BECKY: He had like his green Fred Perry on… the glasses, so like I remember noticing that and just being like… ‘you’re hot’.
JAY: We were sitting on the top deck next to each other and you’re sort of sitting there, going ‘I’m not sure what to do here’ do you do the cheesy arm over the shoulder?
BECKY: He actually said, "“please don’t tell anyone this, ever.
MARIA: Welcome to Equal Parts, a series of true love stories, told by the couples themselves. This week, a noughties retelling of the classic waitress in a cocktail bar scenario, and a mod-tastic customer who keeps coming back, again, and again, and again.
Just a head’s up, this episode contains one mild swear towards the end.
BECKY: My name is Becky Hodges, and my husband is Jay Hodges.
JAY: I’m Jay, and I am now married to Becky, for...coming up to two years this year, so in all that’s about nearly 10 years together.
BECKY: He is honestly the kindest, most generous, thoughtful person ever. He’s not very erm vocal with it, so, I’m, I tell him I love him about 1000 times a day, and expect the same as well, whereas for him, he shows me he loves me through like acts of service, so he will always make me a cup of tea, he you know, looks after me so well, and that’s how he tells me he loves me. He’s cool, he’s still to this day way too cool for me.
JAY: I’ve probably gone from being this sort of shy, fairly removed sort of kid, er head down in my sort of work, very male orientated sort of vibe like ‘I’m a man’ sort of thing, to being a lot more softer, a lot more, hopefully more accomodating, moldable I suppose, to more of a person that someone would want to be with, that’s probably thanks to Becky in that sense.
BECKY: He was a lot more quiet, then, compared to now. I think he’s had no choice but to, if ever he wants to say anything now he just has to jump in, because otherwise he won’t get a chance.
JAY: Er, but I like to think I have influenced her in my own way.
BECKY: He’s made me such a better person… I was a real cow [laughs].
So, I worked in a pub.
JAY: Called The Camden, and erm, not in Camden, and my friends used to frequent it quite a lot.
BECKY: A really old man’s pub, not a cool pub at all. And my friend was the landlord which is how I got the job there, because I’m a terrible barmaid [laughs]. Erm, so I was working in the pub, I think it was just a regular evening or whatever, and this guy walked in, and he was mod-tastic. I actually remember the exact thing that he was wearing the first time I ever saw him.
He had, this really lovely white shirt on, a pencil thin blue Fred Perry tie, with a Fred Perry pin in it as well, really tight suit trousers, way too tight, erm quite pointy shoes, and he had this like, mod, bowl haircut, thick black glasses, erm, and yeah he just walked into the bar and was so out of place it was hilarious. And erm, walked towards me to be served, and my friend who was the landlord, said to me randomly, out of nowhere, “oh you’re gonna marry that guy” and then walked off, and then like left me kind of startled to serve this guy. And so we didn’t have conversation at all, I just served him and that was it. And then… he kind of kept coming in.
So he only ever really came in with two friends who are now really really good friends of mine, but erm, he would come in with Mike after badminton, which is not the sexiest of looks when you’re really trying to like, pick up a chick [laughs] you know, “hey where have you been?”, “er at Badminton with my friend Mike” [laughs]. He literally, he sounded like a 65 year old. Erm, and not the most athletic either. And then his other friend Darren who he would go out with had a long-term girlfriend Louise, who is also a really great friend of mine now, but it was just the three of them, because the pub was situation, erm, just across the road from a train station, so everyone would go there before they were going on their big night out, so I would kind of see them all come in and have loads of fun, then not quite be able to work out what the dynamic was?
Erm, so, yeah I didn’t really know them very well, but yeah I think they were all sort of starting to take the piss out of him, kind of keep coming to the pub that he wanted to see the barmaid at.
JAY: I think they worked it out after a while, because I often spent most of the time at the bar talking to her and leaving them in the corner but er [laughs] yeah I’m sure they’ll er be pleased that they allowed me to do that.
