Roses are red

 

An email, a couple of photograph comments, a few MSN chats, the odd phone conversation, one London to Dublin airplane ticket, one nine-hour delay in Stansted airport and a plastic nose flute; thus was the start of our courtship.

It’s 9pm, June 15th 2007 and I’m standing in the lobby of the Burlington hotel looking around for a man I’d never laid eyes on, beyond the two dimensions of my computer screen. I reach inside my bag for my mobile phone just as a smiling, fair-haired man strolls over. We both break into huge grins and without pause, hug.

Charlie and I met online. He, London-based and I in Dublin, had both at some point signed up to a travel and social media site called WAYN (Where Are You Now). Neither of us was really looking to meet anyone, but somehow that’s exactly what happened. Charlie emailed me and after a quick look at his profile I’d responded with a cheery yet throwaway comment sneering at a photo of him with one of his beloved ukuleles, hinting that it lacked a little something compared to a nose flute. He’d responded in kind and things galloped ahead from there, from emails to online chats, to text messages to phone calls.

A few days later, he casually mentioned that he had to come to Dublin for a meeting with his Irish publicist at the weekend and asked if I’d be around to grab a quick drink. We arranged to meet in town after work. It was a few months later when he admitted he’d had to furiously scurry around to organise aforesaid – and in truth – nonexistent work meeting; he’d wanted to see me but hadn’t wanted to scare me off.

As the Friday morning of his arrival wore on, the texts started to arrive from Stansted:

“Delayed – another two hours. Oh well!” and “Another hour’s delay – bloody Ryanair!”

As afternoon slipped into evening the messages were becoming all the more teeth-gritting, determinedly cheerful, until, after enduring nine hours of the charms of Stansted, his flight was boarding.

Arriving in Dublin, Charlie said he fully understood if I wanted to wait until the morning to meet up – after nine hours waiting, God love him, I couldn’t possibly not make the effort.

We spent that first evening in Toner’s pub drinking Guinness and attempting to “play” the plastic nose flute he’d brought me. We got engaged eight months later, and a year after that first evening, we were happily living together in Dublin.

I still have the nose flute.

Judith Leavy