Saturday, 15 March 2014

Falling Down a Mountain

Falling Down a Mountain

Back when I was twelve, I went on a school ski-trip that I didn’t particularly enjoy. A few weeks before that trip, we were taken to a dry ski-slope to practice and I wound up getting my skis caught up and intertwined with each other, forcing me into what I can only describe as a spectacular somersault type deal, the end result of which was a broken left thumb. It was completely shattered.

So I went on the trip and froze up - and I don’t mean because of the weather! I couldn't do it. In my head I was picturing more broken bones and falling my death. I hated the very idea of it. I know now that it’s all psychological, but that’s a pretty tough hurdle to jump over. It also didn’t help that on there were two ski-trips that year running simultaneously and that all of my friends were off on the other one, and the fact that the hostel were staying in was so cheap that the food they served up tasted like excrement and on one night still had veins running through it. Half the guys on the trip wound up with food poisoning. And to add to all of this, we travelled to and from this little holiday to Austria via 24 hour bus rides.

It may sound like I’m moaning and whining and complaining and bitching, but the fact is that I hated that week. I just didn’t enjoy it and with that in mind I was quite content to never go skiing again. Ever.

So they announce a competition to go skiing at work in which we were all split into categories depending on the type of function we perform at work with the top dog in each category earning a spot. Having not earned a spot on any previous trips with work, I was quite comfortable in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be going on this one…. And then business picked up for Scotty, Paul and me. I wound up in the hunt and proved victorious thanks to the opportunity provided to me by my IQAT brothers. Here we go again.

I got ready and was genuinely excited about giving it another shot. Sure, I was nervous too and I think that showed and some believed me to not be happy about the trip. A week before the trip, a real sense of deja vu struck as I nearly broke my thumb (this time the right one) while kickboxing. Thankfully it was was just sprained and although it caused me some problems on the trip when it came to slipping those skiing gloves on and off, it was fine. If anything, it actually helped my psyche in terms of helping me to realise that if freak accidents and broken bones can occur in a sport that I practice every single week, then surely skiing’s not so bad afterall...

I think it’s safe to say that this ski-trip was the complete and total opposite end of the spectrum from my school trip. We flew out to to Geneva and were then driven two hours to Meribel in the French Alps. We were put up in a lovely chalet that would certainly have been out of a school’s price range, complete with a hostess and a chef to look after us. Three course dinners every night, cooked breakfast with fresh croissants in the mornings, cheeses and french sticks, and all that we could drink. It was pretty freaking sweet.
And there was this apres ski in which some people got naked… I don’t think ‘sweet’ is so much the word to describe that one; it’s more like ‘sweat’.

When it came to the actual skiing, I did a lot better than I expected. I wouldn’t say it was good, but it was better than when I was twelve. We had access to an instructor; an Italian names Marco who sounded like Borat and was always taking about having sex with his girlfriend. He loved women, but he hated teaching them. There were four of us who opted to take up the lessons with Marco. The one girl in the group did not get on well - she gave it a go but it just wasn’t for her. The other two guys did a lot better than me and on the third day went off with some of the more experienced members of our crew. I then wound up with one-to-one tuition and took advantage of being able to decide that we only go down green runs. The prior couple of days had seen my confidence rise and fall like a rollercoaster and one of the guys has video footage of me throwing a right old tantrum on one of the blue slopes after having fallen over for the umpteenth time that day. Towards the end of the trip, I was owning the green runs with the help and guidance of Marco, managing to keep my skis in parallel.

All in all it was a sweaty and tiring experience that left my shins screaming at me to never slip on a pair of ski boots ever again - those mother fuckers kill your legs! I enjoyed it a hell of a lot more than my previous skiing experience, but I feel that my skiing days are behind me once more. With that now said, what are the odds this all happens again?

Wednesday, 1 January 2014


A year of change, yet a year when things remained the same. A year of adventure and of the familiar. A year that rose to topple all of those that came before it. The year of Wormwood, the year of thirteen. 13 is my new lucky number.

This has been my year in so many ways. I’m struggling to find a way to really convey this in words, but so much has happened that won’t be replicated again in any other year. I may have better years to come, of that I hope, but for now I’ve never been in a better place than this.

2012? Nah, this has been the year of sports

Twenty-twelve may have brought the Olympics to London, and I had tickets to a part of that, but for me, twenty-thirteen has been the year of sport.

