Monday, 13 January 2014

A Parisian Proposal

The following post was originally published here on 26th April, 2007.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mountjoy's Best Laid Plans

I got lucky, eleven years ago today. Down on bended knee, in the Jardin Du Trocadero, across the River Siene, Mountjoy asked for my Fair Lady’s hand in marriage. And for reasons that will forever be a mystery to me, Lady Mountjoy accepted my proposal, and has accompanied me on the first decade in a long journey of married life.

The proposal did not quite go as planned – these things never do. We were on a month long circuit of Western Europe, and there had been a number of places I thought of surrendering my bachelorhood; Venice, Burano, Lake Como, and in a week or so’s time we would be staying at a castle in Scotland. But my own heart was set on Paris; I’d been there before, and for all the clichĂ©s, had enjoyed the natural elegance and style of the city (something I will never have).

Having locked in Paris, Eddie, my plan was to escort Lady Mountjoy to the top of the Eiffel Tower after dinner, and do the Layton Hewitt, as the city of lights glittered away. Boring! I hear you cry. Maybe. But you know what? It was, and is I think, something not too many women would not be thrilled with. So on Anzac Day, having dined at a non descript but interesting restaurant in the middle of the left bank tourist mecca, I was set to head for the Tower. Unfortunately, Lady M was not. Try as I could (without being too obvious) I could not convince her to make a detour to see the Tower, and Paris by night. She was tired (we were in week three of a fairly hectic schedule) and it was late, and Lady M had not been as mesmorised by Paris as I was. So, the trip was aborted. Fuckety-Fuck-Fuck-Fuck!

Okay, Mountjoy, what is plan B? You’ve been up the tower during the day two days ago, so you can’t scam her back up there again - and it is not the same in the daytime, anyway. Just have to play it by ear. We explored the city in the morning, and by lunch had loaded up with the brie and camembert baguettes, and were scoffing them in a quiet little square somewhere around Palais Galliera. Do it now? Nah. Nice, but not memorable. We worked our way up to Trocadero, and the classic view across to the Eiffel Tower. Okay, now we are close. But too open, too many people. I need intimacy. So I lead the way down toward the river, and we head through one of the green groves that shoulder the broadway. I spot a shady area, off to the left, and like a bungee jumper, know now is The Time, and that is The Spot. I take her hand, lead her off the pathway, stop to face her, and drop to my left knee…

The moment will always be special. She shed a tear. We kissed. As we walked back to the main thoroughfare, a homeless woman passed us, and veered off the path to our secluded glen. We both turned in time to see her stop, hitch up her skirt, and pee all over the grass for what seemed an eternity. How elegant and stylish. How Parisian! A worthy omen.

We had opted to take the Eurostar back to London, so said goodbye to our tour group that morning. I felt incredibly proud to tell our tour guide (who then announced it to the group) that Lady Mountjoy had learned a new French word the day before: Fiancé. Quite a few of the group were surprised - they had assumed we were aleady married.

As luck would have it, Dalhousie Castle near Edinburgh turned out to be a much more romantic option; a huge suite, the over the top snobbery of a library room for us to take drinks before dining, and a restaurant filled with armour and styled as The Dungeon Room made a bigger impression on both of us than many of the sights of Classic Europe. Walking through the grounds there, it would have made the perfect backdrop to a wedding proposal. But the deal was done, and history had already been made. You can’t have regrets about that sort of thing. Not when she said “yes”.

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