It’s the day before our wedding anniversary and we’re in the back of a taxi, on our way to the hotel in Shoreditch where we spent our wedding night, to have drinks on the roof terrace. Outside, the torrential rain beats down on the car roof and we hope that this terrace has some sort of veranda.
“Are you celebrating anything special?” the taxi driver asks.
“It’s our first anniversary!” We beam, like we’re the only two people in the world to have been married a year.
We reminisce about this point in time exactly twelve months ago, me being driven across London by my dad, once again in the pouring rain, with trays of sandwiches on my lap and gypsophila taking up every other available space in the car. Rene was in the hotel room putting the finishing touches to his speech, unware that the heavens had opened up and descended on East London. We optimistically predict a scorcher for tomorrow, seeing as 23rd July last year felt like the hottest day of the year. Especially for Rene in a three piece tweed suit.
“Are you married?” Rene asks the driver. There is a bit of a pause, and we panic that he’s asked the wrong thing.
“Well, it’s a funny story actually…” the driver says.
David and Tina were childhood sweethearts. They met at school and were engaged at the tender age of 16. David spent £35 – a week’s wages – on a ring from Argos and proposed in an Italian restaurant on Edgware Road. She said yes, of course, and they were married in a church in Bow, East London, two years later.
They had three children together, two girls and a boy, but four years after they were married, they decided to go their separate ways. They divorced in their early twenties.
Both of them remarried and had more children. Tina had a boy and David had two girls. Their new relationships lasted for varying amounts of time but despite both being happy with their new partners, these relationships ended too.
Throughout the ups and downs, David and Tina stayed in touch in the interest of their children, and they were able to remain good friends. Tina often invited David to spend Christmas with them and he says that being part of the family never felt anything but normal. David has had various jobs over the years, but he never moved away from the East End, where all of his children still live.
A few years ago, out of the blue, David’s eldest daughter phoned him to share some news with her father.
“I think mum’s found her knight in shining armour,” she said.
“Oh right,” David replied. “Who’s that then?”
“It’s you, dad. I think mum is still in love with you.”
David and Tina met up shortly afterwards to discuss whether or not this was in fact true, and what on earth they were going to do about it. It turned out that not only was it true, but the feeling was mutual, and several months later, in August 2013, they invited friends and family to gather in that same East London church, and tied the knot for the second time. Some of the guests, though not many, had been present at the first wedding all those years ago.
When it came to buying new rings, David had asked Tina if she still had her original ones. She confessed that she couldn’t find them, but she was sure she hadn’t thrown them away. One day, for no particular reason, she happened to look under the sponge of what she thought was an empty jewellery box. There were her rings - the engagement ring that David had proposed with in that Italian restaurant, and her wedding ring - from twenty-two years before. Perhaps she always knew that she’d be needing them again.
I am wide eyed and slightly delirious in the back of the taxi as David relays all of this to us, and I think it might be the most amazing real-life love story I’ve ever heard. David is such a lovely man, the kind of taxi driver that would carry your nan’s shopping to her door and return your purse if he found it on the back seat, and I’m so happy that there is a happy ending to his story. But I have to ask:
“What did your children say when you got back together?!”
“Our youngest was one and a half when we split up, so he’d never known his mum and dad together. When we told him we were getting married again, he said, ‘Yuk! That’s disgusting!’”
I can’t help but feel that fate played a hand in letting us hear his story the day before our wedding anniversary. We never take taxis in London, but a combination of torrential rain and a £10 voucher for Addison Lee brought David to our door. This is a love story up there with the best of them. It reminds us all that things are always okay in the end.
If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.