“Hello. Have we met before?” How often have you heard this phrase. Quite a lot, I expect. I didn't ever realise it would come to mean so much to me.
I first came across Richard in November 1969. We got to know each other well, and found we had several friends in common.
Lots of coincidences started to crop up: his best friend was in my class at school and also this person's mother was my parents' bridesmaid.
We also realised we'd been in schools next door to each other. We often laughed that he was probably one of the lads that used to call out and whistle to us high school girls as we ran to play hockey in those famous grey shorts!
I was born and brought up in Norwich but although Richard's family were also Norwich people, his dad was sent to Gloucestershire during the war, where he met and married my mother-in-law. They eventually moved back to live in Norwich when Richard was about two years old.
We got married in 1971 and 25 years and two grown-up children later, it was approaching our silver wedding anniversary.
"Let's have a party to celebrate," I said. "Why not. Good idea," replied Richard.
Soon the room, music and food were all sorted out and invitations written. We'd never had a proper party before, so it was all very exciting. We hadn't seen some of the guests for a long while, so everyone was looking forward to it.
A few months before it was due to take place, we thought about what we could do to make it a bit different. Eventually, we decided to get lots of photos and do a This Is Our Life, starting from the present day and working backwards. Out came all the albums.
Picking out the best of the recent pictures was relatively easy but as they got further and further back, it became harder.
"What on earth do we look like?" was said several times. "How could you have gone out like that," asked our children, Gavin and Lisa.
They then picked out the 'best' of them as they were growing up. Of course, the wedding ones followed, proving that Richard did have a good head of hair once and that we were actually young at one time.
Then came the task of raiding our parents' collection of old snaps, mainly printed in black and white.
This is where the title of my story comes in. My mother produced the early photo of me at four months old, taken sitting on Father Christmas' knee in what was Curls Department Store (later to become Debenhams), situated at the time in Westlegate, Norwich. This was December 1949.
Richard's mother then produced an identical picture of him at 18 months old, taken in the same shop, with the same Father Christmas! We just couldn't believe it!
Our mothers had probably been standing in the queue together. Remembering that they had only just moved to Norwich or were only visiting prior to coming here permanently, what a coincidence!
So had we met before? We definitely think so.