A Moment That Mattered: The Moment I Met the Love of My Life
Simon Parker Bowles describes how a summer holiday changed the course of his life forever.
Fate befalls us all at some time in our lives. My lot fell in on a hot August day on the Greek island of Spetses when I bumped into a beautiful Australian girl named Carolyn Potter. To say that she was not immediately bowled over by my wit and charm would be a massive understatement ("arrogant, self-important English twit" would about sum up her initial impression). But, thankfully, fate intervened again and we found ourselves thrown together the next day on a beautiful sailing boat called Blue Girl. We searched for common ground. I suspect I won her over by discussing how much we paid our cleaning ladies in London. A risky tactic as I had no idea what I paid mine.
The next day Carolyn returned to London, where she was now living, and I continued my tragic attempts to convince other young ladies that I was the man of their dreams. A few days later my holiday came to an end and I returned to London and my office in Pimlico. Now, that fate really kicked in! My secretary reminded me that I was due to attend a charity film premiere of Jesus Christ Superstar that very evening and I had purchased two tickets. August in London is not a fertile place for finding young ladies at such late notice, or at any notice, and my rather pathetic black book was a miserable failure. Then I remembered Miss Potter!
Being an impulsive fellow I had wheedled her telephone number out of her, not totally given with good grace. So I rang The Royal College of Art where she was working and, luckily, she was there. After a slightly awkward re-introduction and apologies for the late nature of the invitation, I asked if she was available that evening. I sensed a feeling of relief when she thanked me but said she was already going to the film in another party and maybe we will bump into each other at the cinema. So we said our goodbyes and with that meaningless "we should meet up some time” rang off. I felt I had got the message.
Knowing my black book had nothing to offer I decided to go alone, knowing I was meeting up with a couple of old friends for dinner after the film. At about four o'clock my secretary put through a call “A Miss Potter is on the line.” What could this mean? “Are you still looking for someone for tonight?” she asked. My ridiculous pride almost made me say “Of course not” but I came clean. Then waited. She continued, “because my date, it seems, is bringing his own girlfriend.” So that was August (it was a lousy film by the way). We were engaged in November and married in February. This year we celebrated our forty-second wedding anniversary.
So the moral is - while you never know what fate has in store, always know how much you pay your cleaning lady.