BECKY: And every time he came in I would notice him, and kind of be desperate to talk to him, but not really know what to talk to him about, and we… that kind of went on for a little bit, and er, it turned out that there’s this one evening, we were both, I don’t know, hanging out in the bar and, I remember he had like his green Fred Perry on again with the bowl haircut and the glasses, and actually I think that was the first time that I saw that he had, erm a tattoo, because his arm was out, so like I remember noticing that and just, being like ‘oh my god, yeah, you’re hot’, and he had very tight trousers on back then, which was really helpful because he’s got an amazing arse.
JAY: And then it come to a point I think when we was in there one day and either she’d finished her shift, or, she was with her friend Nancy from memory, and me and my friend were sitting down, and they had one of these digital jukebox things, where you would just mess around with the songs, and I think weirdly enough we both went up at the same time and was gonna choose the same song.
BECKY: We ended up putting the same song on the jukebox, they had this big erm, electronic jukebox, you know that they’ve got in most pubs, and we both selected a song…
JAY: Called I think ‘My Generator’
BECKY: I think it was ‘About Your Dress’
JAY: By The Holloways.
BECKY: By The Maccabees… I think… you might have to fact-check that.
JAY: I haven’t listened to that for a long time, but yeah, and it just happened to be that was the first sort of initial, face-to-face introduction that we had.
BECKY: And erm, we both realised that we’d both put it on and had a bit of a conversation, and it was all like [squeals] ‘oh my god, the only other kind of, cool person here’.
JAY: We spoke with my friends and her friends for a few hours and then we parted ways… errr, and then.. That’s… To be honest I sort of forgot about her in a way, for a bit, er as you do, erm and it happened to be that we was in one of these cheesy clubs that we used to go to when you was younger that, it’s been a long time again since I’ve been somewhere like that.
BECKY: We then ended up in a club, in The Venue in newcross, very classy. On the indie floor, because it was 2007.
JAY: On the upper floor was like the ‘alternative/indie’ floor so we’d always be up there.
BECKY: We just kind of bumped into each other, and it was so serendipitous because I had no intention of being there, I wasn’t with you know my regular group of friends, I don’t really think he was, or if he was then he wasn’t with them, and er he just kind of said “you’re the girl from the pub”, I was like “you’re the guy from the pub”.
JAY: And it seemed like the night flew by, ‘cause we ended up just being at the bar talking for hours, er I think I alienated her friends that she was with for the night, because I took all her time up [laughs] away from them, and it was pretty much, which is quite impressive for me being the shy person I was at the time, sort of went in for the kiss at the end of the night, got in there, thought ‘whey! I’m in’ er and being the desperate person I maybe was at the time, I thought straight away, “when are you available for a date?”.
BECKY: We swapped numbers, and literally had our first date the next day.
JAY: So I even text her and said “are you around the next day to go for a drink?” which actually ended up being the case.
BECKY: I remember everything. It’s ridiculous because Jay probably remembers nothing. But he text me, and I was in my parents’ house, I was painting garden furniture, which is very ‘rock ‘n’ roll, er trying to get over my hangover probably. And he text, and it was in Blackheath, and it was at night, and I remember I wore like a red dress, and it was in The Railway pub in Blackheath and he, er there’s no signal there because it’s a complete dead spot, so I was like, ‘how am I going to find him?’, but of course, like, he was just there.
Straight from work, like looking really smart and dapper because in those days he was really… erm, I was about to say ‘into looking good’ but that’s so not what I mean [laughs], he just had a very different look, he’s a lot more casual now. But erm, yeah suited up and all the rest of it, and the stand-out thing that I remember is that he was drinking Fruli, which is a strawberry beer, which like the Jay that I know now who’s like craft beer fanatic, brews his own beer and all the rest of it, for him to be drinking strawberry beer, I think he’d rather die than do that now. Erm, so yeah I like to remind him of that.
