It's a Guy Thing


In some pub in Farnham, Surrey in 1983 my life changed forever when I fell in love for the first time. I have only truly fallen in love three times in my entire life.

I clapped eyes on a shy-looking girl at a work reunion and she literally stole my heart. Although I had just joined the police and was meant to be comfortably assured, I couldn’t summon the confidence to even speak to her. I just didn’t want her to say no.

A few days later, with her firmly on my mind every waking hour of the day I called her at work. I recall having to practice my opening line repeatedly since I didn’t want to come across as some sort of weirdo. Even repetition didn’t excuse my clumsy ice breaker – “Hi Julie, it’s Ian, the guy who came to your work do. I was wearing the brown leather jacket.” There was a silence that seemed to last an eternity, broken by the news that she did remember me. I asked her out, she accepted, and my heartbeat recorded a new elevated status.

I often joked about her being a cheap date as she would always prefer a cup of coffee to alcohol, even when we went to the pub.

We dated for a while and one night in Mayrhofen, Austria two naive lovers went to bed and awoke much wiser.

She recognized her dream of becoming a nurse and we managed to practice our new skills in a single bed in the cramped nursing quarters. A cop and a nurse seemed the ideal match. I got on brilliantly with her parents, her older sister and younger brother who frequently asked me about my life in the police.

Then I fell in love for only the second time with my future wife, Theresa, and mother of Lucy and Adam, and I completed a task that I have never undertaken since. I told someone that I had previously fallen in love with that it was over.

Throughout the ensuing years I often thought about Julie and once or twice tried to locate her, without success, on social media. I guessed that she had married and moved on. When Ali G spoke about ‘Me Julie’ I smiled broadly and wondered how life had panned out for my Julie.

Thirty-six years later I met a guy in Aldershot, Hampshire with the same surname as Julie. He appeared to be slightly younger than me with a warm and caring personality. I so wanted him to be Julie’s brother. The circumstantial evidence was compelling – location, forename and surname, age, disposition, and occupation. He was in the medical profession too.

As before, I couldn’t muster the courage to ask but I knew I had to.

Excited I asked if he had a sister called Julie who once worked in the civil service in Farnham. He looked a little confused, then I immediately remembered that her time in this job was only temporary. “She was a nurse too!”

His reply altered my heartbeat again.

“I had a sister called Julie.”

The word ‘had’ hung in the air like the darkest of all dark matters. Please don’t be her brother. Please let this be another Julie.

Her brother did remember me – “You are the policeman!” From behind his mask, I figured that he was smiling since his previously sad eyes momentarily sparkled.

The punch to my stomach when he confirmed that he was my Julie’s brother was as real as if someone had physically struck me.

Julie married, had two children, later divorced and remarried, and died last year after developing breast cancer.

I don’t need to know where she rests, nor will I perform some symbolic lighting of a candle since she is still alive in my heart and her face will be forever etched in my mind.

I’m glad the shy guy in the leather flying jacket eventually made that call and equally thankful that the similarly coy girl said yes.

I just wish we could have had one more coffee together.

© Ian Kirke 2022 / @ianjkirke