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Dan Morris: Get me to the church on time

Well, I’ve finally gone and done it...

Wish him luck! A lady is finally making an honest man of our boy Dan
Wish him luck! A lady is finally making an honest man of our boy Dan

That’s right ladies and gentlemen – to rapturous rounds of applause and pantomime cries of “about bloody time” I have proposed marriage to the fair maiden who shares my abode, and (in a most surprising twist) she has said yes.

Suffice to say, the recently departed festive season was a little more eventful than I had foreseen it being at the start of last year. I certainly hadn’t envisaged the veritable boat load of fizzy wine (some was proper Champagne – big lad’s posh stuff!) that I would come to imbibe, or how often words like ‘favour’, ‘centrepiece’ and (my personal favourite) ‘boutonniere’ could come to dominate conversation. One thing’s for sure, it was definitely a Christmas to remember, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way...

The adventure that would once and for all see me transcend the bliss of bachelorhood began some months ago. This was with the advent of a rather clandestine operation between myself and my mother-in-law-to-be to establish and secure the location of the heirloom ring I knew my future-betrothed wanted on her finger.

We pulled this off to perfection, naturally, and then there was little left to do other than select the moment of all moments for a big deep breath and the question of a lifetime.

This brings our adventure neatly to December 18, 2021 – written out here in full so that next year you can all remind me and cry fair warning of the approaching date. My thanks to you all.

Our bags were packed, the car loaded up, and we began our journey to the train station at which we would board a loco to the fine city of York. We’d been looking forward to getting away for a bit, the idea put into our heads some time ago by my father – doubtlessly keen to be rid of my incessant visits and fridge-depleting gob for at least a long weekend.

Having already invoked my best Indiana Jones à la the golden idol scene to deftly retrieve the ring from my beloved’s hiding place without waking or enraging the ‘tribe’, I was feeling good, confident and relaxed as we waited on the train platform. The ring was nestled in my coat pocket – secure but easy to check on, should the compulsion to do so takeover.

And takeover it certainly did...

Realising I was (incidentally, for the first time since the advent of the pandemic) on a very busy train where small objects could easily be dropped and lost, or sadly even stolen, my blood pressure went up a wee bit. The ring was not only valuable, but had been bequeathed to my partner by her beloved grandmother, and as such was entirely irreplaceable.

Reaching into my pocket to be greeted by the tactile reassurance that said rock was safe and sound though, I calmed down a bit. I would only need to repeat this process every 20 seconds for the rest of our three-hour trip, and I’d remain as right as rain.

Upon changing trains halfway through our journey, we each took the opportunity to visit the little boys’ and girls’ room respectively. I was far too nervous at this point to even contemplate relieving my bladder, but this was a golden opportunity to open the ring box away from my beloved’s gaze and indisputably determine that its precious cargo had not gone walkabout.

Standing near a sink just inside the door of the gents’ toilets, I stood with the ring box clutched open in front of me and beamed as I saw the treasure it contained wink back at me. At this point of course, a gentleman of a similar age to myself entered the foyer of the station water closets, to be greeted by the sight of a very bearded me standing in front of a toilet, brandishing an engagement ring and a smile. I think he felt a little more awkward than I did...

Our journey continued, and an hour-and-a-half later we were finally in the land of the white rose. A short walk from the station brought us to our hotel (only 40 pocket checks in five minutes – not bad), where we were welcomed in by a charming porter in a truly exceptional top hat.

My proposal was planned, but I’d kept the plan loose enough to allow for changes in circumstance. I’d decided to propose in the privacy of our hotel room – which I already knew to be beautiful – as my partner is genuinely not one for any sort of public exhibition. My plan depended on the moment we were first in the room and unpacking, but I had anticipated a bit of time to get my head together before we would be able to check in. Not so. As the receptionist informed us, our room was ready and we could go straight up. It was now or never...

Making the ascent to the hotel’s third floor, it’s fair to say my heart was lodged somewhere close to my Adam’s apple. Yet, as we approached our room door and my partner flung it open with gusto, an instant, stabilising calm came over me. The immortal Sir Ian McKellen à la Gandalf the Grey would have been proud – the ring was secret, the ring was safe. All that remained now was the (hopefully) happy bit.

Having taken in the splendour of our temporary abode, we began to unpack our suitcases – me making a pointed show of rifling around extracting my aftershave, shoes and other bits and bobs, while strategically reaching into my pocket for the ring box. Having spent the best part of three years using throwaway curmudgeonly remarks to lay the foundations of a false indifference to weddings on my part, I was confident that even now she wouldn’t have a clue. As she frantically searched her bag for her glasses, I casually asked her if she would “just hold this for a second”. By the time the nature of the object in her hand had registered with her, I had spun down on to one knee in a manner that the late, great Patrick Swayze would have applauded, and braced myself for the words that every man who bares his heart in such a way hopes to hear.

“Shut up!” She exclaimed, staring at the ring box in her grip. Well, it was better than a similar two-syllable effort my friend had received from his partner...

Almost laughing, I asked my beloved the question itself, and after graciously giving me several opportunities to back out of the whole enterprise, with a twinkle in her eye she accepted.

And the rest, as they say, is history. And by ‘history’ I mean enough free bubbly to re-float the Titanic and a couple of very sore heads the following morning indeed. Well, we’re only here once – I’m just glad I’m here with her. I know, I know, ‘shut up’, obviously...

Happy New Year folks! Wish me luck, and when the moment comes, get me to the church on time!

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