Leap year 1983
Like John Lennon, my boyfriend Martin Breese who I eventually married, had an 'aunt' Mimi. In fact the lady was the lonely widowed aunt of Martin's first wife Anthea, who craved his company cooking roasts to please him every night after work and especially over Xmas. When I entered his life in early 1981, she became jealous and, on seeing my photo with a 70s fox fur hat, said I looked like a Russian Princess! Aunt Mimi was openly antisemitic!
One day, after spending a weekend with me in my Kensington flat, Martin returned to Richmond in South London to find his bags packed in the hall and his room rented out! He never ever saw his ex-landlady again and moved in with me for ever.
I was still commuting to Paris and over my final 15 years in my dream city, had been given a spare office cum studio in the 15th district by an American friend, Michael. It was a practical working studio on the 10th floor of a tasteful modern block near Pasteur, overlooking manicured gardens with a view of the gardens, plenty of light, a desk, telephone and a bed. What more did I need? I already had a flat back in London and a busy antique collectables stand in Portobello. That was my double life. When I was in Paris, I was thinking about my UK business and clients, their dreams and passions and when I was in London, it was the reverse. I was In a dreamlike state constantly. I lived in a Walter Mitty world and loved my life.
And so did Martin! He wanted part of the cake and I was the cherry on the top. Over time he wore me down saying at his age he just couldn't keep on saying 'my girlfriend' when he wanted desperately to say 'my wife'. He needed a new home and a lifelong partner, someone who could feed and nurture him because he could not cook despite being very domesticated. The ideal faithful husband!
1981 and 1982 passed quickly. Suddenly it was Valentine's Day 1983 and we were at the studio in Paris. It was the stroke of midnight and I was sitting on the bed. Martin loomed over me.
'Don't you have something to ask me?'
'I am sure you have something to ask me!' Said he raising his voice.
'I am very sure you have something to ask me!' Said he, raising his voice even more.
The penny dropped or should I say the Euro.
'Oh! Do you want to get married?' I asked hesitantly.
'That's it! Call your mother. Call Michael with our good news'
My fate was sealed!
'I will never try to change you!’ he lied.
I was trapped in the gilded cage of commitment. My wings were clipped. It was ‘We’ not ‘I’. Promises. Promises. Martin, who always, like the Irish, embellished the truth, told our world I had proposed to him on Valentine's Day in Paris. He never mentioned that leap year came every 4 years!
Our long stable marriage lasted 22 years. We were together for 25 until he fell out of love with me breaking the fidelity bond. I, in the beginning was not 'in love' when we married in June 1983 but grew, over the years, to love adorable magical Martin, the manipulating magician who always got what he wanted in life.
In his twilight years, he broke every rule in the marital book and got away with it! He grew old disgracefully. Today now that he is gone to heaven or hell, I ask cynically myself, did he love me or my lifestyle?
Written on the plane from London to Bogota, Colombia 23/1/17.
(This links with The Best Funeral Ever)