Fish 2007 - Happy endings do exist!
Dear FishHeads, Freaks, fans and The Company,
This may take some of you completely by surprise, however the more romantically inclined who have a sense of the undeniable will probably recognise that what I am about to announce was written in the stars a long time ago.
On February 14th under the central arch of the Micklegate bar in York I got down on one knee and proposed marriage to Heather Findlay. She accepted and we are getting married in Haddington in early August this year.
This will probably go down as one of the biggest u-turns in my Life but I can honestly say I am happier now than I can remember and feel that this decision is the most natural and obvious one I could have made.
When we parted at the beginning of October last year, on my instigation, I had stubbornly thought that I was making the correct and logical move and accepted the ensuing heartbreak with bleak stoicism. Over the next four months I went through purgatory and embarked on my own personal Road to Damascus. Never a day went by when I didn't think of her and I continued to try to deny my feelings for her until in early January I received some unconnected phone calls from mutual friends. They all commented on how sad it was that we had split and asked if there was any way we could work it out between us. I was made aware that Heather was also not over the split and that she too still felt strongly towards me.
After a meeting with "The Judge"; one of the "Mostly Autumn" road crew and a great friend to us both, who had come up to the studio to pick up Gavin Griffiths' drum kit for their forthcoming tour, I was prompted by him to call her.
I told Heather that I had changed my mind about having a family and that I was willing to commit everything to our relationship and a Life together. Heather was understandably cautious but I assured her that this wasn't impetuous and that I had no intention of repeating my actions in October.
Over the next week and an average of three hours of phone calls a night we agreed to meet at Ambleside in Cumbria where she was rehearsing with the band for the forthcoming tour.
It was agreed neutral ground and as we had stayed there together in the early days of our relationship there was a certain resonance. I can honestly say that I was exceedingly nervous; as was she, but when we met it was if we had only been parted for a couple of weeks rather than four months.
It was obvious that we were still very much in love with each other and over the next two days I tried to reassure her that my intentions were sincere and honourable.
We agreed not to rush things and to take time getting to know each other again. An admirable idea but our feelings for each other were taking control of events.
We met ten days later in London after another barrage of marathon phone calls as "Mostly Autumn" were playing the Astoria. We raised a few eyebrows from fans that caught us very much "loved up" as we entered the venue and my presence at the gig was more than noticed.
The London weekend confirmed what we were both feeling for each other and as we had already decided to meet up in York on Valentine's Day in four days time I knew what I had to do.
I had to show total commitment and give Heather complete assurance that I was being completely genuine.
I arrived by train with a dozen long-stemmed red roses and a bottle of chilled champagne. One year to the date we were on a boat in Egypt and here I was in York staying in the Ibis hotel. A bird we had seen many times from the upper decks on the cruise and on the brooch I had bought Heather on our first Christmas together. The Fellini day had just begun. First up was lunch at the Loch Fyne restaurant; oysters and wine and two hours of deep eye to eye conversation about the future together before we walked arm in arm toward the Micklegate bar. On the way we passed an Italian restaurant where Heather pointed out that the owner was a friend of her mothers and had mentioned to her a couple of weeks ago that he had seen Heather on a recent televised show from Wembley celebrating Fender guitars. Heather had been picked up on a crowd shot and I had seen the same programme during our split and had thought at the time that I was hallucinating as I was talking about her to one of my best friends when her face appeared on screen out of the blue.
She mentioned that she hadn't seen the guy for years and then just as we passed he emerges from the door and starts to talk excitedly about the show and offering us his only remaining table and a special night in his restaurant. The name of the restaurant? "Fellini's"! How much more of a sign did I need?
We moved through York and the Viking Society street fair (They had to be represented somewhere on the day :)) to the Southern gateway in the city wall, the Micklegate, where we had kissed for the very first time back in December 2005 before the "Mostly Autumn" show at the Railwayman's Institute. Time was not on my side as I was to some extent playing all this by ear. I hadn't bought a ring and had figured that if everything was right that I would propose and then get the ring with Heather as I didn't know what she would want on her hand. By then I was sure that my proposal stood a good chance of being accepted but it was getting late and the shops would soon close.
Just as we neared the Micklegate Heather wanted to go for a glass in the Akchorne pub where we had a drink soon after meeting on our first date and where we had been subjected to the "Snogger's bell" to dissuade us from our amorous attentions to each other. I nervously clocked my watch. It was after five.
The pint went down fast and I quickstepped over the cobbles, Heather in tripping high heels, and to the gate.
There are three arches, two for pedestrians and the central arch for traffic. As we got under the right hand arch I got down on my knee and proposed. At first I thought I had totally misread the situation as Heather hesitated and seemed to panic. I thought my fate was going to be similar to that of the last two Jacobite heads that had been displayed on the arches but then she started to laugh and asked where the ring was. I explained that I hadn't got one but that we could get one now. We virtually ran down the street hand in hand looking for a jeweller but could only find a Japanese trinket shop where I bought a £3 piece of "bling" just in case we couldn't find a "proper" one as we had to get "properly" engaged on that day. It was five thirty. We passed a dimly lit "Argos" store, another chance gone, and into the town where I caught a glimpse of Fraser Hart the Jeweller's store and they were locking the door. I ran full pelt to the shop, banged on the door to get the attention of the manager and shouted out "I need a ring and I need one now!"
They hesitantly opened the door to a 6 foot 5 Scotsman in the descending gloom and I explained the situation. They agreed to help and a very nice lady showed me about five rings she thought would fit the bill. Heather had said she didn't want yellow gold and wanted a simple stone. I saw an 18 point star diamond :) in a square setting on platinum and I knew straight away that this was the one.
I was wearing the biggest smile I could fit on my face. It was duly paid for and boxed and Heather and I waltzed back to the Micklegate for the replay. The planet Venus shone brightly and alone in the heavens.
This time I waited on the lights to hit red and ushered Heather under the central arch where once again I got down on one knee just as the lights turned green. I pulled the ring from my pocket and proposed again while the traffic stopped for the proceedings. She accepted and not one horn sounded as we kissed. It was truly a beautiful moment in both our lives.
Both our sets of parents and families are overjoyed and obviously our close friends are incredibly happy at the way things have turned out. My daughter Tara is also most importantly delighted for us both and has been incredibly positive and supportive in recent weeks.
We are both ecstatic and are closer and more in love now than ever before. It may sound strange but the 4 months we spent apart made us (and definitely me) realise just how much we are in love with each other and in fact it was probably the best thing that happened to us in the long run despite the heartache involved.
We originally planned to get married after the touring next year but it didn't take long for both of us to elect for a wedding this summer as Heather is moving in to the Studio in the coming months and we both felt it was the "proper" thing to do.
Venues and dates of the wedding are being kept quiet at the moment for obvious reasons but we are well ahead in our preparations. My best men are Steve Vantsis, Frank Usher and Yatta. Heathers matron of honour is Angela Gordon with Olivia Sparnenn, Anne-Marie Helder, my niece Ellie Gibbs and my daughter Tara, bridesmaids on the day. It's all coming together so quickly and smoothly it's as if it was always meant to happen!
I honestly never thought that I would ever get married again and that it would take a very special lady to capture my heart and fulfil that place in my Life. But I found one. A very special, beautiful, caring, talented and wonderful lady. I couldn't be happier than I am just now.
Happy endings do exist!
Email February 28th 2007