How we met: ‘My dad was a docker and her parents were very middle class. People gave us three weeks’

Alan and Janet, both 65, met at sixth form in 1974. They live in Colchester with their two dogs

As a teenager, Alan was the first to admit he didn’t know anything about girls. But after many years at a same-sex school in Chingford, in 1974 he went to sixth form, where they had mixed classes. When he arrived at his history class, the teacher sat him next to twin girls. “One of them was Janet,” he says. “She turned around and gave me a great big smile and I was smitten straight away.”

Although Janet thought him “very interesting and knowledgeable”, she also found him irritating because “he butted in all the time”. They got to know each other better when they starred in a performance of The Mikado together. “I was playing Yum-Yum and Alan was playing Ko-Ko,” says Janet. “He was talented and he had a beautiful voice. He was also very friendly and kind to other people doing the show.”

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