Friday, 7th November 2003.


I was, I'll admit, extremely sceptical of online relationships until relatively recently. This has little to do with the sites themselves and much more to do with me. I stopped using Christian Connection, for example, when I realised that my search method was all wrong. Now, I'm not knocking C.C. - it's a great site, very thorough and easy to use and it has been of great help to people I know. You *can* form relationships from personals websites; it's merely a question of looking properly.

In my case, I was perhaps a little too specific in my selection criteria: I refused to talk to anyone who didn't have a photo and who didn't live within fifty miles. This, I suppose, nullifies the point of the site - sure, compatibility *is* important, but the point of the web (and I know I'm teaching you all to suck eggs here) is that the barriers crumble and you become a disembodied essence. Stripped of physical characteristics, you - wait, we've done this, haven't we?

My point is that what we thought might just be a crush (as Emily recounted so beautifully in her entry in the early hours of this morning) developed in the way it did because we were *right* for each other, nothing else. Distance relationships are never easy, but she and I didn't start this thing looking for anything - we literally exchanged some words of comfort and support over a few difficult months, and then one morning at the end of April started talking, and we haven't stopped since. It takes a while before you suddenly realise you're too far gone, you're too deeply involved, and that you could no longer imagine a world without the other person. So it's fair to say that the medium assists you, as long as you use it properly. But the medium is the means to the end - I find it difficult to believe in fate, but perhaps you really will meet that person eventually, if you're supposed to, and it's feasible that had I not been using Mono I'd have met Emily somewhere else, or - well, you get the idea.

I spend too much time analysing, I think. To shut me up, here are some words of wisdom and assorted responses from various interested parties over the last day or so.

"You proposed without a ring? Tut tut. You didn't do something like dropping it in the bottom of a champagne glass or something?"

"Congratulations, you sensible man."

"You can't get married yet! It's not a getting married day!"
(Benedict, to Emily)

"Now - you are not allowed to turn into a smug married ok - just warning you now!! please note that the following phrases are not acceptable:
- just hang in there it'll happen for you
- i remember when i was single...
- but think of your freedom!
- etc etc (can't be bothered to go on)"

(When I'd first broken the news to my adopted sister, she gave out a shriek that was loud enough to attract the attention of everyone in the train carriage, even over a phone. Straight after this she lapsed into noises that only dogs can hear.)

Random conversation in the office:
Sara: "Did you get down on one knee?"
Me: "No, but I was standing down a step or two."
Sara: "That's cheating!"
Me: "Thing is, I couldn't really do it on Valentine's Day, which is when I was thinking about doing it."
Sara: "No, you absolutely can't propose on Valentine's Day, it really is too much."
Emma: "Or New Year's Eve, which is also rather cliched."
Tristan: "You can't use any of those days."
Me: "No, well, it was the right moment, and Bonfire Night will always be special to us now."

"I knew, actually. Somehow I had a feeling, when I saw you two together for the first time."
(Daphne Powell)

"Now, my dear, what about the ring? I think that three diamonds is 'I love you', and five is 'I want you to be my wife'."
"I don't think I can stretch that far, Peggy. What about two and a half? What does that mean?"
"I have no idea. You're just being difficult now...."
(Conversation with Peggy Jones)

"You two look right with each other. I could see that the other week when you came over. You just fit. And she was lovely."

"Fucking hell!"
(my brother)

And last night, in the kitchen:
"Tell me honestly. If gran had been alive - and coherent, as she was in the years before her final decline - what do you think she'd have made of this?"
"I think she'd have approved. But she would have had a lot of advice to give. And she'd have been quick to tell Emily how lucky she was to have you."
"Yes," said my mother with a trace of irony. "I remember that well. I'll probably do the same thing tomorrow."
"You wouldn't!" I said.
"No, I won't. Actually I'll tell her how lucky you are to have her."
"Well, I know that."

When I rang my grandfather later, he said "You look after each other. The same way granny and I did."

It's funny; it turns out that I proposed to Emily on the same day that my grandparents met, seventy-one years ago this year. Time is a man-made measurement and we place far too much emphasis on dates, in general. But still.

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