Thursday, 22nd July 2004.

James: Of course, it would be in tremendously poor taste to cram this full of icky sentiment and sugary pet names. Wouldn't it, snugglepuss?

Emily: Beehive yourself honeybunch!
Aaaaaanyway, weddings.
Last night we made a list of all the things we haven't done yet. It was quite long! But at least it's all down on paper now.

Friday, 23rd July 2004.

Emily: Exciting moment last night!
We booked the airline tickets for the honeymoon, and as I am going to get my passport changed before then, I had to book in my married name! It was so exciting seeing it up there on the screen :)

James: We decided that a brief summary of our relationship thus far would be in order, and Em's asked me to do it. You have no idea how close I came to scribbling this in the form of a Nick Drake song, but maybe a straight-up narrative would work better.

The first time I almost met Emily was at John Herbert's birthday party, last year. She couldn't attend because of illness, and at the time I remember feelings of slight disappointment, although I shut myself off from what it might mean. We'd already been speaking on a mildly casual basis for months - her sending me words of support and virtual hugs when I was going through a lot of bad stuff with Sandy, with me trying to return the favour when her cat went missing.

One Monday morning at the end of April 2003, she sent me a message. And I sent one back - and we didn't stop. One week later we were wrestling with the concept of meeting in the flesh and what implications that might have. Eventually I had my first glimpse of her in a car park outside the Showcase Cinema in East Reading, a place that will forever have a romantic association. There were lots of long silences, eye contact, and swans.

Things went from there, really, with her cottoning onto the idea that this was 'it' faster than I did - as early as two weeks into our fledgling relationship we were discussing children's names and what hymns we'd have at the wedding. But in my idiocy I got scared and tried to slow things down, only to realise almost too late that this was completely wrong. It was on a starswept beach in Blackpool at the end of July that I realised that we were supposed to be together for the rest of our natural lives, and even then I was so dense that I only got around to actually telling her this over a month later.

I had originally planned to pop the question on one of three dates: New Year's Eve 2003, Valentine's Day 2004, or our first anniversary (which we'll always measure from that first time we met, even though the getting together thing more or less happened online during the following week). On November 5th we strolled along the London Embankment watching the fireworks, and that was when I realised that The Right Moment was being more or less handed to me on a plate, so I shook off my nerves and asked her to marry me. I still remember the thrill of that night and the subsequent euphoria - the crazed, hurried dash back to Kings Cross where she managed to jump on a train just before it was due to leave, with me waving frantically and racing the train along the platform, before walking back through the semi-renovated station seemingly on a pocket of air, in a daze, and finally slumping down into a Reading-bound train full of Arsenal fans. Before I made the obligatory phone calls I ran into a couple of work colleagues on their way back from an art gallery, who were greeted with the words "I've just proposed to my girlfriend!".

The rest of it more or less went as standard. We bought the ring that week, and booked the reception venue a couple of weeks later. We have a reception band, several artists for the open mic session, ushers, bridesmaids and at least one reader. The honeymoon is in the process of being booked and Em's mother is making the cake. My best man is Jon Skeet, who was the first person to be told. At the beginning of this year we embarked upon a lightning search for property in the Oxford area, and began living together at the end of January.

Emily never ceases to amaze me - in terms of how caring she can be, how tolerant she is of my occasional bad moods (most of which come from dealing with other motorists) and strange little quirks that would drive most other people mad. I am still incapable of explaining why I have to double check every door on the car whenever I leave it, or why I never cry at anything in real life while Casablanca reduces me to tears every time it's on, or why I chew my towel, but she doesn't seem to mind. While it's true that you don't really know someone until you live with them, and that this is usually implied in a negative context, I think it's fair to say that despite (or perhaps because of) the occasional quarrel we're closer now than we've ever been. She's unflinchingly loving, companionable, and my best friend as well as my partner. We live in a country that suffers from bad weather, media-inspired pessimism and sociological paranoia and an obsession with superficiality, and this often makes me glum - but as long as I'm in her arms, I don't have a care in the world.

Emily: I should add my part now.

As James said, we just started talking one day and didn't stop. We still haven't stopped! I don't think we'll ever run out of things to talk about. Though actually, nowadays we have more silences, because there's no need to say anything, we often just know what the other person is thinking.

Right from the start we were joking about getting married and having children, in a semi-serious way. I think I knew pretty early on, but I didn't want to believe it in case I was wrong and did something stupid, because after all I barely knew this man. Happily, the better we have got to know each other, the better we get on, and so I was right after all. I wasn't sure that James was sure until September last year. He'd told me that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me before that, but I didn't know whether to believe it or not. (It still surprises me that there is really anyone that crazy in the world!) But one evening, after a lovely meal, standing together on the end of Mevagissey harbour, looking out at the moonlight reflected in the sea, though neither of us said anything, I knew that I was serious and he was serious and it was really going to happen.

A few months later we took the afternoon off work and met up in London for our six month anniversary. It crossed my mind that he might propose, but thought he wanted to wait a bit so it wasn't likely. Then half way through the evening that moment arrived and I knew he was going to ask just before he did, but I still couldn't believe it. Mind you, I think he was almost as surprised as I was. Afterwards I was walking along in a daze saying "Are you sure? It's just that I thought you wanted to wait a bit. You can change your mind if you like. Are you really sure?" (Of course he was.)

We bought the ring a few days later, it's white gold and the main stone is a pale blue topaz, and it has two teeny diamonds. That weekend my cheeks actually started aching from smiling so much. That's never happened to me before!

Since we've been living together, we've become even closer. I always knew that we would be able to work things out, if there were any disagreements, but they are few and far between, and none of them over anything important. I think it's incredible that we've both managed to find someone who is such a perfect fit, when on paper it doesn't look like a particularly great match.

James says he is amazed at the way I put up with him and his funny ways, but it's not really "putting up". (I think the way he chews his towel is cute!!) He is so patient with me, and if I'm being moody or upset he's totally understanding. He's learning to cook, does all the ironing and hovering and a big share of the washing up. He even cleaned up cat sick the other day. Now there is a true gentleman! In the past I've often found it difficult to feel loved. Nowadays I can't help but feel loved because of the 101 different ways he shows me it every day. He's also a very silly man who does the most ridiculous things just to get a smile out of me when I'm feeling glum. And on top of all this he's talented, intelligent and likes my cat.

Anyway, I think that is enough sop, the rest of this diary will be about our approaching wedding which is happening on 9th October this year.

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