How we met: ‘I was a paper boy and she was the Saturday girl in the newsagents – she seemed so cool!’ | life and style

Yon 2004, when Claire was a teenager, she got a Saturday job at her local newsagents. She was soon spotted by one of the paper boys, Curtis. “A few of my friends did the paper round with me and they knew Claire worked in the shop,” he says. “It was obvious I liked her, so they suggested I buy something from her so I could talk to her.” His plan of her to impress her of her did n’t go well. “I went in for a Snickers and when I tried to pay she slammed it down on the counter so quickly there was no time to talk. I just ended up with a chocolate bar I didn’t want,” he laughs.

“We had grown up in the same area, so I had seen him around but we never hung out,” says Claire. “I don’t remember being standoffish but it was probably a bit awkward.” Curtis admits he was a bit intimidated by her. “There was a hierarchy in the shop and the Saturday girl was definitely a tier above the paperboys,” he says. “She seemed so cool and looked pristine. We were soggy from the rain and mud, after falling over with our bikes.”

Assuming she wasn’t interested, he gave up trying to talk to her. Two years later, they were introduced to each other at sixth form college, but they didn’t develop a friendship. “Ella She was going out with someone else and I thought it was a lost cause,” he says.

Claire thought he was unapproachable. “We used to get off the bus at the same stop and walk different ways. But I always felt as if he didn’t like me. I felt like he was glaring at me,” she remembers.

When Curtis returned home from university in 2010, he found a job with the Co-op, while Claire became an optician. When friends of Curtis’s added Claire on Facebook, she saw his name de ella and sent him a friend request. They soon began chatting and realized they got on “really well”. After exchanging phone numbers, the pair started texting each other. “I hadn’t seen him for such a long time but I really liked him,” says Claire. “He was much easier to talk to and he seemed like a really cool person. I have used to do a lot of DJing in Manchester.”

Claire and Curtis at a fancy dress party in 2021.
‘I’ve not been well lately and it’s made me realize how much he cares for me’ … Claire and Curtis at a fancy dress party in 2021. Photograph: Provided by Claire and Curtis

In February 2011, they bumped into each other on a night out. “I couldn’t believe how friendly she was,” says Curtis. “She seemed engaging and interested in me. It felt a bit too good to be true.” Claire admits she “deliberately took” his beanie hat from her so she would have to see him again.

The following week, they arranged to go out for drinks. “It was Valentine’s Day and Curtis made me a card,” says Claire. “We have been pretty much inseparable since then.”

They began dating exclusively, regularly going on nights out, trips to the cinema and spending time at each other’s houses. In January 2014, they bought their own place in north Manchester. They married three years later and live together with their dog. Claire still works as an optician, while Curtis does IT security for a bank.

Curtis loves that Claire is the driving force in their relationship. “I really gravitate towards her. She comes up with ideas and always has the motivation to do something,” he says. “It’s just really easy to love her.”

Claire describes her husband as her rock. “I’ve not been well lately and it’s made me realize how much he cares for me. I could never have done it without him,” she says. Although some people think they’re “like chalk and cheese”, she believes their personalities complement each other. “He’s very caring and sensitive – but in a good way. I’d book a holiday every weekend but he keeps me grounded. Over time we have grown up and matured together.”

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