9 February 2017
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we asked if you found love while studying at Bristol. From literally tying the knot to stolen handbags, here's what you told us...
Sarah Moreton (née Patterson) (BSc 1984) and Alastair Moreton (BSc 1984)
15th March 1983 (The Ides of March – I always remember that!) - it was the evening of the infamous GeogSoc three-legged pub crawl around Clifton. An assortment of fellow geographers all met in one of the student bars. The tying together of legs for the start of the three-legged adventure began. Most people had arrived in ready-made pairs, but I had been persuaded to come along on the basis that ‘there’s bound to be someone there without a partner’.
Sure enough, it soon transpired that some of the Clifton Hill House geographers had a friend who had been “stood up” by his expected partner and so it was that I was tied together with Alastair, a 2nd year Economics and Accountancy student. It was certainly a quick way to get to know someone – when you spend the whole evening drinking in ten Clifton pubs, tied together by the ankles!! We married in 1987 and will celebrate our 30th anniversary this year. Time we went back to Bristol for a drink to celebrate!
Michael Whitehead (MB ChB 1972) and Anne Rogers
On this day 49 years ago, we met at a Valentines dance in the new Nurse Training Unit at the BRI. One of my Medical student friends thought it would be fun to ‘borrow’ some handbags from the edge of the dance floor & send them off in the ‘Dumb Waiter’ in the hall. I first met Anne when a furious SRN demanded to know what had happened to her handbag. I managed to find it and asked her to dance. The rest they say is history… and I would never dream of touching her handbag now!!
Before anything else, we were lab partners, simply for the fact that our surnames were close alphabetically. The first experiment that we biologists carried out involved viewing a chicken embryo close-up through its membrane and seeing the heart beating – the lecturers told us that we would never forget this magical foray into real life sciences. As we bent our heads together to watch this tiny sight in quiet awe, magical it was, truly, right up until you dropped the chicken embryo smack onto the old wooden lab table surface.
What I will never forget is the look of sheer horror as you gripped the empty tweezers helplessly - simultaneously the most tragic and hilarious sight I have ever witnessed. It was at some point during our first of many shared laughing fits that I knew, or maybe hoped, that I had found someone special. This isn’t a story where we made declarations of love from the off, but after three years of friendship – both seeing other people on and off, whilst in the background not minding too much being at the butt of our friends’ ‘Discovery Channel’ jokes: “When are you two going to copulate?” – it wasn’t until the day we came back to Bristol to graduate that we decided to give it a go. Apparently a few weeks away from university was enough to bring it home that we might not see each other again unless we actually, finally, did something about it...
Now almost five years later, after everything else, I am so amazed and grateful to have found my life partner in the First Year lab. Thank goodness for seating plans!
Ann Phiri (BA 1960) and David Phiri (Dip Soc 1960)
I met David on his second day at the University. He was one of very few students from Northern Rhodesia to study for a diploma at a British university at that time. We shared a love of sports and both enjoyed MethSoc. David's lecturers soon realised that he was an outstanding student and helped him get funding and a place at Oxford. I wanted to stay near him so applied to Oxford for a postgraduate year.
But when I got a letter calling me for interview, I got cold feet. The brochure stated that only those expecting to get a First should apply, so I wrote to cancel the interview. Two weeks later, on a cold day, I slipped my hand into David's duffle coat pocket for warmth and my fingers found... the letter! He had neglected to post it (though he never admitted that it was a deliberate decision) but as the interview was a couple of days later, I decided to go and was given a place. We saw each other almost every day in Oxford for a year, where we realised that we were meant for each other.
We both went to live in N. Rhodesia, after getting married in 1964. David became a Director of Anglo-American, the MD of RCM (a group of copper mines in Zambia), Ambassador to Sweden, Governor of the Bank of Zambia, Chairman of several company and bank boards and in his spare time spearheaded the love of golf amongst Zambians, including the then President, Kenneth Kaunda, who had a golf course constructed in the grounds of State House. How did my love for David change my life? Africa became my home. I became a teacher, not a social worker. I married a black man. But more than those outward changes, I came to understand that people's hearts can be changed. Mine was. I learned to love African rhythms, so much more complex and heart-warming than most classical Western music, although I still adore classical music too. I learned to accept others as they are, without hasty judgment. I saw the infinite variety of human life. Although David died in January 2012, he still lives on in my heart.
