Have you ever been on a date that didn’t go quite as planned? My story unfolded on a chilly February day over five years ago. Swaddled in a crimson coat with a wonky, waistline bow that belligerently refused to hold its shape, I sat at Charing Cross station at 11am, apprehensively spiralling curls into the frayed tips of my lightened hair, whilst waiting for my blind date to arrive.
Fashionably late is acceptable I understand, though I am much more in my comfort zone when I am the one partaking in the tardiness but when twenty minutes passed by with not a soul walking my way, I experienced the unpalatable taste of being stood up. Never one to excel at biting my tongue, my furious fingers showed no hesitation in dialling the number of the mysterious man, who failed to show.
“Umm…where are you” I softly howled, my wrath untamed by my feathery tone.
“I’m at home” he replied courteously, a well-spoken man whose articulate voice was making its cameo in my life. “Where are you” he continued – ” I thought we were meeting at 1?”
At this, my annoyance leaped like a frog on amphetamines but rather than question me any further, he rapidly vowed to dash out of the house, promising he could reach within 45 minutes. (And I silently vowed to waste only one more hour of my precious time on this inevitably doomed date before politely parting ways with a feeble, and as yet unconceived, excuse.)
But when I decided to double-check my texts, a gut-twirling moment of panic ensued. The text had said, “how about we meet at 1?” Not 11…
The mysterious man had been right to be surprised at my call and in her state of first-date butterflies, Little Miss Hasty here had gone and accused an innocent man when, in fact, she had only herself to blame for this embarrassing turn of events.
Let’s just say I cowered away from saying sorry by phone but the first chapter of what turned into an eight-hour date was peppered with incessant apologies over a lovely (earlier than planned) lunch date at the National Portrait Gallery. I guess he was a keeper for seeing past it. He was then – and he is now.
And that was how my journey with Pumpkin began.
It’s safe to say it was not love at first sight but I have not been allowed to forget my feisty phone manner that morning and Pumpkin had no hesitation on our wedding day in spinning an exaggerated version of our story, telling our 300 + guests that I had arrived two hours early for our first date, so keen was I to meet him!
The Audrey Hepburn Exhibition at National Portrait Gallery
It follows, therefore, that the National Portrait Gallery is more than a place of culture for me, more than just the home of that Duchess of Cambridge portrait that generated such mixed opinion. For Pumpkin and I, it is a trip down memory lane, filled with humorous and nostalgic sentiment and when I received an invitation to attend the recent Audrey Hepburn exhibition there, I simply couldn’t refuse.