Causeway St. Portrush. 1977 May 3rd was a day that changed my life.
I was walking home to the flat I shared with two other students. I was with my friend — Stephen. He was expecting a visit from a school friend from Wales and was leaving me home early to get back to his digs.
It was one of the worst days of the year politically speaking, because there was a lot of transport disruption from a strike and the military was everywhere, patrolling round. There were even armoured vehicles on Main Street that day.
As we approached the house, a figure came towards us. He was wearing a beige duffle coat and he looked pretty exhausted (after running the gauntlet of a major break-up followed by the worst of welcomes Ulster had to offer, all the way from Wales and with a very rough sea crossing) but he was smiling. Stephen introduced us and I knew PING in that moment and with absolute certainty
This is the man I’m going to marry.
And it wasn’t really a romantic notion (I was never a Mills & Boon kind of girl). It just presented itself in my mind as a fact as though it was the most certain thing in all the world. Now, of course you could accuse me of speaking with hindsight here because it all came to pass, but I assure it that was my first thought! And later Noel told me he had a similar thought. Maybe there is no such thing as a chance meeting.
Do you believe in such things?
He’d been going to book into Mrs MacSorley’s Guest House but he ended up sleeping on the livingroom floor of our flat because Stephen didn’t have a suitable bedsit and it saved money. In the ensuing few days, he and I talked and found we had similar interests and I became even more sure — yes — this was the man!
At that time Noel lived in Wales and I was just finishing my degree. I found I couldn’t get a job in Ulster so I applied for jobs in Scotland, London and Cardiff and I got the one in Wales. I moved there in 1978. The rest as they say…
It just so happens that my sister Esme (bridesmaid) will be with us on Wednesday so we are going to out to celebrate 40 years of knowing each other and the champagne is on ice. Cheers!