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How we met: ‘I proposed in the toilet queue at a festival – she said yes’

The first of a new series. Charlie Clark was mourning his father’s death when a friend took him to a gig. ‘I wasn’t in the mood for chatting up girls,’ he says

Charlie

Charlie Clark, 36, and Kerrie Clark, 34, are both graphic designers in Bristol. They met eight years ago at a gig and got married six months later.

Charlie Clark had a moment of realisation over the broken buckle of a sandal. He had met Kerrie – the shoe was hers – hours earlier at a gig and they were now going from bar to bar in Reading, drinking and talking. “I bent down to fix it, and I remember thinking: ‘Ah, I quite like taking care of you. I would quite like to take care of you for ever.” Did he fix Kerrie’s shoe? “Yeah, probably in a half-arsed way. I’ve been fixing things like that ever since.” Hopefully this isn’t true, as they are currently building a house, in which they will live with their three-year-old son.

Charlie had been taken to the gig by his friend Max – a small attempt to cheer him up after the death of his father. Although living in London, he was staying back at home in Reading with his mother. He noticed Kerrie and her friend Louise, and approached them “sort of on Max’s behalf because I wasn’t really in the right frame of mind to be chatting up girls”. It was Louise he started talking to. “Kerrie got pissed off and went outside to smoke a fag, because apparently guys always approach Louise,” he says.

Kerrie laughs. Is that true? “Yeah,” she says. “I had seen him come in and I thought, ‘I like the look of him,’ and then I could hear him talking while we were waiting for the band to come on and I thought, ‘He’s got a nice voice.’ But men would always approach Louise, so I thought: ‘Ugh, not another one – I’m off.’” But then she came back and Charlie was still there. “We talked until five in the morning,” she says.

A pair of lost spectacles – Charlie’s friend’s, misplaced somewhere on their bar crawl – scuppered any possibility of a one-night stand. “You always say,” says Charlie to Kerrie, smiling, half-embarrassed, “that if we’d have gone home together, because we were so drunk, it would have been terrible and awkward and we might not have carried on.”

Instead, they met up for Sunday lunch four days later. “We went to the pub,” says Kerrie, “and we’ve been together pretty much every moment since then.” There were none of the games that can sometimes happen with dating, says Charlie. Losing his dad had made him more willing to take chances. “I think there was a reminder of death, and the way I interpreted that was to try and live my life to the full,” he says.

Charlie and Kerrie.
Photograph: Kat Chartrand

He proposed less than three months later, in the queue for the toilets at a festival. “We got to the head of the queue and that’s when Kerrie said yes. I was like: what do I do now? Leave her and go to the toilet? So we both went in.”

Wait, they went to the same loo? It takes years of marriage to get to that level of intimacy, if you ever do. “The same loo,” confirms Charlie. People were banging on the door, “as they just assumed we were up to no good. I opened the door and said: ‘We’re not shagging – we’re getting married,’ and the whole queue went: ‘Yeah!’”

Did either of them have an inkling, that night they met, that they would end up together? “I just knew,” says Kerrie. “I know that sounds stupid. We got married after six months and I’ve always tried to explain why it happened so soon … It was just a feeling.”

Charlie says the sweetest thing next: after parting ways with Kerrie in the early hours, he went home and crawled into his mum’s bed “like I used to when I was a little kid”. He told her he had met a girl. “I was obviously still drunk and I said: ‘I think I’ve met the one.’”

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