JAY: Erm, I remember I got there first, had a drink, she always took the mick out of me because I think I was drinking that Fruli, like fruit beer at the time, erm, but yeah she was late, I think she was, I always remember her saying her Dad dropped her off, so I’d dread to think what she was telling her Dad, or where she was going, or who she was seeing… it was a Monday night which is really weird, people say that is really weird, but erm, it was quite nice for me because I worked in London so I was coming home, so I was being a bit selfish asking her because I knew she was a student, erm but yeah it was a really nice night.
You just know sometimes when conversation flows so easily, and you’re not umming and ahhing about what to say, it’s just naturally, you’ll talk irrelevant stuff, it could be pointless stuff, it could be anything, but it seems to be that no silent sort of stages which is, which is a big thing I think in couples. You don’t have that lull, that sort of boredom or struggle to sort of create a conversation, and that’s a big thing yeah.
BECKY: We just sat and chatted, and there was - probably because I like to talk and Jay’s a good listener - but there were no dead points, and not at one point did I think ‘oh hope I see this guy again’ I kind of thought ‘I know I will’.
JAY: Took her home, being the gentleman, the person I like to think I am. I always remember because we got the bus back, being the tight days [laughs], I was still only training at that time, in my job. So I remember we got the night bus back and I walked her back to her house, and it was that weird moment, when we were sitting on the top deck next to each other and you’re sort of sitting there, going ‘I’m not sure what to do here’ do I make a move in them cheesy sort of er, you know schoolboy sort of feelings, you’re like, do do the cheesy arm over the shoulder? What do you do?
And we just kept talking really and the bus ride flew along, I bottled it in terms of doing anything. I thought ‘right it’s the first date, I don’t know her that well’… even though we’d already kissed in theory, but we were both drunk in fairness… but er, just wasn’t quite sure how to make that first step, and that was always my problem growing up, you can ask my friends that. And it was just again, walking her to the door and that awkward, “great night, goodbye” type thing and do you go for the kiss, nope no, you just say goodbye and weirdly walk off on your own, so errr [laughs] but yeah you quickly message each other as you walk off saying like “great night, let’s do it again” type thing and then that was the case. Erm, and just got really positive vibes from the first thing.
And then it was just that gradual process of, talking to each other, texting to each other, trying to meet up as much as possible, and I think we actually saw quite a lot of each other in the first few weeks, which is quite common I suppose, but it was always, er my feeling at the time, again going back to this shyness, it was always the next step up, could I pluck the courage to try and go in for a kiss sober? Because I’ve not got the sort of er, the confidence of the beer in me, so er it took me a few weeks to get to that point.
And I’ll always remember I think I left her house one night and I was dropping her off, and she said like “you are allowed to kiss me you know” and that was the first point at which we, sort of went “sod it” might as well go for it, and that was er the point from that point onwards, there was plenty of kissing involved. Enough said on that point [laughs].
BECKY: We dated, like a lot, and actually Jay was probably the first guy that I went out on proper dates with? Erm, you know and Jay’s got a real like, I don’t know what the term is… Champagne thinker, beer drinker? Kind of tastes, so, he really sort of wined and dined me, which was really lovely. He probably racked up loads of credit card bills [laughs].
May 17th is the day that Jay officially asked me out, it was very sweet. He erm played me a Ramones track… called… ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend’ and I honestly, I think I just died a little bit when he did that, it was the cheesiest thing. He actually said “please don’t tell anyone this, ever” so I’ve really really broken that promise [laughs]. Erm but it was honestly the sweetest thing, yeah it was just, it was gorgeous. So yeah, you can’t really say no after that.
JAY: You should ask Becky about the first time she met my parents.
BECKY: [laughs] Oh my goodness. I’m so embarrassed about this even now, because they will not let it lie [laughs]. Erm so the first time I met Jay’s parents, I was staying… so we’d been going out for quite a bit, and erm, oh god it’s so embarrassing… I was working at the pub still, so it was after a late shift, so I must have finished at like midnight or whatever. And we went back to Jay’s parents’ house because, aforementioned 21 year olds.
