Rob Gilroy

What a difference 10 years makes

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A lot can happen in a decade. Governments’ change, technology advances, the Beatles can form and split up; and that untouched tin of potatoes in minted water can go from nutritional side dish, to deadly congealed concoction.

Ten years is a long time.

It feels like a proper milestone; easy to compartmentalise when looking back. It’s lucky those ‘I Love the 80s’ shows choose to work in phases of ten years. Otherwise they’d have clunkier titles, like; ‘I Love 1974 through to 1986’ or ‘I Like a Non-specific Period of Nostalgia’. Stick to ten years – it’s easier to grasp.

I’m guessing that’s why hitting the ten year anniversary with my fiancée, Lucy, feels so huge. It’s not just ten years or a bunch of months – it’s an entire decade. Ten years ago this week, we were just a couple of crazy school kids in love. It was like something out of She’s All That, only I was the one with the glasses, ponytail and paint-smeared overalls.

Ours is not a romantic story, by any means, but it’s my favourite. At a party, high on life, love and cheap alcopops; I told Lucy how I felt. We spent the next two hours sat in the living room of our friend’s house, weighing up the pros and cons of engaging in such a torrid affair. Punctuated by interruptions from other party goers, and my friend’s parents trying to set the Sky+ box; we tried to evaluate the devastation that would be left should this blossoming romance turn sour. Eventually, we got tired and made out round the back of a marquee. Even today, I can’t look at a gazebo without welling up.

Ten years is a long time to love someone. And it is love. Despite others trying to suggest we were too young to know what we were doing; we knew it was love from the start. But even if you’d suggested that we’d still be together after a decade, I don’t know that I would have been able to comprehend it. And yet, here we are. It only took me ten years to ‘put a ring on it’. (Do you think Beyoncé works for jewellers on a commission-only basis?)

The only other this I’ve loved so completely for so long, is comedy. For the majority of my young life; comedy was my overwhelming obsession. Some people have music – dusting off their dad’s LPs and listening to old Harry Belafonte albums. Some have football; grass stains, grazed knees and all. Some have hard drink and strong drugs. I had comedy.

I would spend whole days just thinking about it. Trying to understand why certain sitcoms were brilliant, working out how to write the perfect sketch; contemplating which comedians to discover next; it consumed my every waking moment. Watching it, re-watching it, reading about it and writing it; comedy was everything to me. And then I met Lucy.

I wouldn’t say I love comedy less now, just that the tectonic plates of my heart have shifted slightly; but without the underlying subtext of a severe cardiac condition which that conjures up.

Thankfully, there’s never been a clash between my passion for comedy and being a fully paid-up member of a relationship. (We have membership cards and everything.) Lucy continues to be the funniest person I know; making me laugh in new and surprising ways every day. She remains my first port of call for writing feedback; offering razor sharp – sometimes damming – critiques of my work. Not only that, but she has a keen ear for funny lines and interesting characters – often pointing them out while some of us are trying to enjoy a romantic dinner – and, she won’t mind me telling you, she does a devastating impression of a drum roll.

Lucy continues to support and encourage me in my futile attempts to convert laughs into cash, all while having a proper job and life of her own. Kind, caring and unselfish; she is amazing, and it still astounds me that she’s stayed with me for so long. Ten years is a long time.

For me, ten years isn’t long enough.