Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine memories by Sheila Claydon

At the end of my last post I promised to introduce you to Lady Sippington. Unfortunately she has proved to be a little shy and has begged me to keep her secret for a while longer. She will feature on the Books We Love blog eventually, however. Today, instead, I'll talk about something else and what better on 14 February than Valentine's Day because this year it is a very special day for me.

On 14 Feb 1965 my husband and I had our very first date, so Valentine's Day 2015 is the fiftieth anniversary of the first time we went out together. Now although I write contemporary romantic fiction I can't pretend that we are the most romantic couple. Valentine days have passed without us remembering. We've even managed to forget our wedding anniversary on more than one occasion, but I can still remember that first date as if it were yesterday.

I wore a Mary Quant little black dress (if you are as old as me you might remember her...very sixties) and a Mary Quant hairstyle of sharp bob and geometric fringe, and probably too much make-up. I really thought I was something. Fortunately my husband-to-be thought so too.  Also, somewhat shamefully, I was wearing a corsage of orchids that had been sent to me by someone else, but let's gloss over that.

My date, an older man by four years who actually owned a car, took me to a first. I don't suppose it was much more than a couple of smoke filled rooms and a bar that served little more than beer and soft drinks, but to me it felt like the most sophisticated date ever. I remember shuffling around a dance floor that was so crowded that actual dancing was impossible. Shortly before midnight, like Cinderella, it was time for him to take me home, but not before we enjoyed the ultimate in high cuisine...the bacon and egg sandwich with brown sauce which was the house speciality!

It didn't quite end there, however, because on the way home it started to snow. Of course we didn't think of the danger of driving in slippery conditions because at that age we were immortal, nor did we worry that the forty minute journey took almost two hours, but my mother did! She was waiting up for me and I can still 'see' the expression on her face when I opened the door. To say she was displeased is an understatement, especially as I was on a first date with someone she didn't know and he had delivered me home late.

Fortunately she wasn't someone to  hold a grudge and they eventually became firm friends. And in the words of Jane Eyre...reader...I married him...almost a year to the day after that first date. We have travelled a mile or two since then and are well past our sell by date now...but we still remember.

What about you?  What memories does Valentine's Day stir, and what about your first date with your partner? Do you still remember it?

Happy Valentine's Day.

First dates feature in quite a few of my books. You can find many of them at and all of them are available at  In Saving Katy Gray, Book 3 of my When Paths Meet trilogy, Katy's first date is not at all what she expected.