I was beginning to despair of James ever asking me to marry him. We had been to several weddings together and every time the obligatory "It’ll be you two next" comment was made, he headed for the bar. I agonised about it for a while, and then decided that I might as well just stop worrying – he’d either ask me or he wouldn’t. I’m not a defeatist person, but on this occasion, I had given up hope.
Our first holiday abroad together was to Tenerife, one week in a lovely apartment. During the week we were away, it was both James’ birthday and our two year anniversary. The night before we flew out we stayed at my parents’ house as it is closer to the airport, and James got up very early, I assumed out of sheer excitement (and nothing to do with the very deflated airbed he was sleeping on!) I lay in bed half asleep, and could hear a rumble of male conversation – James and my dad, who was on his way out to work. I wondered what on earth they were having such a long conversation about, and asked James when he came back upstairs for a shower – he shrugged and said "Cricket". I tutted, rolled over in disgust and went back to sleep.
On the first day of our holiday, we slobbed about feeling knackered. On the second day, James was very keen to go out and ‘find a nice beach to walk on’, but I was having a little, shall we say ‘digestive trouble’, and could not be persuaded to get properly dressed, let alone leave the apartment. On Monday, we drove up to Teide, the volcano, and back down again, on the scariest roads I have ever driven on in my life, roads of the ‘looking down on the clouds’ variety, in a left-hand-drive car which I had not fully mastered (I kept opening the door when I wanted to change gear). James spent the whole day in knuckle-whitening, bowel-loosening terror as I attempted, with varying degrees of success, not to drive too close to the 5,000 metre precipices.
On Tuesday, our rep took us out for a boozy lunch which became a hammered afternoon and a slaughtered evening. Unbeknownst to me, during one of my frequent bathroom excursions, James confided that he wished to propose and he and Gail, the rep, hatched a plan. They would take me to a jewellery shop known to Gail, to look at ‘earrings’. James knows me very well. He knew that I would start off looking at earrings and than make a beeline for the rings. Gail was to encourage me in this, and make a note of my favourite. James would then sneak back and buy it, and propose to me on the beach later in the evening.
It all worked at first. However, my fat fingers proved the stumbling block. My favourite ring would not go past my knuckle, a fact which James observed. He would be unable to buy a ring in secret, as it would have to be sized for me, and he wanted me to be able to wear the ring after he asked me. He was trying to formulate a plan to overcome this, when the jeweller asked what ring size I was and I replied, all oblivious, "It depends what finger it’s for." What I meant was, the middle finger of which hand, as I still had no idea that I was actually choosing my engagement ring. James, however, thought that he was rumbled, and dropped to one knee there and then, in the middle of the jeweller’s shop, surrounded by tourists, and asked me to do him the honour of being his wife. Naturally, I burst into tears, Gail burst into tears, the whole shop applauded as I said yes, James looked immensely relieved, and the little Indian jeweller leant over, pointed at my ring finger and said, in an accent reminiscent of Ah-Pu in the Simpsons, "So, madam, I expect it will be for that finger then, no?"
Looking back, I can’t believe how oblivious I was, but I’m kind of glad in a way – it was such a lovely moment. James later confided that he thought the game was up when I asked what he and dad had been talking about – that was when he asked my dad for my hand in marriage. My dad is rather deaf and James had had to shout to get him to understand, and thought I had overheard. I foiled his plan on the Sunday by being poorly, and shot his nerves to ribbons on the Monday before he could put his back-up plan of asking me at the top of Teide into action (my foul mood at discovering the cable-cars weren’t working also persuaded him that the moment was perhaps not quite right…)
Anyway, we arranged to pick up the ring on Thursday evening after resizing, but I went horse riding on Thursday afternoon on an insane ex-bullfighting animal who spent two hours trying to pull my arms out of their sockets. As a result, my hands were so swollen that the ring would not fit – I wasn’t able to wear it until the following Sunday. I’m a nurse and have to take it off at work, but ever since that first moment when I slipped it onto my finger, my hand feels naked without it. We’ve set our wedding date for October 21st 2006. I can’t wait.