Date: 18 September 1997
Originally published in: Take a break (UK)
Written by: Andrew Marshall
Two lips. The softest touches. Then Hal and Kim Wilde try it again… and again… and again.
Had you ever heard of Kim Wilde?
No. I never had a record collection. At first I got her mixed up with Kim Basinger.
Were you struck by love at first sight?
That’s a no too. When we were rehearsing Tommy. I went out of my way to avoid Kim. She arrived on the first day and asked: “Am I late?” I told her: “Yes, and you’re the last person to arrive.” She was all flustered. I didn’t speak to her for four days.
So, what happened between you next?
We spoke in the canteen. I was reading a newspaper with my feet up on the table. She sat with her script and turned to me and said: “You seen terribly unflustered. You always like this?” It was her first acting job, I waited about 10 seconds, turned a page, then said: “Yes.” Then I went back to reading my paper. We didn’t speak again for another four days. I didn’t know why I was doing it. It just felt right.
What made you ask her out?
We were on stage one day and there was a limp conversation about who would have enough courage to ask Kim out to dinner. I’d only spoken to her three or four times but I decided I’d actually ask her, rather than listen to all this talk. I strutted across to her and said: “Would you like to come out for dinner with me next week?”. I’d never done anything like that before. She really did make me squirm for about a minute until she agreed. It was a very mannered courtship.
How did you feel on your first date?
On the night I thought: “Blimey!” I was anxious. We hadn’t spoken at all really. There weren’t any furtive looks. What were we going to talk about? I worried she might be dull as ditchwater or suspect that I was trying to get her into bed. Or, worse still, she might think that I was way out of her league. I got myself into such a terrible state that I didn’t have enough money to pay the bill. I had to get someone to drop round with cash in a brown paper bag. I was in complete panic with images of having to say at the end of dinner: “Oh, I’ve left my chequebook at home” Fatal!
Do you think that evening was a hit?
We had a beautiful dinner at a little table where we sat next to each other rather than opposite, which was fun. We talked about things like favourite childhood walks. It was a very easy chat. We were the last to leave the restaurant, clinging to the seats because we didn’t want to go. Finally they booted us out. As she climbed into a taxi, we exchanged a tiny kiss through the window. As the cab drove off, I jumped into the air and went running around town, riding on a cloud of euphoria.
When did things start getting serious?
There were two choices for me. I could either never speak to or look at her again, or follow wherever the euphoria was going. It was all or nothing. However, I was aware that Kim had a bit of a chequered past, so I wasn’t about to pick her up, whirl her around and chuck her in the gutter.
How did you let her know what was in your heart?
When I eventually got home that evening, I sat down and wrote five lines of blank verse. A brief description about various stages of the evening, from the food we’d eaten to what we’d talked about. At the bottom I wrote: “A kiss to be remembered”. It just flowed. I decided to give it to her. “You idiot”, I screamed at myself. “What do you think you’re doing? This is propostorous!” I ripped it up and threw it in the bin. Then I wrote it out again and, again, tore it up. Finally I went to bed. The next morning I finished it for a third time, put it in an envelope, sealed it and wrote Kim on the front.
I hid it at the bottom of my bag and felt like an SAS man. I’d reached ‘stage two’ – the poem was at the theatre. I thought about handing it to the stage doorman or slipping it under her door, but finally I gave it to her without saying a word. I was petrified but comforted myself with the thought that it was too late to retrieve it.
How did you propose marriage to her?
We’d been seeing each other for about four months. In my local pub there was a young chap who’d just got his pilot’s licence, so I asked him to give me a good deal to fly to France. As the date loomed I started worrying about taking the woman I loved in this tiny plane with an inexperienced pilot. I thought: “What will her parents think?” Kim was obviously used to first-class travel and suddenly she meets this vagabond who’s dragging her over to Calais in a model aeroplane. It turned out she was less worried than me. Once in Calais, I said to Kim: “Let’s go and find some rings somewhere and I’ll ask you to marry me over lunch.” She thought it was a great idea. We found a little jeweller and two silver rings. We sat outside a restaurant, ordered everything on the menu and drank champagne, beer and red wine. I asked her to marry me and she asked me to marry her. It was terribly emotional, with both of us blubbing.
Can you recall her family’s reaction?
We had both telephoned our mothers so when we flew home there were great celebrations. I saw Kim’s parents arriving. Marty Wilde is about 6ft 4in tall and I thought I’d better be the kind of boy who asks the father first. So I ran to the car park and said: “I know I should’ve asked you first, the timing wasn’t quite right, but I hope you’re pleased that I’ve asked your daughter to marry me.” Fortunately, he was absolutely delighted. Kim and I married four months later.
How do you remember your wedding?
When Kim walked up the aisle I felt a wave of immense happiness wash over me. There’s no way to describe the pride of being with such a beautiful bride. At the reception Marty and his band played in the evening and Kim, as a joke, sang Kids in America. I tired to match her by singing Teenager in Love with Marty. Kim and I were the last to leave the reception at 2.30am. We sat there with our barrels of beer and ate bangers and mash.
Were did you spend your wedding night?
We ambled across to a pub where we’d booked a room. We woke up early next morning with terrible hangovers and suddenly I realised we’d brought the wrong bag with us. It had nothing in it! So Kim had to put her wedding dress back on and I had to get back into my morning suit, which, by then was covered in mashed potato, beer and champagne. Then I realised I didn’t have a single penny on me and neither did Kim. Forunately the landlord knew us and helped pay for the taxi home. We changed there and off we went to the Lake District for our honeymoon, stopping off for our first meal as a married couple at a drive-in McDonald’s. We nursed our hangovers, read the papers and looked at the pictures of our previous day. It was wonderful.