The tale of Fred and the tatty swan

From Mark Wilkinson, 7-Dec-2005

Having split with my wife in the summer of 2005, I decided to lay low for a while and just be me. That didn't last for long and I took my life in my hands and put my profile up on Midsummer's Eve. I'd discovered the site quite by accident while typing the words "free dating" into a search engine. My profile was the usual "Hello, I'm 5ft 5 with greying hair and a beard" sort of thing. To my amazement I got absolutely no response whatsoever. Disheartened, I all but gave up on this "Internet dating" thing and concentrated on playing music in bands instead.
Time passed. Summer started to turn to Autumn.
Suddenly I had an idea. I dived back into Midsummer's Eve with gusto and totally rewrote my profile, this time with a deeply odd sense of humour. I posted it and waited for it to be kicked back by the lovely moderators as "unacceptable" but no.. it got published. Within hours I was inundated with a couple of replies - one of which curiously looked as if it had been typed on a mobile phone in textspeak. Oh, there were others.. women who enjoyed hangliding, shopping, horse-grooming and cross-stitch, but this little four-line message caught my eye.. "i cd nt stp lafng" I think it said. Apparently mobile phones don't have vowels.
I replied and me and the textspeak person got talking, this time with vowels included. We decided to meet up in her hometown of St. Albans. This was quite a trek for me as I lived in Peterborough at the time. I turned up and squeezed my car into the Maltings carpark. I got out of the carpark and met the lovely Avril. I didn't know it at the time but our lives were about to be turned upside down. She had the most gorgeous big brown eyes that got to me straight away.
So off we went, up and down the hills of St Albans and soon it became apparent that we were getting on like a house on fire. We had a beer then went off up to see the famous St Albans Roman wall fragment. We carefully ignored the little plaque that told us what it's official name was then started off towards yet another pub. Along the way, we saw a begraddled swan sitting on the edge of a lake.. "That's a tatty-looking swan" I said. "If it was a human being it'd be selling the big issue" I added a bit later..
Anyway, after another beer and a lovely afternoon doing the "getting to know you" thing, we ended the day by trying to remember what the name of the Roman Wall was. After much tooing, froing and laughing, we decided to call the wall "Fred" and it's been called that ever since to us. We stood outside the carpark and kissed.. We knew then what was going to happen and sure enough.. it did!
Right now, I'm living in St. Albans with Avril and her three kids and we're engaged to be married. Result or what. Avril and I love each other very very much and are looking forward to a happy and content future together thanks to Midsummer's Eve.

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