It began on New Years when in a tired, slightly drunken stupor, I decided that I needed to try something new and something active. I figured that there must be a kickboxing club somewhere nearby and so googled it on New Year’s Day. Turns out there was a club once a week right around the corner. The first Sunday of the year, I joined and have not stopped since. Here we are a year, a red, yellow and orange belt later and now train two-to-three times a week and love it. I’ve got some new friends and can take a punch. I’m more flexible than ever and look forward to getting even better and healthier in the process.
Stacey joined me for the first lesson, and never came again. Poppy of all people has gotten into it though and packs a mean punch!

In terms of live sporting events, I don’t think I’ll ever have a year as good as this. It started on the last week of January when TNA brought Impact Wrestling to Wembley Arena. We were treated to a double taping in which I can say featured Hulk Hogan’s last match to date - even if he did get “beaten up” before the match and therefore didn’t actually “compete”. I’m still saying that I’ve seen a Hulk Hogan match live.
That night I even went out after I got home and joined a night of drama in progress… but that’s not my story to tell.

The biggest sporting event of the year in my opinion took place in April in New York/New Jersey this year, and I was there for it. Wrestlemania 29 set the record for the highest grossing wrestling event of all time and I was part of it with Stacey and my old friends the Passeys and Major. Positioned right next to the awesome set that had been built to replicate New York’s iconic skyline, Stacey and I were right at the heart of the action which included what in my opinion is the match of the year between CM Punk and The Undertaker, a performance from P. Diddy, The debuts of Fandango and Big E. Langston, as well as what is looking very likely to have been The Rock’s last ever match in losing the WWE title to John Cena, who set the record for most title wins that night. Even if the travel back to Manhattan was atrocious, nothing can ruin my memories of that night. And in no way did I think that Wrestlemania could be at all contended with for event of the year, but then Stacey, Adam, Passeys, Major and I got tickets for a WWE Live event in November at The O2….
Due to the fact that WWE had built a new live show stage that would have been blocking our seats, we were given a free ticket upgrade and were shown to our new seats on the arena floor. We walked right by the ring, around the ringside area and found our seats for the evening which were situated right by the entrance stage. We didn’t spend much time in our seats, much to the chagrin of The O2 staff, but Stacey got a high five off of Daniel Bryan.

I also visited Wembley Stadium and got to experience all of the travel woes that come with that five times this year (although my trip to Metlife Stadium in April gave me an appreciation of the tube service, no matter how arduous that can be). In June, Stacey and I went to see The Killers play a gig at the famous stadium, but the other four events that I saw take place under the arch were all sporting events. The first two took place in May, as on the first weekend of the month, we took what was essentially a work trip as colleague of mine and Tunbridge Wells FC manager Martin Larkin took his side to the final of the FA Vase against Spennymoor. The company treated us to comfy padded seating in the Bobby Moore suite and although the Wells suffered a 2-1 defeat, it was a tremendous effort and hard fought match that saw the stadium erupt when they scored their equaliser.
Just over four weeks later, I was back at Wembley with the men of my family as Crystal Palace made it into the play-off finals. The Eagles delivered as they always seem to in this situation and after a scoring on a penalty, Palace are up in the Premiership for at least a season.
An NFL season ticket with the Hammonds saw me return to Wembley twice more on the last weekends of September and October. The September game featured the Pittsburgh Steelers facing the “home” side for the evening, The Minnesota Vikings in what was easily the best match we’ve ever had take place at Wembley. Everything from the razmataz surrounding the pre-game entertainment, to the competitive nature of the game itself between these two ground-and-pound teams set the bar high for all future NFL games in the UK. A month later, the one-sided game between the 49ers and the Jaguars couldn’t top it, but will remain a significant night in my life, as I asked Stacey’s Dad for permission to ask her a particular question the following weekend… a story that’s already been told to death, but really made this year so special.

The Soundtrack of My Year

One of this year’s Wrestlemania themes - the one that suits my tastes the most - and the song that transports me back to New York every time that I hear it. Not only did snippets of this song play out constantly during the event in Metlife Stadium, but I was listening to this awesome tune a lot around this point in time, even setting it as our alarm to wake Stacey and I up on Friday 5th April - the day that we flew out on our holiday of a lifetime. Whenever the first few chords of this song now play, I immediately visualise the leafless trees of Central Park, tall skyscrapers and yellow cabs.

