14 July 2013

When I look back at the young lad who came to Manchester, determined to succeed but without the necessary tools to make it happen, it’s hard to imagine how all this happened. How did I get here?

I was recently quoted saying, “We are the sum of all the decisions we make.” It’s no wonder that I went around in circles during my first decade in Manchester. It was a game of snakes and ladders, gaining a little success and then sliding back down to where I started, or worse lower on a number of occasions.

My greatest decision I made came from a random night out. It was a chance meeting that changed my life so much it can only be described as a crossroad moment. Somehow, unlike all the other times, I turned right.

It was in a bar owned by the extraordinary Tim Bacon, a good friend of mine. If you don’t know him, you will know his bars and restaurants. The bar back then was called Via Vita, which is Latin for “The Way, The Truth, The Life.” Quite apt really when you consider I was on a journey to nowhere, living a lie with no longterm prospects. This chance meeting was about to shape my life in a way I could never have imagined.

Sitting across a table was a beautiful dark haired girl with shortish hair. I have no idea why I’d ended up there that night. I’d gone out on my own, which was an unusual thing to do, certainly for me. If there is something called fate it was working that night. My friend Bridget ran the bar and she had invited Gail to join her at the table as she was waiting for a friend to turn up. I arrived and sat on the far side. Too far away to have a conversation.

Something struck me though about the mystery girl and I had to do something. I had no idea why, I just knew I needed to.

I remember a story from Marco, my best friend, about how his dad Mario walked past a window of a tea room in Southport when a stunner caught his eye inside. He then proceeded to walk to and fro past the window, pulling faces and doing random things to get the young lady’s attention. Mario could barely speak English but somehow against all the odds of probability he managed to charm her, and he and Pauline are still happily married to this day some 50 years on.

Not a big fan of humiliating myself and realising it was getting cold and Gail didn’t have a coat, I quietly got up from the table and hopped into a taxi from the rank over the road in Albert Square and rushed home to my flat around the corner on Oxford Road to get a coat and jumper.

When I returned the sun had gone down and now it was really cold. I took this opportunity to offer Gail my coat as I sat down and tucked into the food that had arrived for me. And so it began. She was now wearing my coat.

Gail Jones and Lawrence Jones

UKFast founders having a sneaky kiss on their holiday earlier this yea

I have learned in life that when you have a plan, you are far more likely to end up at the desired point.

15 years on she is still pinching my clothes and I am still sitting across a table mesmerised by her.

If we are a sum of the decisions we make, she is the multiplication in the equation.

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