And he was turning off the lights and getting some water or whatever it is, and said “just go up to the top of the stairs, and turn left” I was like “ok, cool”, like creeping around the house in the pitch black, and… went upstairs, and, kind of just like crept into this room… and you know when like it’s really dark and you turn the lights on before you actually walk into the room? WelI did that only to be greeted by his two parents bolt upright in bed, because I had walked in on them, in bed. And was like “oh my god, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry” and like, backed out of the room and closed the door as quickly as humanly possible… and then was like ‘oh my god’, and had to re-open the door, and walk in and go “I’m really sorry again, I’ll just turn off the light” [laughs] and then exit the room and was just dying. I just wanted to leave, I was like “oh my god I’m so sorry”.
So ended up staying the next, and woke up in the morning and his Mum and Dad were so so gracious, and lovely, and cooked me breakfast, and really welcomed me, and were great. Erm and then they went out shopping, or did whatever they were doing and Jay and I had plans for the day. But his parents have this beautiful roll-top bath. So of course like having a shower, and getting ready for whatever we were doing that day, and we left, and I don’t know, we were out and about.
And Jay got a call, from his Dad. Being like “um, did you guys have showers?” and Jay was like “yeah of course we had showers, like get ready in the morning” and his Dad was just like, “um, I don’t know what’s happened, but I think Becky might have flooded the living room”. I was like “oh my god”. So it transpires, because I’m quite.. I talk with my hands anyway, but I’m not really used to showering in a roll-top bath, like you had to sit down in it and shower, it’s really awkward, and there’s no shower curtain or anything.
So in the process of me showering, I had managed to get water absolutely everywhere in their bathroom… and not even notice it, because it was down by the sides of like the corner in the bath and all of that sort of thing. And Jay’s Mum and Dad had got home, and noticed that [laughs] on their kitchen floor was a puddle… and they looked up and it was coming through the light. And there were like “oh my god, there’s a burst pipe or something”.
Jay’s Dad had been trying on his new suede shoes that they had been out buying. So he took it upon himself to stand on a chair and take out the lampshade in their kitchen, only to be completely covered, head to toe in water, by the water that I had flooded their bathroom with earlier that morning. So…. [laughs] yeah, I was mortif- I had to buy them flowers, you know, the whole, the whole thing. They were, they were amazing and still really laugh about it, but erm yeah no I wanted to die. I really wanted to die [laughs].
Jay’s mum gave me a plastic glass to use at their house for years because I smashed so many of her glasses, because I’m so clumsy. So once they kind of knew that about me, erm they just expect it from me. Their house is really full of ornaments and stuff like, it’s beautiful but I’m, I’m just not built for it, I’m just so clumsy.
I think he thinks Pete saying that I was going to marry him before I’d even met him is a load of shit [laughs].
JAY: Becky always talks and I’m sure she will about how as soon as she see me she knew, and I’ve told her this, that wasn’t me, I didn’t know. But it was just that real connection that you have in terms of having fun with someone and that was what I was willing to explore more.
BECKY: I, I think he thinks that I’m romanticising it, but I swear that’s what he said, and it just left me startled you know? But I was, I was so annoyed when I met Jay though because I was 20, I was literally living my best life [laughs], like it really annoyed me that I had met this amazing guy, because once you meet the person that you’re going to marry you can’t unmeet them. So I was, I was pretty pissed [laughs].
MARIA: Equal Parts is produced by me, Maria Passingham. Thanks to Audio Network for the music, and to Becky and Jay for taking part.
As always, there’s a beautiful illustration to accompany this episode, this time created by the amazing Herfa Thompson. You can find it and all of the others so far at equalpartspodcast.co.uk
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Next week, proof that spending hours watching your favourite cartoon over and over again isn’t time wasted, when it leads to matching with your significant other.
LIAM: We are like, really big erm Simpsons lovers.
JESS: For like every date for about two months after that, every time we met he drew me a Simpsons character on the back of a menu, which I thought was really cute.