Another of this year’s ‘Mania themes, and yes it is a few years old and sure it’s not to my usual musical tastes, but I do like this song. It makes my soundtrack of the year due to the fact that P. Diddy himself was there to perform the track live at Metlife Stadium.

If Bones is the song that takes me back to New York City, then Kickstart My Heart transports me across the Atlantic Ocean and back to my time in Orlando. It was on the Rock-It Rollercoaster in Universal Studios that I discovered this old gem. The ride allows you to select your song for the duration of the coaster, and while on a couple of rides I chose other tracks such as Limp Bizkit’s rather apt Rollin’ or Evanescence’s Bring Me To Life, it was this track that really made the ride for me with the build of the guitar riff as I climbed the first big drop, to the high octane speed of the chorus that took me over loop-de-loops.

The first of three Fozzy songs that will appear on this list, She’s My Addiction is from their latest album Sin and Bones and is one of the catchiest rock tunes I’ve heard in years. This song would have made this list no matter what, however it’s place is cemented by the fact that it earned me a retweet from Chris Jericho when I twittered my joy for this musical feast for the ears.

An old favourite that I rediscovered this year. This song is actually ten years old now and was one that I used to listen to back in my early teenage years, around 2003. Earlier in the Summer of this year, I heard another song which I think was Trapt’s Headstrong, that I also used to listen to regularly a decade previously and for some reason it reminded me of Remedy.

Dexter’s run on TV finished this year and while some may have disliked the ending, fact is it was never going to please everybody, whichever way things went down. I personally enjoyed the over-the-top finish to what has been my favourite show of the last ten years and will certainly miss my annual fix of the Dark Defender… Getting back on track, this track by Fozzy is another pretty catchy rock song and I would assume is based on Dexter due to the title and Chris Jericho’s known love of the show.

Just a wicked song that always gets me pumped up and ready for a night out. For some reason Disturbed remind me of a heavy Phil Collins with this one; I can just hear Collins in my mind singing to this kind of tune…

I got back into Staind this year, re-listening to a lot of their older stuff from 14 Shades of Grey and Breaking The Cycle. While I’ve probably listened to some of these old greats, such as So Far Away, Price to Play, Outside, and It’s Been a While more, their much newer The Way I Am will hold the most significance to me in 2013 as it was the song I had playing in the background as I wrote the final words to the first draft of my first full-length novel. It was a real ‘end credits’ moment for me with the perfect song to go with it. The lyrics even fit the subject matter of the novel to an extent.

The current Smackdown theme tune which guarantees I’ve heard it at least once every week this year. Great tune that encompasses both rock and rap in the best way.

Ozzy and Co. made a triumphant return this year with their album 13. Music fans rejoiced as the album went straight to number one, proving that those with real musical taste don’t have an affect on the singles chart as we’ve gone and bought the bloody album. This first track from the album is easily the best song from the album and I was pleasantly surprised to hear it play at the end of the Seth Rogen comedy This Is The End.

Not much to say on this one. It’s a late entry to the list having just come out, but I’m really enjoying Korn’s recent revival.

This song is about four years old now, and I’ve owned the album that houses it - Chasing The Grail - the entire time. It just took me three years to actually take the time to stop and listen to this incredible track. There is a reason that I didn’t tend to listen to this one and that is that Wormwood sits at the end of the album and is just shy of fifteen minutes long. For whatever reason, I just never had the patience, nor took the time to stop and listen. So it was quite a treat back on a Saturday morning in January when I put my iPod on while still lying in bed and this came on. I can’t recommend this song enough and it has essentially become the theme tune to my 2013, which is quite fitting for the whole ‘13-end-of-the-world stuff we might have encountered a year ago as Wormwood tells the story of the apocalypse and climaxes in the tremendous array of musical noise that even Stacey, who usually hates this kind of music, admits to enjoying.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The year has been a lot of fun and a lot of good has happened. But we all had a bit of a curve-ball thrown at us in the days leading into Christmas. The weekend before we had blustery gales and heavy rain - some of which decided to leak into our flat. The poor weather continued and resulted in floods on Christmas Eve. We wound up ‘abandoning ship’ on the Night Before Christmas and had to wade through the river that is usually our road, in our wellies, carrying as much as we could in terms of Christmas presents and clothes. We had to move back in with my parents for the night which was particularly exciting on that night of nights.
And on Boxing day, with our building’s lift no longer functioning, I had to lug six sandbags up the three flights of stairs to make sure that no more water blew into our third floor flat!

