It'd be over ten years ago now. I'd been seeing my german ladyfriend for some time and it seemed appropriate to pop the question. To my surprise she gave me her hand.

The girls knew I was seeing someone. The extra toothbrush and lipstick in the bathroom were a bit of a giveaway. They'd spoken to her on the telephone but never met her. Over the previous months she'd come over on Sunday after I'd taken the girls to stay with their mother for a few days and then be back in Bavaria before they came home. I was a bit nervous about this as I knew the girls didn't like their stepfather and I didn't know how they'd take to a stepmother. We decided she should come over for a couple of weeks and get to know my kiddies.

I was so distracted one of my neighbours (Anthony) drove me to the airport to pick her up. He'd seen her going into and out of my house but had never met her and was desperate to do so.

We're waiting at Manchester airport and all the people from her flight come through except Maria. She's got all these little metal plates and screws holding her right hand and forearm together from a traffic accident she had with a motorcar some years before. She kept setting off the metal detectors so security wanted to give her a good dose of looking at. Although, why they wanted to examine somebody who was leaving the airport I don't know. Perhaps it was because she was pretty?

About five minutes after the rest of the passengers Maria appears. Knee high boots, a long black dress, Black calf length leather coat left open to show the dress, feather boa and a (fake) fur hat. She struck a pose. Weight on one leg, hand on hip. Right foot turned out to show the height of the heels on her boots. Some airport lackey struggling along behind her dragging her suitcase.

"Bloody hell" says Anthony "Are you sure you're going to be able to handle this? You are getting on after all.". I gave him a big grin and told him I'd try to cope.

We get home but then we had to go straight out to the local shops. Apparently I didn't have enough herbs and spices. My food was all wrong. We needed a block of coconut to grate into a curry that was too hot. We should get five pounds of something because it works out cheaper than buying the five ounces you're ever going to use in your entire lifetime.

Back we get from the shops and Maria is putting stuff away in the kitchen. Anthony knocks at the door. "You might need some of this" he says, offering me some foil wrapped strips of blue tablets. I peered suspicously at them and asked him what it was. He tells me it's viagra. "Alright" I thought "In for a penny, in for a pound" so I popped one..........Dinner was late. No surprise there. I was turbocharged....:)

We had a couple of days to ourselves and then the girls came down. I needn't have worried. They got on like a house on fire. They were fascinated by her german accent and she liked kiddies. They dragged her all 'round the house showing her their stuff.

Saturday. We're having a late dinner when my mate Paul turns up. He wanted to meet the girl of my affections so he joined us. He couldn't stay for dessert though so while Maria was doling out syrup suet with custard to the girls I showed him to the door. "These might come in handy" he says, offering me a little white paper bag. I looked inside and it was more viagra. "What is this?" I thought "Do I look so feeble?". I was only about fifty for heavens sake. What the hell?.....I popped another viagra.

Maria and I tried to be quiet in the night but apparently we didn't quite succeed. When I got up in the morning the girls had put two strips of 'crime scene' tape on my bedroom door.

After a few days the girls went back to stay with their mother and Maria and I were free to look for a new house. There were fun things too. There was a special exhibition of Rossettis' work at the Liverpool art gallery and then I had to trudge through some stuff at the Tate modern art place that Maria liked so much. I'm no fan of modern art. I reckon a painting or sculpture should look like something and not just a big piece of hardboard painted green on one side and white on the other.

I'll have to admit though that with all that viagra we spent an awful lot of time doing the horizontal samba instead of going to art galleries......:)

Far too soon Maria had to go back to Bavaria and it was time for my annual checkup at the doctors.

"Bloody hell" she says "What happened to you?" She starts booking me in for a 'starving blood test' for diabeties. She's getting excited about taking my blood pressure and all that sort of doctor stuff. Apparently I'd lost about ten pounds in weight since my last medical. I had dark rings under my eyes and my cheeks were all sunken.........So I told her about the viagra.

Apparently the correct dose is no more than 25mg four times a week and after you've had a medical to make sure your heart can stand it. Not 50mg every day for a fortnight. It does affect you, believe me.

"When are you going to see her again?" asks the doctor (looking at me with some concern). I told her a couple of weeks. I'd be going over just after Christmas to see the Abbot at the Buddhist monastry just outside Regensburg where we planned to be married. And there was the reception to arrange too which I think included jugglers and some sort of outdoor orchestra. And the honeymoon was supposed to be in Venice. I can't swim. Why should I want to go to a sunken city for a honeymoon? Apparently it was the only major european city she hadn't visited. Alright then, I'd wear a safety vest.

Well, for reasons I needn't go into here we had to call the wedding off. Probably saved me a fortune in orchestras and gondolas.

Sadly Maria Anna went to meet her maker a couple of years ago. Oh, but we had fun in the few brief years we had in this lifetime. Even without viagra......:)