Righto. I’ve looked it up. And the magical evening was on Friday, 9th February, 1973.
It was awfully romantic*. There had been an exhibition on at Christie’s, the auctioneers, called Fanfare into Europe, in the middle of January. The Sage was going, with his friend Arthur, and asked if I’d like to go along too. The Sage (he was, at this stage, the Sprout) had become good friends with our family over the past three years – we met him very shortly after my father died. His father was our family solicitor and the Sprout had asked my father to propose him for membership of the Yacht Club, which he’d done. When daddy died, he called round to say how sorry he was, and we all took to each other. I was only sixteen at this point, and the Sprout was over thirty, so romance was not in the air.
But we went to the exhibition, and we hit it off. So, a couple of days later, the Sprout rang and asked if I’d like to go to London again. We did whatever he was there to do – probably viewed an auction – and called in at the shop of his lovely friends Norman and Barbara, in the Old Brompton Road. Norman was also a professional musician – apart from other things, he was Morecambe and Wise’s pianist, and he also played at the Ritz. Barbara told me afterwards that the Sprout had never brought a woman to meet them before, and they were very intrigued.
We still got on well, and the next thing, we went out for dinner. He held my hand in the car on the way home. I was enchanted. I soon realised that I was being wooed. Now, even in 1973, wooing didn’t really happen. He was older than former boyfriends and entirely more charming.
But I’m romantic with instinctive limits, you see. I’d not have taken this very seriously if I hadn’t already known, liked and trusted him.
So, this Friday night. There was an art gallery at Long Melford and an exhibition was being held and there was a picture he was interested in – not for himself, actually, for a friend, but the friend decided against the picture so we’ve still got it. We had dinner afterwards, and then drove home. We *cough* stopped in a layby to talk for a while, and the atmosphere became rather heady. We both knew what he was going to say, but he was very nervous.
He came to the point. “Will you…”
“Will you marry me?”
Indeed, I said it a third time. He drove me home. I told my mother – it was well after midnight by this time, but she never went to sleep until I was back.
Okay, the rest tomorrow.
*well, no it wasn’t really