Unfortunately, we know some that were affected by the floods and terrible weather much worse than we were.


Between the fun of the snow at the beginning of the year, to the floods we’ve just experienced at Christmas; from Metlife Stadium to Wembley; from Universal to Disney; from finishing the first draft of a novel to finishing the greatest story of my life to date by getting down on one knee, it’s been a hell of a year. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2014 has in store and I know it’s going to end with a bang!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

How I Got Engaged

Yesterday I finally manned up and popped the question to Stacey. This is the story of how I did it, and it goes all the way back to somewhere last year, at a time when we were looking forward to our dream holiday to New York and Florida.
Somewhere along the line last year, the idea of proposing to Stacey in America came into my head. Unfortunately it was an idea that had occurred to plenty of other people too, as I can’t even think of a rough estimate of how many people asked me in the build up to that holiday ‘Are you going to propose in New York?’. To make matters worse, some people - my brothers included - thought they’d ask Stacey if she thought that we’d get engaged in The States.
No, America was definitely out of the question.

How I Met Your Mother The Fruit Fairy

At the beginning of the year we got into watching How I Met Your Mother. It had been on TV in the evenings around the time Stacey got home from work. For those of you reading this that have never seen it, the show is an American sitcom set in the current day, but narrated by a future version of the lead character Ted, as he tells his kids the story of (you guessed it?) how he met their mother.

Stacey bought the first few boxsets and we started watching the series from the beginning. Not too far in, there was an episode in which Ted wakes up hungover  and lying next to a girl who’s unconscious and face-down. The whole episode is based around trying to figure out who he wound up with the night before, before the mystery girl wakes up. Although that’s the main plotline of that story, it’s the silly subplot of that episode that proved important to this story.
In the episode, Ted wakes up next to this mystery girl, but then next to him on the other side, on his bedside table was a pineapple. While most of the characters spend the episode trying to figure out who the girl is, Marshall keeps asking the more interesting question of ‘But what’s with the pineapple and where did it come from?’ - No answer is ever given; it was just there…

Inspired, the following Friday night I stopped by Morrisons on the way home from work - or rather: post-work drinks - and picked up a pineapple, keeping it hidden when I got home. The next morning, Stacey awoke to a pineapple on her bedside table, and I awoke as she threw it in all its spikiness at my sleeping face! A running joke was born, as was ‘The Fruit Fairy’ because of course it wasn’t me that put the pineapple there.
From then on, Stacey awoke every Saturday morning to a new piece of fruit: pineapples; coconuts; pink grapefruits; red grapefruits; white grapefruits; kiwis; apples; raisins (on a lazy week); strawberries; cherries; a tomato (another lazy week); oranges; pomegranate (a suggestion from our friend Becky that didn’t go down well); grapes; an onion squash; a pumpkin; melons; and several repeats of the above. I’m probably forgetting a few, but you get the point. One week The Fruit Fairy even brought a lime… along with a four-pack of San Miguels during the middle of the Summer.

The Fruit Fairy took a couple of weeks off during our trip to America in April; something about not being able to cross the Atlantic.

From there the seeds were sown (get it? seeds... fruit?) for an idea. I knew that if I were to ever pop the question, that Stacey would hate for it to be in a public place, and being the sleepaholic that she is - requiring anything between eight and fourteen hours of sleep a night - what better time and place could there be than when she awoke fully rested and warm and comfy in her favourite place in the world?

Psychobabble and Lies - Throwing her off the scent

Speaking of American sitcoms, ever see the episode of Friends where Chandler decides to let Monica think that he totally dead-set against marriage? If he’d kept that up for a year or two, he’d have been in my league.

I’ve always known that one day I’d like to get married, and for years I’ve know to whom it would be… but she didn’t need to know that. I wanted it to be the surprise that it was. Over the course of the last couple of years, I’ve made sure to make it clear to Stacey and to anyone else when Stacey is nearby that I was completely anti the idea of getting married. We’d have people over for dinner who’d mention it and I would brush it off. In America when we met Tam, she said that she believed that a couple should get married if they had kids and I found an opportunity to have an argument about how the whole idea of a wedding and marriage was pointless and outdated… all for Stacey’s benefit.

