Usually, when I post a picture of my latest graffiti piece on Flickr or Instagram, I get excited when I reach 20 'likes' or I get one or two new followers. To be honest, I've been a little overwhelmed by the now global reaction to my latest piece!
As I write this, there have been over seven thousand hits on my personal Flickr site and the piece has been featured in the Mail Online, Cosmopolitan magazine, the Bristol Post, the Times, ITV News, countless blogs, bridal sites and has had nearly 70,000 hits on Buzzfeed - a personal highlight. The biggest surprise for me has been the speed at which our happy news has travelled. I had barely told my parents before articles began popping up across the world from the USA to Hungary, from Ireland to Canada. Whilst it's touching to have the 'seal of approval' from Perez Hilton and the like, what's most important to me is that my beautiful fiancée, Stacey, said "yes".
On Monday morning, about five minutes after Stacey left the house, I began to put my proposal plan into action. I've based my street art around my favourite childhood cartoons and films for a couple of years now; I enjoy the dichotomy of using friendly, childhood characters in a medium that is often seen as nothing more than thuggish vandalism. It seemed only fitting that for her proposal I should choose Stacey's favourite Disney film, Beauty and the Beast.
It was a whirlwind day of driving about to collect the ring, buy a stepladder, masonry paint and about 30 cans of aerosol paint before hurriedly blanking out the wall with three coats of white paint. After all of this, I raced home to remove every speck of paint from my arms and face (I'm not a natural decorator!), get into pyjamas and pretend that I'd spent the entire day doing absolutely nothing. Stacey arrived home about an hour after I did, and aside from a single dot on my arm of what she assumed to be Tip-ex, there was not a single trace of an inkling of a suspicion of a clue of what I had been up to.
Tuesday was the big day. Again, I was out of the house like a flash after Stacey had gone. She was to spend the day at a first aid training course that would last until 5pm. This gave me nine hours to paint the biggest piece I'd ever attempted: 50ft long by 15ft tall, four characters and seven massive, crunchy letters. I quickly sketched out the outline before filling in the background, the letters and, lastly, added the final details to the characters. Easy.
My pieces always tend to look dreadful until I begin to paint the final outlines and highlights. This piece was no exception. At about 1pm (around three and a half hours in) I stepped back to look at what I had done and assess how much I had left to do. I wasn't even close to where I thought I should be, so I had to drastically speed up. In the end, and after the most frantic painting session of my life, I finished the piece with about 15 minutes to spare.
Stacey had agreed to meet me on Stokes Croft before her Zumba class (which she later cancelled). As I walked down the road to meet her with the ring in my pocket, my mouth dried up and my heart began to race. I had put a great deal of thought into my desired phrasing of 'the question', but when I saw her, my words escaped me. I wanted to tell her that she has been the wind in my sails, the ground beneath my feet and the starry night sky that has held me rapturous since we first kissed. She is the light in my day, the warmth in my blood, my entire world.
I can't remember what I actually said as we walked hand in hand towards my day's endeavour. Some mumbled nothings and jumbled ideas, no doubt. All I remember is elation as she gave her answer and promised to be with me for the rest of our lives.