First encounters: Mark Nixon meets Lorraine Fitzmaurice
“She was the first to accept me warts and all”
Lorraine Fitzmaurice and Mark Nixon ‘got on very well straight away’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
MARK ON LORRAINE
[FIRSTDROP]W [/FIRSTDROP]e were introduced by a mutual friend in the Pink Elephant, many years ago, about 1988. I remember standing at the bar and staring into each other’s eyes, the way you do when you first meet someone, kind of lost in each other. We got on very well straight away, we just started seeing each other, that was it. Lorraine had the restaurant at the time in Powerscourt and I’d go up there for my lunch or a piece of cake in the afternoon. I was a starving singer-songwriter, on the dole and working part time in Captain America’s.
I had been out with a few women before, but she was the first woman who accepted me warts and all. She didn’t try to change me. She liked to go out and party in nightclubs, she has loads of energy. I’m a bit of an early bird, I’d usually be the first one to go home, so I’d often leave her with her friends.
No one really had any money, but it didn’t matter. You made your own fun. If you didn’t have any money, someone would buy you a drink.
When we started going out, I had a bedsit in Rathmines and she was living at home with her parents. Then she got her first apartment and we moved in there on Patrick Street. We got a cat, Lorraine got pregnant and we moved to a house in Drumcondra. We had our daughter Pearl, who’s 14 now. Then we had our son Callum who’s 11. After we had him, we moved to Clontarf. We got married in 2005, Pearl was the flower girl and Callum the ringbearer. We were married in the registry office on a Monday – September 12th – the hottest day of the year.
I started getting into photography really as a hobby because I had a bad case of writer’s block with my music. To take my mind off it I bought a camera and joined the Dublin Camera Club and it took over my life, I never really went back to the music. I started getting work straight away and found I was a much better photographer than I was a singer-songwriter.
One snowy Christmas night we sneaked into a closed St Stephen’s Green through a loose railing. Lorraine hit me on the face with a snowball, knocking out one of the lenses on my glasses. She promised she’d find it in the morning. We sneaked in again the next morning on what I thought would be a totally fruitless task and true to her word, she found it. Very impressive. Lorraine is very hardworking and a real people pleaser. She does everything for everybody. She’s an amazing mother, absolutely incredible, just a very generous, loving person. And her bakewell tart is to die for.
LORRAINE ON MARK
[FIRSTDROP]W [/FIRSTDROP]e were introduced in Keogh’s on South Anne Street by mutual friends of ours, Dave and Janice. Then I sent him a shot of tequila in the Pink Elephant. We started talking. I did make the first move, but it’s weird, I wasn’t aware I was making a move. We don’t actually know how we’ve managed to get to 20 odd years. It took us ages to get married. We just keep going, but there’s never been a plan.
We had the house, then the babies and then got married. I don’t feel he puts me under any pressure, and I certainly don’t put him under any pressure. I just do my thing and he does his. It seems to work. He might say I’m a bit of a nag, but when I listen to other people, or hear the demands people put on their relationships, I think he has it pretty easy really.
I remember everything vividly. I found him so easy to talk to. Well, either that or he was a good listener and he just let me talk! He wasn’t from Dublin but we seemed to be into the same things. Our favourite restaurant was Ayumi-Ya in Blackrock. We liked cycling into town. Having a beer outside the Barge. Just talking. I was really into live music, and years later I actually realised I’d seen him gigging. My friend Paul Webb was running a gig in the Baggot Inn and I had gone in to see Mark play without knowing it. He has a broad palate and so do I, even though Mark is a meat-eater and I’m not. We like the same types of people. All of our friends are self-employed; artists, musicians, writers, dancers, people who like to have a good time but will still get up and do their job the next day.
He’s very patient. I’m not computer literate and when I was writing the cookbook, I had to call on him so many times. He teaches me really patiently, you never think he’s trying to stay calm, he just is. If an issue arises at home, we sit down and he’ll see it in a totally different way to me. I react immediately, but he comes in on a different angle, seeing the broader picture. He’s very good at getting things out of people. He says it’s because he grew up in Belfast!
If we can’t afford to do something, he comes up with a little scheme and figures it out. When I first met him he had absolutely no money. He got £10 a shift in Captain America’s. Every Friday he’d spend £5 of it on flowers for me. Isn’t that gorgeous? He’d paint me a Valentine’s card every year. He’s very romantic.
If stuff arises we don’t kind of say that’s it, it’s over. We kind of just keep going and see where it takes us. We don’t scream and shout at each other. Then all of a sudden it seems to work its way out, and we come out the other side.