Mrs Tin and I met in a club called Rotaract. This was a junior arm of Rotary, for people aged 18 to 28, and was a part social, part charitable organisation. For example sometimes we’d have inter-club sport or quiz challenges, sometimes we’d fund-raise, or paint houses for elderly people. I had originally planned to say more about Rotaract here than just that, but I realise now that it was such a great organisation, and one that did me so much good, that it deserves its own post at some future date.
Mrs Tin joined about 4 months after I did, and we soon became good friends, and it became accepted by everybody that any time we’d to drive (at terrifying speeds, when I look back) to another club’s fundraiser anywhere in the country, that Mrs Tin would travel in my car, and that she would sit in the front beside me, where we’d happily chat for the entire journey.
One weekend we held a careers exhibition for young people in the area. Each of us had a little stand where we talked about the jobs that we did, from the point of view of someone who was just really starting out in the career and could still remember how tough the exams were, how crap the pay was to begin with, exactly how long you’d have to spend at college, rather than bring some person who’d risen to the top of the tree and who’d say, “oh, it’s a great career, I have two cars and we spend our summers in our mobile home in Courttown ” (the height of high-living in the 1980s, no-one had an apartment in Spain, except for people who’d got really drunk at Timeshare events in Marbella).
After the exhibition was over we went, as we always did, for a meal, then to the pub, then to a disco (that’s what they were called back then). We were all on a high after the success of the event, I was on a special high because I’d been on national radio to talk about it, and so I decided to try (oh God, I’ve written about my blackouts, my pacemaker, my derealisation, my depression, but this is a truly mortifying post) to make this the evening on which Mrs Tin and I would become more than friends.
It did not start well. She was sitting in the pub on one of those long sofas that run along the wall, a friend was talking to her but sitting about two feet away. I strolled over and planted myself nonchalantly between them.
What I hadn’t realised was that Mrs Tin was sitting at the very end of the sofa, my friend was sitting on a stool, there was no seat between the two and I dropped into the gap like a stone.
Anyway, we moved on to the disco, we danced in a circle like looners to the fast songs, and then the “slow set” started, and Mrs Tin and I slow-danced together as we had many times before since, as I’ve said, we were good friends. I should be able to remember the song (I’m trying to suppress this awful feeling that it was “I only have eyes for you”), but you rarely recognise the moment when your life is going to change forever, so I have no idea what was playing when we kissed for the first time, and became girlfriend and boyfriend.
The date was February 28th, 1981, thirty years ago today.
Happy anniversary, Mrs Tin.