Very Realistic Mannequin

09/Nov/2004

Sometime last week was the One Year Anniversary. I spent so much time trying to figure out the actual date that the moment has now passed. These were the options:

1 NOVEMBER:  Out for birthday drinks, sitting beside each other in a bar, too nervous and crap to make any eye contact. Rory and Jane sat across from us no doubt wondering, Will these two bumbling morons ever get it together?

2 NOVEMBER:  After sulking all night that he Didn't Even Know I Was Alive, he called! I went to his house and we talked talked talked. By dawn I almost dared to think this could be something special. Just to be sure, I poked through his record collection. Didn't find anything too disturbing.

3 NOVEMBER:  Standing on the platform in the chilly night air, my breath shot out in anxious, near-hysterical puffs. I'd called in sick that day coz I couldn't bear for the conversation to end. And now five long months since we'd met at a pub quiz, the time was ripe to make my move! With the train rattling towards us there was potential for a dramatic and memorable moment, like Anna Karenina or something. But an ill-timed lunge, my kiss landing somewhere up his left nostril, was hardly something to tell the grandkiddies. Neither was me blurting, "You rawk!" before fleeing onto the train. All executed without any eye contact whatsoever.

6 NOVEMBER:  After days of agonising over the You Rawk Incident, we sat in a beautifully dingy old man's pub. I was nervous and euphoric, fumbling with Walker's crisps and a gin and tonic. The MTV Awards were on the telly, live from Leith. I had no Zany Stories left to charm him with after discovering he'd stalked his way through the entire WNP archive, so I resorted to probing intellectual debate: "So, re Michael Hutchence — would you rather people think you committed suicide or wanked yourself to death?"

We walked home in the drizzle, stopping outside a lighting shop. My heart was clattering against my ribcage as we made inane conversation about lampshades. I was considering attempting another Move when I felt his hand curl round my fingers, so warm and inviting. Simple, effective. Why hadn't I thought of that?

Twelve months on I've mastered the art of looking him in the eye, but the giddy excitement remains. I've know only made vague references to Gareth on here, and there's a few reasons for that. Part of me still feels so shy, lucky and nervous that I fear it will all disappear if I dare say it out loud. Yet at the same time I've never felt so calm and confident about anything in my whole little life, so sure that something was good and right.

I'm wary of getting too personal on here and the dear readers becoming nauseous and thinking I'm an indulgent wanker, but for a whole bloody year I've been bursting to blurt it out in besotted detail. I have a terrible habit of looking at life as a series of Exciting Episodes waiting to be rolled up into blog entries, so I may as well acknowledge we have a new character on the set who is just as top shelf as The Mothership or my dear sister Rhi. It's like how Heather Locklear was always billed as Special Guest Star on Melrose Place when everyone knew she was just as much a main player as Andrew Shue or Josie Bisset.

So, how about a character description? On paper he sounds a bit of a badass. I told The Mothership I was seeing a tattooed motorbike-riding shaven-headed rock-band-playing lout, so she had to come to Scotland to investigate. She discovered he was just a harmless lovely lad with an accent she couldn't understand a word of.

What else? He is kind. He is a complete dag and makes me laugh. He listens to people when they talk. He's a committed vegetarian who occasionally gives in to cravings for lamb. His family are nice, especially his dad who sends baffling text messages such as, "WHO ARE BLUE?". He works hard on his Crocodile Hunter impression. He has an infuriating inability to cut cheese in proper slices, instead hacks the block to shreds. He not only tolerates my compulsion to document everything but encourages it, "That'd be good for your blog, with a bit of exaggeration". He's up for all sorts of adventure, whether it's driving to the top of Scotland on a whim or lazing on the couch to snigger at personal ads on the Teletext.

It's also reassuring to have finally met my match in ineptitude. While I busied myself with destroying photocopiers, he was accidentally locking himself inside my house, setting oven gloves on fire and riding around France with a crash helmet full of maggots because he hadn't noticed he'd spilled food on it.

It feels incredible to love someone this much, to worry about them, to feel inspired by them, to want their happiness more than you want chocolate or for The Darkness to break up. It takes me by surprise every day. When we first met I was so wrapped up in the excitement of moving to a strange country, it took me months to realise I had fallen for the guy. Okay, Rhiannon had to stage a sort of intervention in a restaurant to make me see it.

I admit I am useless. But it was an incredible surprise, and I continue to be surprised every day, especially the days when I wake up and there is this precious person snoozing away on the half of the bed that I used to use for storage. I feel so stupidly lucky that I give him a tiny poke in the arm to make sure he's not just some sort of Very Realistic Mannequin That Says 'Aye' A Lot.

Even in my dark old days of yore, I was always an optimist deep down, excited by life and the scary/delicious uncertainty of the future. But these days I'm looking forward to it just that little bit more, knowing he's around.