Saturday 5th June 2010 - Married for 3550 days

How We Met

by Josephine Makepeace

18th July 2006.  Lily Allen is No.1 with ‘Smile’ … Twitter is just a twinkle in the eye of Stephen Fry … Pirates of the Caribbean ‘Dead Man’s Chest’ is No.1 at the Box Office … and a nervous Alasdair Willett is sitting in Olive’s café bar waiting for a mystery woman to walk in and change his life, and (unbeknownst to Al) his dress sense too.

So let’s zoom in on Olive’s … there’s Al, sitting at the table in the back, wearing a check shirt and chinos, eyes darting occasionally to the doorway, rearranging the salt and pepper shakers, dwelling on the fact that he’d only gone on match.com to appease his friends and that internet dating was really not his thing.  He’d only been on the site for a few weeks and the emails he’d had were either unreadable drivel or mind numbingly dull.  And then he’d received an email from Lisa … and it had been utterly captivating.  Just out of hospital with many more months of recovery ahead of him, Al remembers having no intention of pursuing L'Amour in any way, shape or form … but Lisa's words were just so right, so sparkling and so relevant to him that he just had to respond.

He can’t help hoping that this date is going to be a success.  As he waits, though, he resolves that if it all turns into an embarrassing muddle of a blind date disaster then he’ll be giving up internet dating tonight. 

Ironically, Al did give up internet dating that night, but not for the reason he feared.  But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. 

Instead, let’s leave Al to his thoughts and fly out of Olive’s, onto the pavement outside, where a gorgeous young woman is approaching the café, dressed in a bronze skirt and blouse, wearing impossibly high heels.  “God,” she thinks, “this skirt looks I’ve slept in it.”   And why oh why, she asks herself as she totters along the pavement, did I decide to wear these shoes?  Oh yes.  Because the man I’m going to meet is 6’3!

As she approaches Olive’s, Lisa Leach is fairly buzzing with excitement.  Al immediately caught her attention on match.com and even though (silly girl) she thought he was out of her league, she bit the bullet anyway because he was gorgeous and sounded absolutely amazing.  To think that she’d almost given up on him replying and here she was, four weeks later, getting ready to meet him for coffee.

She takes a deep breath before opening the door to Olive’s.  Okay, she tells herself.  We’ve agreed that if things are going well, we’ll have a second coffee.   And she opens the door …

The first thing Al thinks is “Wow!  We’re going to be ploughing through a good few lattes tonight!” (not realising that Lisa will be OD’ing on the hot chocolate, but we forgive him.)

The first thing Lisa thinks is “Oh. My. God” rapidly followed by “Don’t fall over!” 

Al notices a coppery skirt and chunky jewellery, but these simply pale into a sort of hazy beige compared to the radiant smile Lisa is wearing.

As Lisa walks to the back of the café, towards Al, a scene from her favourite film, Meet Joe Black, pops into her head – the father turns to his daughter and tells her of the moment he met her mother and instantly fell in love and how the same thing could happen to her.  He says "You never know, lighting could strike".  And this is exactly what Lisa feels when she sees Al.

Al’s MJB revelation occurs a couple of hours later.  But wait, before we think about reprimanding Al for the tardiness of his Eureka moment let’s eavesdrop on his thoughts at that moment (he won’t mind).

The first thing we note is that Al thinks he’s in Bella Pasta when in fact he’s in Café Uno … but of course we forgive him this because he’s simply transfixed by the vision sitting opposite him.  They’re dining al fresco – it’s a beautiful night, in more ways than one – and Al has finished his main course.

He notices that Lisa on the other hand still has a full plate of pasta in front of her, having been too busy talking yet holding Al’s interest completely.  And this is when his Eureka moment finally arrives – late, but worth the wait – as he realises that at this point their first date has been completely effortless and being with Lisa seems the most natural thing in his life.  Al has already fallen in love and the dessert menu hasn’t even arrived.

At that same moment, oblivious to her partner’s revelation (for they are indeed partners now, although they perhaps haven’t articulated it to each other yet) Lisa realises that she’s talked so much that Al has finished his dinner, yet hers is untouched - and cold (and then she tucks in pretending it’s delicious.  We love her for this). 

Hours later – which to our happy couple seems but moments – Lisa is offering Al a lift home and finds it rather amusing watching Al turn himself into a piece of human origami and literally fold himself into her MR2 (which is rather twisted of our lovely Lisa considering he'd only come out of hospital after a major back op just 4 weeks before, but of course we forgive her). 

As she stops at the traffic lights near M&S Lisa casually slips into the conversation the question she’s been burning to ask since the moment she walked into Olive’s: "So, do you fancy meeting up again?"

Al of course (having Eureka’d) says yes without hesitation and our delighted heroine lets out a massive "woo-hoo" in a pitch so high that only dogs and bats can hear it, and does a skyward gesture with her arm that nearly results in her puncturing the roof of her car (which, if you’ve been in Lisa’s Toyota Miniscule Runner 2, you wouldn’t find at all surprising). 

But of course by that point Lisa knows she doesn’t have to act cool and can just be her normal (and adorable) silly self.

And now we leave our two lovebirds in Lisa’s dinky motor and wing away up over the streets of Norwich, past the cathedral, there, and over the castle, our smiles a little brighter, our hearts a little warmer.

They haven’t yet become the most glamorous barn-dwellers in Ketteringham, nor yet discovered their mutual affection for (some would say weird obsession with) cows; they haven’t yet fallen in love with Plexter … but they have indeed fallen in love with each other.