FIFTEEN years ago a wannabe reporter sailed through an interview at an evening paper in the Midlands.
I should have been there to grill the then BBC radio journalist. But I was on holiday. I must have been a bit nervous. What type of keen but potentially inexperienced new colleague would the editor foist upon us?
A week after I returned, I found out. The successful candidate phoned me. He hoped it would be a good idea to come along and say hello, perhaps I could give him a tour of the newsroom and help him find his way around a bit before he started.
I remember that call like it was yesterday, how lovely this new voice sounded, how quickly I agreed to his polite request and rather inexplicably, how much I was already looking forward to him turning up.
"I'd like to marry that man," I thought when he did.
Ridiculous isn't it? (Two children on, we aren't married yet!)
As he stood there, smiling, his blue-grey eyes twinkling and his immaculate suit making him look every inch a professional, I was knocked for six.
Beaming, I showed Neil round, introducing him to our colleagues. I remember thinking he could be my deputy, wouldn't that be great.
Days later he started work.
I wondered what on earth he must think of me as I asked him to write stuff, sent him out on jobs, or sometimes took him to task about some typo or confusing court reporting. If honest we all know this happened too often, sorry Darling. I wouldn't dare do anything to let him know how I felt as I started to day dream about meeting up after work.
If a group of us went out for a drink, I always tried my best to have a chat, wearing more make-up than I ever had before.
But soon I got another call with an offer I couldn't refuse.
Another editor wanted me to go and work for him, he'd pay well. Miles away, up North.
I agreed and a starting date was set.
It was at my leaving do that me and Neil got together.
Well I say got together, I jumped on him.
And I say, leaving do, but I wasn't allowed in after a few drinks in the pub. Club bouncers decided I was in no fit state.
Neil's car had broken down and he nearly hadn't made it, I was so nervous, I'd drank quite a bit, quite early on.
Neil offered to walk me home. So with a week before I was due to head off to my new job, I jumped on his lap on a park bench on the way home and told him how gorgeous he was. I'm not sure how much he understood. Too much vodka just possibly made me sound like I was talking in code.
And did I mention he was on calls? Neil was phoning the emergency services at regular intervals to see if there was anything to report for Monday's paper.
He also needed to ring me the next day to discuss these stories.
I got my apology in early. I was sorry for being too drunk to get into the leaving do, sorry he'd had to walk me home, sorry I was so pissed, sorry I'd jumped on him and sorry I'd gone on a bit.
And then it came.
"You don't have anything to be sorry about," he said.
I cannot tell you how I felt when I heard that. On top of the world comes close.
The kind souls in our office arranged a second leaving do.
That's when we became an item. Neil moved in with me for the few days before I was due to move.
As my new job turned into a nightmare, Neil was my rock. Truth be told I missed him too much.
My bosses weren't impressed.
"If you were anywhere near a professional you'd stay here at the weekend instead of shagging in Birmingham," they told me, among other things.
They may have had a point.
But we also managed to see each other in the week, even if it was a snatched hour here or there between a complicated train journey either way.
I hated my job but I knew I loved Neil.
And I have done ever since.