I kept a strong head. My usual stream of nonsense splurged out of my mouth for a few hours in Pizza Express, which seemed to keep the lady amused. For the record, by the end of the meal my belly contained tonne e fagioli, a Prince Carlo pizza, some Frascati Fontana Candida wine, and a chocolate bombe thingey.
I decided not to cause a stir in the restaurant by asking her there and then, as I couldn't handle the thought of it either turning out like in a cliched rom-com - other patrons cheering & clapping - or the exact opposite - total silence coupled with some funny looks.
So I suggested that we went for a walk in the snow. We played around in the old band-stand for what seemed an age, skidding in circles across the ice. We hugged on the bridge over the river to keep warm. We marvelled at the beauty of the snow-caked trees.
We talked about how happy we were, how perfect this all was. And I told her that there was just one thing that would make it more perfect... if she would agree to marry me. She looked excited, then concerned, and told me to say so right away if this was just a joke. I said, fumbling in my coat pocket, that I was deadly serious. BUT I COULDN'T FIND THE RING! Possibilities flashed through my mind... either it was left in Pizza Express or it was back at home, and how it wasn't meant to be like this, and what if I'd lost it - this was special, this was a family heirloom. But then, buried under a glove, I found it.
Down on one knee, not noticing the cold, I asked her if she would be my wife, and presented the box. She opened it, a beautiful look of joy and happiness etched across her face. A look that I will never forget. Beautiful and peaceful. She said yes, tears in her eyes.