Carolyn Childs (BA 1985) and Andrew J Fisher (BA 1985)
I met my partner on my first day at Bristol in the queue to register for the Faculty of Arts in the Wills building. In the first few days you talk to everyone. In discussion with others in the queue, I mentioned I hadn't yet met anyone else studying Russian. (This turned out not to be too surprising as in our year there were only 13 of us) A voice behind me in the queue piped up 'I'm studying Russian too' and there stood a six foot tall strawberry blonde. We then went to register at the Russian Department together. We were friends for three years before finally becoming a couple in our final year. 32 years on we are still together, have travelled the world and moved to Australia.
William Watt (BEng 1996) and Ms Jones
During a stormy night in La Roxa I met Ms Jones. We met again the following day at the top of the Cabot tower; it was a fabulous day. Unfortunately in a sliding doors scenario, the next day she moved to work in the Middle East. I've always wondered if there could have been more…
David Evans (BSc 1953, SST 1954) and Audrey Harry (née Meyrick) (BA 1955)
I first met Audrey at the Fresher's Ball and we gradually became quite close and spent much time together but drifted apart when she went To Europe for a term in her language course and I left in 1954. Apart from a brief exchange of letters we soon lost contact. I married in 1955 and Audrey married on the same date some 5 years later.
But in 2011 our paths unexpectedly crossed though a concert by the Horsham Symphony Orchestra in which Audrey had been both a violinist and ticket secretary. I had become a widower three years earlier and Audrey had become a widow the previous year. We met for coffee and soon our relationship reconnected 59 years after we first met in Bristol.
Before I left University Audrey told me that she could not marry me; years later she said she could. Curiously, neither time did I ask her! Ladies can change their mind but it does not usually take 57 years to do it... We have recently celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary.
Simon Cohen (BA 2006) and Marina Ehrlich (LLB 2007)
We first met at the Jewish Society's 2004 Freshers' Bagel Brunch but we barely spoke that day - my fault: I was too busy trying to impress someone else. I finally asked Marina out in November 2005. We went to a production at the Old Vic (neither of us can remember which). Here's the kicker: to my mind this was a date - but I fell asleep during the performance. Marina, it seems, thought this was just two acquaintances getting to know each other better. She claims not to have been interested in me that night - thinking me too immature and arrogant (probably right). I was so embarrassed by my slumber that, when I dropped her off at the end of the night, I didn't even try for a goodnight kiss (turns out I wouldn't have gotten one even if I had!).
We didn't speak or see each other again for almost three years until April 2009. I was having a birthday party and invited some friends via Facebook; it turns out that I (truly) accidently invited Marina as well and goodness knows why, but she came. The following week she reciprocated the invitation (our birthdays are one day after each other) and, at the end of the night, we found out that we were living less than 5 min walk away from each other.
We started seeing a lot of each other, but only as friends, since each of us was seeing other people. We saw each other so much that Marina's friends nicknamed me the "boyfriend without the benefits" (a fact I only found out much later!). It was clear that we had a lot in common, and had similar life goals and views, but it took us a while to realize that each of us felt more for the other than just friendship, and even longer for us to take the next step.
In September 2010, I was seconded to my firm's Paris office for six months; a few weeks later, I travelled to Scotland for a friend’s wedding and on the way back, missed my scheduled train to Paris. I took the opportunity of meeting with Marina that night… I took a number of opportunities that night and now six and a half years and one child later, we are stronger than ever and are due to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary in June.
Thank you to everyone who sent us their stories! Sorry we couldn't feature them all.
Did you find love at Bristol? Let us know: we'd love to hear from you for next year.