It was a cold winter evening. Fresh and clear. The date was
Tuesday 14th February, 1995 and I did the unthinkable. I
asked somebody to marry me.
Does that sound terrible? Let me clarify. It wasn't
unthinkable to me but to my family, friends and colleagues.
It was outside their perception of who and what I was.
I had been a bachelor for thirteen years and people were
used to that. Like me, they had been shocked when the last
'serious' lady had departed from my life and that too, at
the time, had been an unthinkable occurrence. Still, life
goes on and we had all got used to the new situation. Well,
they had. To be honest I never really got 'used to it' - I
had adapted. Whilst life on ones own has it's advantages and
it certainly was a valuable time for me there was always a
feeling of ... hmm, incompleteness? The plain fact is, I
like being in a one on one serious relationship. Sorry guys,
no I'm not.
A few weeks earlier a circular had gone round the workplace
informing staff of a forthcoming St. Valentine's Day dinner-
dance. The price was reasonable and drinks were included. I
couldn't get over that. To be honest I didn't really believe
it. In most similar cases it usually meant only the first
drink was free. However, as it turned out it really was
true. You could drink all you wanted all evening long,
albeit there were no strong liquor drinks available.
Anyway, I decided it would be a nice evening out and
something of an interesting experience for my Swedish
girlfriend. She'd only been in the country (England) a
little over four weeks and everything was still strange and
exciting for her. So I bought two tickets and at that time I
had no notion of a marriage proposal.
I don't know where the idea came from. It was just a few
days before the event that I first started to toy with the
idea of proposing at the St. Valentine's dinner-dance. I
didn't mention the idea to anyone. This was all secret
inside me. And like I said, nobody would have thought there
could be such a romantic beast roaming about unchecked in my
head. But there was, because by the day of the dinner-dance
I had not only decided to propose but I was going to make it
something of a memorable and special event. I had a plan.
The relationship under discussion here was actually only a
few months old. You might then be forgiven for thinking that
I was being a little rash. My plan involved getting the disc
jockey to call my girlfriend up onto the stage and I was
going to propose to her, on stage, in public, and in her own
language. My God! What if she said, No? Do you know, I never
even considered the possibility. I was that sure of my
I would like to go on and tell you the full story of how
Katarina and myself first met. Of the immense problems we
faced. The resistance and even the maliciousness that we had
to overcome during the first few years of our relationship.
Even to this day, some thirteen years on we are still
'paying', at least financially anyway, the price of our
decision to be together. It's quite a story but far too long
for an article such as this. What I will tell you is that
these initial difficulties did not deter us. In fact it made
us look at our situation and discuss it in detail. The
result was that we had already decided that we were going to
live together for the rest of our lives no matter what. I
find it strange now looking back and I realize that whilst
we had decided to be together we had never discussed
marriage. The question of marriage only came up that Tuesday
evening, 14th February 1995.
It was a lovely evening. The meal provided was excellent,
far beyond what we had expected for the ticket price and
drink flowed freely. There was music, dancing, excellent
company and it really was a wonderful atmosphere. At the
height of the evening I made some excuse to leave our table.
Whilst away out of sight, but watching carefully (I wanted
to see her face) the disc jockey stopped the music and
called out Katarina's name. She told me afterwards that the
shock of hearing her name made her deny it to herself. After
all, it couldn't be her. What had she to do with these
people? You can imagine the things that would have gone
through her mind in those few seconds. But the disc jockey
persisted. Puzzled, bewildered, a little scared, alone -
where's my David? she gradually made her way up on to the
There were about 150 people present that evening, most of
them strangers to us, and now all attention was focused on
this lone Swedish girl standing under the lights on stage.
The disc jockey came forward and speaking into the
microphone explained to the now very attentive audience that
Katarina's boyfriend David, who now made an appearance from
the wings, had something he wanted to say. The DJ explained
I would be speaking in Swedish but as this was St.
Valentine's Eve he felt sure everyone would get the 'gist'
of what was happening.
So I did it. In the traditional format I went down on one
knee and said in my broken Swedish, "Vill du blir gift med
Katarina explained afterwards that what I should have said
was, 'Vill du gifta dig med mej?' but that didn't matter
because my version was perfectly understandable. She
responded with a yes answer and only now do I shudder to
think of what it would have been like if I had
miscalculated. Anyway, she said yes, so as of 14th February
1995, St. Valentine's Day, Katarina and David became
formally engaged to be married. We were married in England
at the Bradford register office later that year on 7th
October. Thirteen years later, still married, still very
happy we often wonder if any of the people present that
evening remember the antics of that crazy Englishman who
acted totally out of character. But as Cupid would say,
"Love's like that, and my arrows take no prisoners."
Well, I can never forget our engagement anniversary. Listen
up guys. You might be foolish enough to forget your wedding
anniversary but I promise you, get engaged on St.
Valentine's Day and you can't forget it. It's impossible.
The good part is, neither will she.
This year my sweetheart has promised me a very private and
personal candle lit dinner. No, we are not going out. She
wants to do this herself. She loves cooking and she loves to
do something a bit different if possible. Well, St.
Valentine's Day opens up all kinds of special cooking
opportunities and I have no doubt that my gorgeous Swedish
bride of thirteen years will unleash her creative talents
and produce a Valentine's specialty that excels anything you
could think of.
Yes, she is that good. I'm a very lucky man indeed. And yes,
Cupid's arrow is still stuck there.
If you would like some idea of the kind of Valentine
delights that Katarina will be offering, take a look at our
Valentine's Day Recipes - Click Here Now