How we met: 'I saw him and thought, oh God. Now I have to make small talk with a stranger'

Lizzie Cernik
·4 min read

Lucy King had almost completed her last year at university when she treated herself to a solo night out in May 2011. “I wanted to go and see Sufjan Stevens at the Royal Festival Hall in London,” she remembers. “I’d been to lots of gigs by myself before. I liked to get there early and watch the support bands.” She was scrolling through her phone waiting for things to kick off when Paul Crane started walking towards her. There were only a handful of others in the hall at the time, but his ticket was for the seat next to her’s. “I saw him coming and thought ‘Oh God. Now I’ll have to make small talk with a stranger.’”

Paul, who was also a student at the time, had bought tickets for two Sufjan Stevens gigs. “It was a busy time with university exams so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to go. I ended up putting both tickets on sale and someone bought the one for the second night so I decided to go to the other gig by myself.” When he sat down next to Lucy, he knew they’d end up chatting. “It would have been too awkward not to speak to each other.” They got on well throughout the evening and discovered they had plenty in common. After the gig was over, Paul suggested she add him on the music website Last FM. They exchanged a few messages there before becoming Facebook friends. “I didn’t think he was interested in me in a romantic way at all,” says Lucy. “I’m quite cynical and I’d gone through my teens and university years without a boyfriend. I didn’t really feel like anyone would be interested in me like that.”

Paul was living in Norwich at the time, while Lucy was in Oxford, so they agreed to meet up in London. She still assumed it was a friendship. “We sent each other messages regularly and made each other mix CDs. My housemates kept telling me he was really keen,” she says. For Paul, the CDs were definitely a way to express his interest. “I made them a lot in my school days,” he says. “Before I met Lucy, I would project a lot of that emo teenage angst on to girls. I was finally comfortable with myself by the time I met her.”

In early June they met in the capital and went to some art galleries. After an embarrassing moment for Lucy when a gust of wind blew her skirt up, they went back to the coach station to say their goodbyes. “I thought he was going in for the kiss, so I kissed him,” she remembers. Paul was pleasantly surprised. After graduating, Lucy moved back to her family home in Brighton, but the pair continued to meet regularly. “We didn’t live close to each other so it was a bit scary to commit but we decided to give it a go in July,” says Lucy. When Paul had completed his final year of university, he moved to Brighton, where he started a job in accountancy in September 2012. Lucy was already working in administration at a local college.

In 2016, they bought a house together in Worthing, and their son joined the family three years later. They still love going to gigs, as well as travelling and watching true-crime documentaries. “We’ve got a lot in common,” says Paul. “After we started dating we realised we’d been at lots of the same gigs together before we met.” During lockdown they have been treating themselves with nice meals or walks on the beach. Lucy loves her partner’s laid-back nature. “We’ve never really had any proper arguments because neither of us is confrontational. We find it so easy to compromise,” she says. “He’s also really supportive when I need him and hands-on as a dad.” Paul likes that his partner is always kind, caring and funny. “I never need to worry when she’s near. I know she’ll always be there to take care of me and our son, Leo,” he says. “I’ve always felt we were on the same wavelength about everything.”

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