During a recent conversation which examined the emotion known as 'love', I was reminded of an occasion when the future Princess Diana and Prince Charles - during a pre-wedding interview - were asked if they were in love and she answered, "of course", while he made his famous and telling reply, "Whatever love is."
Now, I have to confess that I fall into the same category as the prince - in that, even after over fifty years of marriage, I would still be hard pressed to accurately define the meaning of the word, 'love'. That said, however, I can describe my own experience of what might be described as 'falling in love' - and, in so doing, I should explain that, for several years, I believed the circumstances to have been so unusual that I didn't tell anyone (not even my wife). In recent times, however, I've reached an age when I don't give a **** if anyone believes me or not and I've disclosed what happened.
So far as I can remember, the fateful event occurred early the autumn of 1955.
My family had moved from Liverpool to The West Riding of Yorkshire and, whilst being shown around the area by a lad of around my own age who lived across the road from our new house, we ended up at a former chapel which had been converted into the quaintly-named social club, The Mechanic's Institute.
The dancing area was on the ground floor and the balcony (a common feature in non-conformist chapels) was where the bar was located. So, not entirely surprisingly, we headed upstairs and, having bought our drinks, we moved towards the edge of the balcony to look down at the dancers.
At this point in my explanation, I can't recall if what I'm about to describe happened as soon as I looked down or whether it took place during a later dance - but, what I can say is that my eyes were drawn towards a young girl who seemed (to me, at any rate) to be completely surrounded by what I can only describe as a milky-white cloud. So far as I am aware, I was the only person who could see this phenomenon - which I now realise is called an aura. I had never seen anything like it up to that point in my life; nor, have I seen anything like it since.
I was not - nor, have I ever been - what might be described as a 'spiritual' sort of person; however, the experience had a profound effect on me in that I took it as a 'message' of some sort and, within a relatively short period of time, we became what is nowadays known as an 'item', becoming engaged a couple of years later, and marrying in 1960.
Since then - and, for all I know, this might go some way toward explaining what 'love' is supposed to mean, each time I look at her, she looks just the same as she did when I first saw her all those years ago; but without the aura, of course.
In case anyone imagines I've gone all 'soppy' in my old age, I have to admit that, although she looks just as pretty, it's difficult to deny that there are occasions when she sounds a little louder that she did when we first met.