospect the Armani suit was probably a little too tight around the thighs - too many nights of shovelling kids' leftovers of Marks and Spencer full-cream Mac'n'Cheese into my mouth, followed by a generous helpings of duck pancakes - and the double breasting didn't really suit me, but back then I was really chuffed with it.

The next Thursday dawned with both Tallulah and Kevin suffering from intestinal indiscretions. Tallulah's nappy was exploding every ten minutes rendering it impossible to wear my white suit.  I've always loved "baby poop yellow" as a colour but not the actuality on my white suit. Kevin felt so queasy we cancelled the very few friends we had invited for the day. Which meant that when we arrived at the Register Office we had no witnesses. I ran outside to rope in a passer-by or a garbage man. The security guards nodded that they would do it - and I mean nodded, one spoke only Greek. So we were a funny little group with our three kids, two strangers, me dashing out every ten minutes to change Tallulah and Kevin repairing oftenly to the Mens'.

Security Guards and us

I did insist in keeping our lunch date at Dakota just around the corner from our house, so we dropped off exploding Tallulah and her brothers with the babysitter and walked over.  While Kevin, positively green (the camera does lie)  nibbled on plain bread and sipped water, I gulipped down 12 oysters and champagne followed by more oysters, roast chicken and a choccy pudding thing. (Pics taken by the waiter and people in the street)

We ambled home to relieve the babysitter and I put on my bathrobe to watch my favourite TV programmes, Corry Street and Eastenders.

Not the best day of my life...but jolly near it!

The - see "End" below.

What are you up to on Valemtimes? (And don't forget to enter my giveaway of $100 navy Hobo clutch-purse. Simply leave a comment and the winner - drawn randomly - will be announced tomorrow Friday).


  1. love the story...romantic in it's own way. have your read, 'her fearful symmetry' (set in and around highgate cemetery)? i think you'd like it.

    'baby poop yellow' is a tough colour to pull off...


  2. Awwwwww....I just LOVE hearing the stories of how people 'got together'. This is such a sweet story. Some things (like gastric bugs on your big day) you never forget hey - for us it was the 130km/hr winds Welly served up on our big day!

  3. oh, my dearest...thank you ever so much for including Love Who You Love in your fabu exciting! i, too, am familiar with the baby poop yellow phenomenon and insist that we must get together over a stiff drink and discuss it further..:)

  4. Baby poop yellow -- don't we all have stories! But not all of us have a wedding day baby poop story like you. One of the many reasons you are special!

  5. Beautiful story! And we live in the same area!! Love your blog and am your newest follower.

    xo Marcie

  6. Great story!!! A real page-turner :)
    I would have eloped myself but my husband wanted a big ballroom wedding reception. We are like you and your hubs, don't really celebrate valentines or anniversary rarely do anything for birthdays or christmas now that I think about it.....

    Love your blog!

  7. ha this is so cute! i absolutely love it! just found your blog :)

  8. Following back from:

    Check out my other blog:

  9. i enjoyed reading this post, and i loved the photos! :D

    p.s. i used to call it valemtimes day too. ;)

    <3, Mimi

  10. First date in a cemetary, it can only get better from there...

  11. DEFINITELY the best day of my life (and I didn't even get any lunch)

  12. Kevin, the clutch-purse will really suit you. Maybe Jody will write about your Inca Trail escapades sometime!

  13. Great Valentine story, Jody. Really made chuckle.

  14. I love these kind of stories :)
    Happy Valentine's Day to you!

  15. I swear this has got to be the most romantic story ever. And I was seriously happy that you included a photo of you in the white Armani, you look great in it! And you look so happy--that's the part that makes the story so so wonderful! Wishing you a very happy pre-valentine's weekend!
    xo mary jo

  16. Pure romance.

    After reading this, I'd beg to differ that you are vicariously romantic. Just unconventional?? =). (loved the ending the most... after a tough week, I look forward to a little of that myself.

  17. Oh, forgot to answer your question!

    We both like to cook, so for us, a perfect night is cooking a delicious meal.

  18. Andy - I thought as long as I kept money going into your Swiss account that you agreed never to mention the Inca trail...

  19. So so so all of these pics and your love story :)



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