I was never obvious, but over the course of a long while I subtly etched the thought into Stacey’s mind that it was never going to be something that we’d do. While many of you reading this are probably thinking of me as some sort of genius, which I kind of am, this did all lead to a panic on my end a week before the question was asked. We were watching that new Karl Pilkington show and the first one was about marriage. Karl was going on about how he just didn’t get the idea behind it and that it was a pointless concept. I turned to Stacey and she was nodding in agreement, then turned to me and said: ‘I think I agree with him.’ which was not what I wanted to hear, knowing that an engagement ring was currently hidden in the depths of my bedside table.
After everything had gone down yesterday, I asked Stacey about that, about how she had agreed with Karl Pilkington to which she replied that she was only saying all that stuff because that was how she thought I felt about it all. I had done a good job of it all, but almost too good of job.

The Ring

Although I had planned out how to do things with The Fruit Fairy and whatnot, I was quite happy to wait until I felt that the time was right. Well just over three weeks ago, on a Friday lunchtime I was wandering around and as I passed a jewellers near to my work, something caught my eye. It was a ring of white gold with a bright blue diamond that was surrounded by little sparkly bits. I stopped for a look, scanned the other rings in the window and knew in the back of my mind that that was it. The ring.

I put off buying it for a few days, although I did pop into the jewellers to enquire and to take a closer look at the ring.
I went back to the office that lunchtime and found Southern Bantamweight MMA Champion Paul Bentley alone on our desk, so I quickly asked him for his thoughts. The champion cage fighter helped to confirm for me that I should definitely go for it if it was what I wanted. I just needed to hear it from someone else as in my head it was all subjective and a little scary. Who better to get a pep-talk from than the champ?
I asked Paul to keep it quiet and to not tell anyone in the office (even you Scotty. Sorry but you’re a bit of a gossip). Paul kept his promise although there was a funny moment the day after I bought the ring where I left my computer at work unlocked when I went to the loo, and when I came back Scott made a joke about sending an email to Stacey asking to her to get married. Later that day at hometime, Paul stopped to let me know that the whole thing was just a huge coincidence and that he hadn’t said a word to Scott. He then asked if I wanted him to come with me to buy the ring, as I had said that I might ask him to, but I had bought it the previous day at that point and when I told him, Paul became the first person to shake my hand and offer his congratulations.

It was on the Thursday after I’d first seen the ring that I went out at lunchtime again to buy the ring. I peered into the windows of a couple of other jewellers on the way just to see what they had to offer, but nothing stood out. And really, I knew that this was the ring that Stacey would say yes to and would wear for the rest of her life. I had stolen one of her rings from home that morning, took it into the shop to compare sizes and bought the ring there and then, taking it home as there was only half a size difference in it. The jeweller agreed that it the ring was rather unique and little bit different. I was in the shop for no more than a few minutes and it just felt like any old transaction. On the walk back to the office though, I got the butterflies a bit.

Timing is Everything

Last weekend was the eighth anniversary of when sixteen year old me first asked Stacey out. That seemed like a good day to do it, but I had tickets to go the the NFL match at Wembley with her dad and brother, so I didn’t much like the idea of asking the question then leaving her alone for the day. I knew that I wanted to do it on a Saturday so that we could then enjoy the whole weekend, but doing it last week wouldn’t have worked for two reasons: Firstly, last Saturday night we went to an engagement party for a couple of friends, Kim and Jason (congratulations to you two again, if you’re reading this). It would have been a bit weird for us to spend the evening we got engaged celebrating someone else’s engagement and that night was theirs. The other reason that I wanted to it off for a week was because I wanted to do the traditional thing of asking her dad first, and what better time or place could there be than on the eighth anniversary of the day I asked Stacey out, at Wembley Stadium as his team - the San Francisco 49ers - trounced the competition (or lack of), the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Stacey’s brother went to the toilet or to get another beer, and I had an opening. It had seemed like such a simple thing to do, but I became suddenly nervous. I assumed that the if there had ever been any objection, that it would have come up at some point in the prior eight years. But still, I nearly bottled it. After a few minutes I did finally pluck up the courage and asked. It all went well and David was very happy, as was I. The 49ers went on to win 42-10.

