And so here it is, the tale of how I surprised TDT with a ring on Monday.
We'd left at a fairly normal time Monday morning. Being a bank holiday it was quite quiet on the roads, and we took the gentle stroll down to the station to catch the train up to the big smoke.
We were walking through Victoria when I got a text. "Good Luck for today. We're all thinking of you. Carl & Emma."
"Who was that?" asked TDT.
"Just Carl," I replied, "Telling us to have a good day in London."
"That's strange. Why would Carl do that?" she then enquired.
"No idea," I said with a shrug.
We had planned on getting an open topped touristy bus trip around London, and needed to get the tickets, so we had to head over to their office first. Whilst there I found out the bus takes about 2 hours and I knew that I needed to be Westminster by 1:30. It was already gone 11:30, so we abandoned the bus, deciding it would be better to wait until later in the day. I'd told her that I had a surprise for her, but didn't say what. So she didn't ask (more fool her!). Whilst we sat there, watching the foreigners oohing over Trafalgar Square, she asked about the London Eye.
"What is it? Anto was going on it. Is it a boat or bus or something?"
"Are you kidding? You haven't heard of the London Eye?" I said, somewhat surprised. Bearing in mind, I had a booking in my pocket, this was the perfect time to spring it on her.
"Would you like to go on it then? Because that's lucky. I have it booked for 2pm."
"Oh good" she said with a smile. "Is that why you're being so cagey?"
"Yes. Yes it is," I said, lying.
We got the bus to the old County Hall, and she got her first sight.
"Oh. It looks just like a big ferris wheel," she said somewhat disappointed.
"Well yes. I suppose it is. But it's cool anyway."
"Good Lord sir, you don't need to queue. You need to go straight into the booking hall, and at one end follow the signs for the Priority bookings."
So, I headed over to TDT and said "We have to go somewhere else. We're VIPs."
"Oooh, I like being a VIP" she said, jokingly. Oh, if only she knew.
We arrived at the wrong desk again, and again we were directed to the desk reminiscent of the First class lounge at Heathrow Airport. A young girl surrounded by bottles of Champagne took my booking, checked my ID etc and told us to be back by 1:45. As we walked away, TDT mentioned the champers. "I haven't had a glass of champagne for a while." I didn't say much more.
As we returned to the collection point, a small group of 9 others were waiting as well. Our host would escort us through the queue and straight onto the wheel. Obviously this is a target for terrorists, so security was tight. Much to my horror, they were checking people's pockets and bags, and I meanwhile had a diamond ring in my jacket pocket. Luckily TDT went through first, then John second, so he sort of kept her occupied whilst they asked me "Do you have anything sharp hidden upon your person?"
"Only a diamond engagement ring." I replied, looking the security guard in the eye and winking.
"Oh, ok sir. Good luck," he said, returning the wink.
Now I have to point something else out at this point. For the past 14 years I have had problems with heights, and the London Eye is not the place to go if you have this affliction. But, strangely enough, I've noticed in the past few months the fear has gone. I hatched the plan knowing that TDT would assume I was nervous because of the heights. I would also milk it a little. So when we got on, I really was starting to crumble. Just as we got into the pod, what had been a chilly and cloudy day suddenly became warm. The sun came out for the first time that day, as if someone was watching down on us and giving their blessing. I was standing on my own, taking pictures to take my mind off the impending question. Our host was stood alongside me. I pointed out where we were staying etc, and then pointed at my ring finger then at TDT.
"Oh congratulations," he said.
I shook my head vehemently, then point to the floor. The realisation I was about to propose crossed his face.
"What, now?" he said. I nodded. TDT's back was to us, so he asked if he could help.
"Just let me know when we're at the top," I whispered.
"Would you like me to let everyone know that you have something to ask her?"
"Yes, that'll be great."
"Ok, what's your names?" he then asked.
"Rik and Tania" I replied.
"Ok, Mr. Rik. Consider it done."
As we got closer to the 400ft top of the wheel, my stomach was doing it's best washing machine impression. I could see the next pod was slightly higher than us, but the one behind was the same height, so I knew it would be any second. And then it happened.
"Ladies and Gentleman, we're now at the top of the wheel, and I believe Mr. Rik wants to ask Tania something."
Fighting the tears back, I wobbled out "Tania, would you do the honour of marrying me?" and handed her the ring. The whole pod cheered and clapped, and predictably TDT and I burst into tears and she let out the biggest grin.
"yes. Yes. YES" she replied, and everyone again burst out laughing.
We got a few more photos taken, and people came and congratulated us. One girl (the one on the left in the picture) came and said "would you like me to email you the pictures I took?" so both of us tried to regain our composure to type TDT's email address (it's shorter than mine) into the girl's iPhone. Another couple (also in the picture) came up and congratulated us. The guy said "It's funny actually. When I saw you waiting back for the host, I said to my girlfriend that you looked really nervous. Now I know why."
We got off and went to sit in a quiet corner so TDT could phone her mum. I'd phoned a few weeks before to ask her permission, so she was expecting the call.
"Rik's just asked me to marry him, and I've accepted."
"Yes. I know."
"What do you mean you know?" she asks, glaring at me.
"He told me all about it when he phoned me a few weeks ago."
"You mean you knew? Did you tell anyone? Does Ian know?"
"No. Rik made me promise not to tell anyone, so I didn't utter a word to a soul."
After the call, we needed a drink. The tears of happiness were dehydrating us, and there was a nice pub nearby. We got a drink, then did the honours of phoning family to let them know what had happened. I phoned my Dad, she phoned hers and her brother. I let facebook know, and so did she. We sat there for 2 hours, like a couple of loons. One minute we'd be laughing, the next shedding a tear, the next laughing again.
"So who knows about this?" she asked.
"Everyone." I replied.
"Everyone? How come."
"I blogged it. It was scheduled to appear at 2pm today, when we were on the wheel. I also left my status on facebook, telling everyone, especially the Irish crew to check out the blog at 2. You can be sure they all know."
Suddenly realisation crossed her face. "Is this why I wasn't allowed to go on it this morning?"
"Yes. Good innit!" I said with a devilish grin.
"How long have you been planning this?" she asked.
"Months. I didn't know how well it would go to plan, but it was close in the end."
"How many others know?"
"Oh, everyone back home knows. I couldn't risk someone else letting you know over there, so I had to keep it quiet. But they all know now."
Another penny dropped.
"Is that why Carl texted you this morning?"
I nodded, and showed her the text. She then started to realise that it had been planned from the start of the day, and had been regarded an almost military operation. Then she started to cry again. And laugh.
"God I love you," she said.
"I love you too," I replied smiling, "oh fiancé of mine..."
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