|She had been the last of four names on the computer printout. A
computer run normally produced six names with addresses and
telephone numbers, but my strict selection of criteria had
severely limited the range of the memory banks! I'd written the
same first letter to each of the women, telling them (tongue in
cheek!) how carefully they'd been selected. It omitted nothing
of importance, informing the selected and elected candidates
even of my commitment to Christ, my involvement in lay
preaching, and of my university degrees. To say the least, the
letter was presumptuous!
Only two of the women replied - Pat, from the south of England,
and Hilda, from the north of Wales. I paid for a second run,
this time adjusting only one criterion: I cancelled my
elimination of non-smoking women, and received a second printout
with more names. All these received the same letter, and out of
these only one replied - a very unlikely candidate ten years
younger than me: Carol, in North Yorkshire, who warned me one
could only expect to find someone one could 'gel' with if one
were completely honest in filling out the form.
I knew, naturally, that a computer couldn't select a woman with
what I called the golden key. But I felt pleased I had prayed.
It made the adventure all the more exciting because now I had
really committed myself to something that was more than a game.
It was like having signed an agreement. It was daring and
therefore, perhaps, exciting - and dangerous! Did I
really want a marriage partner? Be careful when
you pray! The Lord looks deep into the heart. If he sees an
earnest desire there - a visualised goal - he's bound to take
He certainly took me seriously.
But I didn't think so when I met Pat!
She flounced towards me as I emerged from customs at Heathrow,
implanting a kiss on my cheek like the passing lick of a puppy.
'Hello!' she said in an accent that rang oddly in my ears. 'Told
yer ah'd kiss yer, din' ah?!'
My reflex smile was like the outward mask of happiness.
I took in her soft milk-white skin, her rich auburn hair, the
flecks of gold in her smiling brown eyes. And I took in her more
then ample figure. The red slacks did nothing to diminish the
impression of size, stretched around sturdy thighs and ending in
'Hello, Pat,' I said as my mental vision of her dissolved. I
added insincerely: 'Nice to see you.'
Though I spent a week seeing Pat - out of politeness - I had, in
fact, eliminated her from that moment of meeting her at the
airport. I really don't want to be unkind to her. Naturally, I'm
not using her real name. And I'm sure that, by now, she has made
someone a wonderful and loving wife. After all, she was a super
cook. She was a bank clerk, and stored and catalogued all her
pre-prepared meals, ticking off each one with meticulous care
when she removed it from the freezer. She was incredibly
organised. When we left for a picnic outing, she would remember
everything, including my car keys, and the picnic would be
packed with love and precision.
When I brought myself to tell her I would be moving on, she was
'What am I doing wrong?' she asked tearfully.
How could I tell her she didn't have the golden key?
She was trying too hard, perhaps. She was possessive and I felt
smothered by her. Watching television with her on the sofa, I
had felt quite compressed by her presence.
In some measure, I thought, Pat did complement me in a
statistical sort of way. I was an absent-minded academic, out of
touch with reality, while she was a practical, down-to-earth
homemaker. In many respects the computer had come up trumps. She
could cook, she could sew, and she was forever cheerful and went
into raptures about babies. She was a ready-made housewife. And
she didn't smoke.
A research project in the United States intervened and it was
only after a month that I had the opportunity to look up Hilda
in North Wales. And it was clear, from the outset, that she had
been strictly honest about her personal data, for I had expected
someone slim and tall.
She was the most elegant scarecrow I'd ever seen. No, I mean
this quite sincerely. At five feet and eight inches, she was
tall, and just short of thin. She made her own clothes and
looked charmingly elegant in whatever she wore. She had her own
house. Her antique furniture and tidy home radiated exquisite
taste. She didn't smoke, of course. With her soft and sad eyes,
she was a little self-effacing. She was also so gentle and so
caring - a district nurse, and a lovely Christian. I'll always
remember how, when we went to her village church together, she
spent a long time on her knees praying. I felt she was praying
for me. In retrospect I wonder, now, if she was an angel. She
I've never understood why I didn't fall in love with her. After
all, she exactly matched all the details I'd specified. I
recall how pleasantly surprised I was when she drew up in her
little red car - when I glimpsed her gentle face framed by a
mass of auburn hair. When she got out of the car I saw she was
slender, very tall - perhaps a little ungainly - but
immaculately dressed in a pale yellow wool suit. 'I'm a Welsh
leek, you see,' she smiled. 'Long and thin!'
She was home-loving, too. The following evening I watched her
with admiration as she prepared supper in her compact kitchen.
'Here,' she said, handing me a bowl and a whisk. 'Perhaps you
could whisk this into some nice fluffy cream?'
'Certainly,' I said, and took the bowl to the worktop.
'Watch it doesn't turn into butter, now,' she lilted, smiling.
I watched her as I whisked the cream. I recalled how
meticulously she pronounced the Welsh names as she drove me
through the countryside, getting me to repeat the names and
correcting me gently if I mispronounced them! As I whisked the
cream I saw her again, in the church, on her knees, her auburn
hair falling forward and over the high collar of her blouse. She
looked thin and vulnerable, and my heart went out to her.
'How's it going?' she asked musically. Her faraway eyes smiled
as she looked at me through the strands of her hair.
'Oh... yes.' My mind came back to my task. I looked into the
bowl and there were lumpy yellow specks in the turgid texture of
the cream. 'Well, I don't know. I think you'd better look at
She came over. She looked taller than ever in a brown skirt and
blouse that emphasised her slender figure.
