Romance under the stars

I’m going to be a father-in-law!

Now, in the greater scheme of things, this may not be exactly earth-shattering news, but it came as much as a surprise to me as it probably did to my future daughter-in-law, the delightful Angela.

While the younger son, Jim, has been adding to the Workman lineage with the addition of my two darling grandkids Katie and Danny (with a fair bit of help from his lovely lady, Jo), the elder boy, Tom, hadn’t shown a great deal of inclination in the settling-down stakes.

The last time the subject of marriage had come up we were sat at the table in Jim and Jo’s house, swirling glasses of red wine after a particularly good roast beef lunch. Goaded by the then heavily pregnant Jo about when he was going to pop the question, Tom said, “I’ll marry Ange when she can whistle.” I’ve heard of a number of reasons for putting a proposal off, but whistling is definitely not one of them!

For the next half-hour we did everything we could to get Angie to make any sort of whistling sound; hard blow between pursed lips, tongue behind the teeth, two fingers in mouth – everyone’s favourite method, but to no avail. I couldn’t help thinking, though, (and I hope my dear first-born will forgive me for saying this) if someone can pucker a pair of lips like that, the last thing I’d want to be doing is waiting for a whistle coming out of them!

But anyway.

Last night I’d just got back from a delightfully unexpected evening out, when, just before midnight I got a call on my mobile phone (cell phone, if there are any Americans are getting this so far). It was Tom, telling me that he was sat on the beach under the stars in Mallorca with Angie, on the last night of his holiday, and he’d just proposed. What delighted me was that that I was the second person he’d called because, in an amazingly rare moment of romance, he’d phoned Angie’s Italian dad, Fergie, to ask for her hand in marriage. ‘How wonderful,’ I thought, but it was only this morning that I found out he’d earlier rung Angie’s Irish mum, Jacinta, to make crystal clear that he’d get an acceptance from dad before chancing his arm with Fergie. Belt and braces, my son…belt and braces.

Apparently, he had to ask Angie three times before she was convinced he was serious. I’m with you, girl…if the main criteria to get hitched is that I’ve got to expel even a low-level of sound through my lips, the last thing I’m going to do is take the demander seriously when we’re sat on a beach under the stars…particularly after a rather good meal and a tasty bottle of wine. But, God bless, she finally got the message and said…well, I’m  not exactly sure what she said because I wasn’t there, but I guess she said yes or he wouldn’t have phoned me, would he?

After shocking me in a totally delightful way, he handed the phone over to the girly-girl, who was giggly-ecstatic that she’d finally nailed the divil down – without having to render ‘God Save Our Queen’ in two tonalities through pursed lips. Short of a pair of handcuffs and leg irons, he’s hers!

When we hung up, I remembered a film from the 1970s called Harold and Maud, about a woman in her eighties and a boy in his twenties. He fell in love with her and wanted to marry her. One evening they went to the beach, and he proposed. She took the ring and threw it as far into the ocean as her old arms would allow. He was shocked, but her reasoning was delightful. “I’m old, and I’ll die soon, but whatever happens at least we know where our ring is.”

Move on fifteen years. I’m on holiday in Venice with my lady of then, Tina. Despite a fraught relationship, I’d planned this holiday in the hope that we would return to the UK as a couple. We’d argued our way through most of Venice, and on the last day, full of angst and repressed tears, we’d taken a vaporetto, the water buses that plied the canals, to the Lido, the island off the city, and the only place where buses, cars and motorbikes are allowed. The wonderfully invasive noise of humanity, after the insular, cottoned, sounds of water-born taxis, buses and delivery boats of the canals.

We sat on the beach. Probably the only moment of peace between us for two weeks. I put my hand in my pocket and pulled out a cheap ring I’d bought in a market in Manchester two weeks earlier. It was a symbol, bought at a moment full of positive thoughts, hopes for the future. I gave it to her, and told her the story of the film. “It’s in your hands. Throw it out into the water, and whatever happens, at least you know where it is.” She heaved it out as far as it would go; we sat there for a while, my arm around her shoulders, and then we walked hand-in-hand back to the vaporetto.

Shortly after, we parted, and I’ve not seen her since then.

But back to Angie and Tom. I wish them the greatest happiness possible. If happiness isn’t available at any particular moment, then I hope they can put antagonisms aside and remember the moment on the beach below the stars, with nothing more than the lapping of the waves, the sparkle of the sky above, the magic of the moment, and the soft, gentle love that they have for one another.

I salute you…I love you both…and I hope that you can hold in your hearts that moment on the beach when you knew that you were, each for the other, a couple who have come to realise that, actually, “I love you. Your are the person I want to spend my life with.”

God bless, enhorabuenas, and I look forward to being the proud dad as you walk down the aisle with your guapa chica.

 Te quiero, carino

Tu papa

If you would like to know more about Spain, visit my web site, , and Spain Uncovered


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