How we met: 'I stood there awkwardly, then told her I'd been bitten by a duck’

Lizzie Cernik
·4 min read

When Emma Naks graduated in 2013, her love of reading led her to take an internship at the book department of a London auction house. “I was living with my parents in Buckinghamshire and took the Metropolitan line into work every day,” she says.

In September that year, she was spotted by Richard Showan, who lived in Chorleywood and worked as a lawyer in the West End. Although Emma had her nose in a book, he couldn’t miss her red lipstick. “She had all these feathers in her hair and looked very distinctive. I really wanted to talk to her, but I was too shy.” After a few days of seeing her every day on the tube, they caught each other’s eye and smiled. Emma was keeping a diary at the time and nicknamed him “awkward train guy”. “One day my sister caught the train with me and asked if ‘train guy’ was around. He was wearing a bad jumper, so I lied and said no, because I didn’t want her to judge,” she remembers.

By the end of October, Richard was finally ready to approach her. “I went over to the spare seat next to her. I think my first words were: ‘I don’t know what I’m doing,’ and I just stood there awkwardly.” Emma asked if he wanted to sit down and they chatted throughout the journey. “I think I managed to tell her I’d been bitten by a duck once,” he laughs. Although he told Emma he was a lawyer, she didn’t believe him. “He was always dressed in jeans and baggy jumpers. I thought he was a van driver,” she says.

They chatted again over the next few days, before eventually exchanging numbers and agreeing to meet for a coffee. “Neither of us were looking for anything at the time,” says Emma. “I thought it was a friendship at first. But I did think he was handsome and easy to talk to.” They met at a Costa near Emma’s home and ended up chatting for hours. “We met in the morning and were still there by dinner time,” she says.

By November, the pair were officially a couple. “The day before Christmas Eve, I told him I loved him and he said it back on Boxing Day,” says Emma. The following autumn, they bought a house together in Amersham and Emma gained her qualifications to start a career as a town planner. On New Year’s Eve 2014, Richard asked her to marry him. “It wasn’t quite the proposal you’d expect,” says Richard. “I was working during the day and Emma came to meet me for lunch with a picnic. I’d had a ring made already, so I just got down on one knee outside my office and then went back to work. My boss sent me home to celebrate.”

They married at Mayfair library in February 2017 and had a reception at the Landmark hotel, where they had shared afternoon tea on one of their early dates. That year, they moved to Aylesbury, where they still live. The couple share a passion for travel; they love going to off-the-beaten-track destinations. “We’ve visited Ghana, Uzbekistan, Bosnia, Russia, Mongolia and we went on the Trans-Siberian railway for our honeymoon. We also go to Cornwall every year. I introduced Emma to surfing on the south coast,” says Richard.

Emma loves her partner’s thoughtfulness and the fact that he is confident about who he is. “He’s never afraid to say no and go his own way. He’s taught me to be more confident and introduced me to new music, food and experiences.” Although most people think Richard is “quiet and nice”, she says there is much more to him than meets the eye. “He’s spontaneous and funny. There’s so many layers to him.”

Meanwhile, Richard says his wife’s spark can light up a room. “She’s so generous with her time and always fun to be around.” He has also enjoyed getting to know her family, who are originally from Poland. “It’s meant I have been able to explore another culture and try new foods. I’ve eaten lots of beetroot soup,” he laughs.