'Oh!' she gasped. She put her hand to her mouth, her knees
sagging a little under the effect of amusement. 'I've never
actually seen anyone turn cream into butter. How did you do it?'
'You know, I'm not really fussy,' I apologised.
'Well,' she said, testing the thick mixture with her finger, 'it
was supposed to float on top of the Irish coffee. If you don't
mind it sinking to the bottom...' She smiled as she looked
askance at me.
It's a moment that has remained with me - her relaxed manner and
gentle sense of fun.
She would have made a superb companion. Though I was unaware of
anything like a golden key, she was pleasant to be with. I might
even have revisited her, had I not gone on to North Yorkshire
and met Carol.
I might as well, I thought. After all, I had gone to the trouble
of that second printout! So I took the train to Harrogate where
I booked into a guesthouse just across Montpellier gardens where
Carol shared a flat with three other girls. She was a secretary
and, unlike Pat and Hilda, didn't have her own house. But then,
she was only twenty-five. Pat and Hilda had both reached thirty.
I knew that Carol couldn't fit my visualised ideal. For one
thing, with the only letter I had received from her, she had
enclosed a photograph of herself. It revealed a willowy girl in
jeans seated on a motorcycle. The dark glasses she wore
obliterated the eyes. She was hardly the helpmeet for an
Nevertheless, I must confess, she was the girl that intrigued me
most. There was something about her letter - a lively style with
a bright and quick sense of humour. When I phoned her from
London to make a date for meeting her, I was intrigued by the
laughter that rippled through her speech. The Yorkshire accent
was just detectable.
I felt I needed to impress this young lady. I made reservations
for dinner at the Old Swan in Harrogate. No expenses spared. At
least I would enjoy the evening. It was dark when she emerged
from the door of her flat. I was aware of long straight hair
with a nose that pointed through it, and a tall body with
willowy arms ending in tapering fingers. 'Do you like curry?'
she asked briskly. I said yes, but I'd booked a table at the Old
Swan - and at once found myself marching vigorously to keep up
with her long loose strides. We circumnavigated the Rolls Royce
parked in the front of the hotel and before long were seated in
one of the bar lounges.
'Do you really have a motorcycle?' I asked her.
'No!' She dug into her handbag and extracted a packet of
cigarettes. 'In the photo I sent you I was posing on someone
else's. But I do have a sewing machine.'
This was my first clear picture of her - lighting a cigarette
and exhaling smoke. It went with her image of sophistication:
the high cheekbones, the arched brows, the nonchalant smile. I
took in the long dark hair, the snug-fitting black blouse and
floral skirt. She had an air of a woman of the world. I
distinctly remember thinking she was very attractive, in her
worldly way, and an impossible catch for a fuddy-duddy like me.
'You must have a swarm of handsome young men after you,' I
ventured. 'I'm amazed you're still single, even at twenty-five.'
'Oh,' she laughed, flicking her hair back. 'I'll never get
married. There's so much to do.' She laughed. 'I didn't join
Compudate for marriage, you know. I wanted a fresh range of
A warning? Or was it the old hard-to-get game?
All I know is that, by the end of the evening, I had fallen in
love with her. The mere contact of her lips, when I kissed her
goodnight, made my head spin. Her breath was smoky sweet from
the cigarettes. All at once the ground dissolved. I fell and
fell, through fathoms of space. Then I was dimly aware of her
fingertips on my chest, pressuring my away, gently.
'Goodnight.' She smiled her amused smile.
I had found the golden key!
She turned out to be everything I was seeking, in spite of my
first reaction. She is certainly home-loving. She has been a
wonderful mother to our children. She is understanding, gentle,
yet independent, too. She doesn't smoke anymore, either. And she
is a devoted Christian, having accepted the Lord as her saviour.
She has became the perfect 'helpmeet.' In everything we do, we
work together. We've written two novels in which we've
collaborated as authors. In running our hotel in the Scottish
Borders, we worked as a team. We're either constantly talking to
each other, or simply being sustained by each other's silent
I had visualised a goal. That goal had become deeply embedded in
my subconscious. That's why, for me, Carol had the golden key
even though, at first, I didn't realise it. She had the physical
and personality specifications that fitted my ideal.
Subconsciously, if not consciously, I was seeking for a specific
ideal. How often, when we meet our partner, we say, 'I feel I've
known you all my life!' In a sense, we've already conditioned
ourselves for that woman - or that man - before we've met her,
or him. And the Lord knows it. Seek, and you shall find your
I hope I've conveyed something of the magic and wonder of our
computer-assisted meeting. It was magical and wonderful only
because we had taken a positive initiative - even if that
initiative was in the subconscious! For me it's evidence of the
power of clear goal visualisation combined with the power of
faith. It might be cynical to say nothing wonderful ever comes
to us out of the blue. It rarely does. Wonders happen - but
usually we have to go forward, sometimes towards doors that
appear closed, to find them, and have them happen to us.
(Extract from Have Anything
You Really Really Want by Charles Muller. Further
information at Diadem
About the author:
Charles Humphrey Muller, MA (Wales), PhD (London), DLitt (OFS),
DEd (SA), was Professor and Head of the Department of English at
the University of the North in South Africa for ten years. In
1988 he left his academic career to move to Scotland where he
runs his editing and publishing business, Diadem Books
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