MEETING A FROG LED ME TO MY PRINCE
IHAVE a theory that 25 is a dangerous age for women. University is behind you and you’ve climbed the first steps up the career ladder and that’s when your body clock catches up with you. It’s sneaky – nothing as unsubtle as making you yearn for a baby. No, what happens is that, like a witch’s curse in a fairy tale, the next man you meet is transformed into the One, regardless of how unsuitable he is.
You may be lucky enough to land a good ’un, a man with a true heart who wants to love and care for you. But, if you’re like me and many of my female friends, you are more likely to end up with the Bad Boyfriend, the kind of person you’d have run a mile from a few years earlier but who now seems like the answer to your dreams.
My BB was funny, clever and talented, and seemed to adore me. Looking back he clearly couldn’t believe his luck: he wore dodgy ill-fitting tweed suits and knitted ties and his teeth were a bomb site. No matter, he was a fixer-upper, I thought, and I took him shopping and to a dentist.
We had a couple of fun years together before it began to dawn on me that far from finding Prince Charming, I’d kissed the biggest frog in the swamp. I found out he’d built up a mountain of debt only when two sheriff officers arrived to poind our belongings for unpaid parking fines. When I confronted the BB, he sheepishly produced a bin bag full of unopened letters from irate bank managers and creditors – including the dentist.
Worse was to come as he took to the drink, disappearing for days at a time and trailing home with idiotic excuses I tried to believe. I should have got out earlier, but I’d already invested so much time and energy on trying to turn him into the man he could never hope to be. After all, he was the One, wasn’t he? I ignored my friends who shook their heads sadly at the disaster that was my unravelling life. I don’t know what made me wake up; I’d just had enough one day, and with great sadness and heartbreak called time on our four years of highs and, increasingly, lows.
At the age of 29, I felt washed up. Ridiculous, of course, but I was looking at life through the prism of a broken heart. I was convinced I’d never find love again. And then, of course, I did.
Michael is generous, honest and kind, as well as being funny, talented and clever. We married 15 years ago and have an adorable eight-year-old son. In a way I should thank the BB – if it weren’t for his monumental awfulness I wouldn’t have been drawn to his opposite, my husband and my true love.
MAGGIE RITCHIE might say rose-tinted) heart-shaped spectacles. It had echoes of Sara Moon meets Pierrot (hugely popular at the time), which to my young eyes seemed terribly grown up and sophisticated. Inside was the inscription: “To my girl.”
The card – as I had quickly deduced from the postmark – was from my grandpa. My gran would have bought it and posted it, but I’m certain it’s his writing.
I was 10 when he passed away and my recollection of the years he was alive is a frustrating hotchpotch of jumbled snapshots as if viewed through muslin cloth or a grimy window. The memories flit and flutter. No matter how hard I try to pin them down they always evade my grasp.
This much I can recall. His favourite chair was on the left-hand side of the fireplace. He always had neatly pressed slacks. When it came to fly fishing his knowledge was encyclopedic. His competitive spirit at board games was rivalled only by my own. He showed me how to make perfume from water and flower petals. His tipple on special occasions was Bell’s.
I remember him lying quiet and still in a hospital bed after a stroke. It felt like a prolonged period, but probably wasn’t. The elasticity of time plays tricks on the mind.
The afternoon before he died I told my mum he squeezed my hand as I talked to him. If I’m honest now, I don’t think he did.
At the age of 29, I felt washed up. I was convinced I would never find love again. And then, of course, I did