Putting The Plan Into Action

The week that followed was long. Really long and filled with wedding references. It was a struggle. And then I found out that the women in Stacey’s family were out for a meal on Saturday night and that her sister was staying with us from Thursday till Sunday. I thought about putting it off another week, but soon realised that it would be all the better as she would have her sister to go and tell right away, and would then be able to celebrate at their meal that evening. I had already arranged to meet up with Stacey after her meal that night as I made sure that a few of our friends would be going out.

By complete coincidence, we met the mother in How I Met Your Mother during the week too, getting to the end of our boxsets. Some things you just can’t plan, and work out nicely like that.

And so on Friday night I stopped off to pick up a pineapple on the way home from work, to round things out nicely. I wrote a note as The Fruit Fairy; ‘He has something to ask you...’ it said. Then when Stacey was asleep I quietly retrieved the ring, the note and pineapple from my bedside table and crept around to Stacey’s side of the bed. I placed them all on her bedside table as she slept, facing towards it all. I then crept back and climbed into bed and thankfully was able to get to sleep easier than I thought I would thanks to the fact that I had had a lack of sleep the night before thanks to my parents - although I was annoyed at you two at the time, you really did me a bit of a favour after all.

I slept through till five that morning, at which point I awoke in desperate need of the toilet, I lay there frozen for a few minutes, wondering whether it would be best to just try to go back to sleep instead of risking Stacey waking. A vision went through my mind of Stacey being woken by the sound of a flushing toilet and then finding the ring. Not exactly romantic.
But I needed a wee so badly, worse than I’ve ever needed one before due to the fact that it became all I could think of. So I risked it and went. And she didn't wake up. And I got back into bed and had three hours of very broken, nervous sleep.

It was at about eight in the morning that Stacey woke up, and as she shifted around, I too came to as I was sleeping very lightly by this point. She rolled over, gave me a cuddle while my heart pounded relentlessly, and then announced that she needed the loo as I had done a few hours before. This was going to be it, she’d see it now I was sure. She rolled over and climbed out bed.
‘Oh, a pineapple!’ she said as she walked off out of the room.
She’d missed it! My heart nearly burst through my chest. I couldn't believe it and looked up to check that the ring and the note were still there. They were and she had just missed them, but I spotted that I had put the note down the wrong way up in the dark the night before, so that the writing was upside down as you looked down on it from the bed. I took the opportunity to flip the note and waited.

Stacey came back in the room, climbed back into bed and asked, ‘So is this the end of The Fruit Fairy?’She knows; she did see it… I thought. ‘What do you mean?’ I asked back.
‘Because we finished
How I Met Your Mother this week and you’ve gone back to the pineapple. Is this your way of bringing it full circle and finishing it?’
‘Look again.’ I told her and as she rolled over to have a look, I got up and out of bed, slowly making my way around the bed.
She still missed the note, but she picked up the box and opened it up to see the ring. Meanwhile, as I was halfway round I told her to brace her as had a confession to make: ‘I am The Fruit Fairy!’ - Stacey played her part well and gave me a faux gasp.
I made my way round to her side of the bed.
‘This is a nice present, thank you.’ said Stacey.
I got down on one knee and took the ring from her hands. After a brief pause, I asked that fateful question that changes everything.
She nodded, said ‘Yes!’ with a big smile on her pretty little face and practically jumped out of the bed onto me.

The Aftermath

We waited until late afternoon before allowing the twenty-first century to catch up to us by putting the news out on Facebook. Firstly we wanted to make sure we had the chance to tell all of our family and a few friends.

Some of the reactions to the news have been pretty entertaining. We’ve had everything from excitement and screams to shocked expressions of ‘No’ and a few tears. It was a weird, strange, bizarre day that followed and we did of course have a few people questioning whether it was a hoax before offering their congratulations and a couple of people assumed that our ‘big news’ was going to be that Stacey was pregnant, to which I replied, ‘No, the other thing.’

We even had the diamond in the ring verified by a witch at Bodiam Castle. If it had proven the jewel to be fake, I threatened to jump out of the window into the moat.

Despite all the excitement and all that came before it, this story is only just beginning. Stacey, I love you.