The engagement party of Paul Holland and Karina Medley took place, as every McDonald’s party seemed to, at Options nightclub, near Leamington station. Paul and Karina’s was, I am pretty sure, the first engagement party I had ever been to, as the only other engaged couple I knew had been engaged when I met them.
It was a typical McDonald’s night out for that time (albeit one which came nowhere near close to matching their stag and hen nights, which is another story entirely), consisting as it did of huge amounts of alcohol (despite Options’ annoying rule of serving only half pints), wild dancing and me completely failing to get off with Kath Douglas.
Kath had, as usual, brought her friend Lorraine to act as confidante and wingman. Nethertheless, I recall that I made sure that my seat was always next to or near them, if at all possible.
The tradition at the time (one so ingrained that it threw me when I went to university and the Students Union DJ didn’t do it) was for about 15 minutes of slow songs to end the evening. This allowed the couples (and wannabe couples) time to themselves as they slowly wobbled around the dancefloor in a controlled frenzy of priapic expectation.
Generally speaking, 15 minutes was equivalent to three slow dances. Two of these passed. Kath and I made small talk. The third started. Our eyes met. Nothing else happened.
At which point, something snapped. Not between us. Nothing was ever going to snap between us. Our workmate PK marched over and uttered the immortal words “Richard, do you want to dance with Kath? Kath, do you want to dance with Richard? Good, now get on with it”.
We moved slowly around the dance floor. All too soon the music stopped and the lights came up. We returned to our seats. I then went to speak to PK. The exchange went something like this:
“What are you doing here?”
“I just wanted to say…”
“I don’t care, go back to her you idiot”
I had my first ‘proper’ girlfriend. I suspect that only I and Adrian Mole could acquire one in such a completely inept fashion. The pattern for the rest of my life was set.