MARRIED THREE TIMES AND I'M STILL ONLY 22; Claire Eratt thought marriage was for life. And hopefully it will be - the third time round, as she tells HELEN GARSTON...
But he isn't the slightest bit troubled by being husband number three. "If she hadn't had that past she would have been in a different situation and we might never have met," says Colin.
Claire, mum to Kyle, aged three, and one-year-old Levi, split from her two previous Army husbands within months of marrying them.
She vowed never to say "I do" again - until she met true-love Colin, whom she had dated as a teenager.
Now the couple say they are blissfully happy and that the marriage is for keeps.
Claire, of Immingham, near Grimsby, met her first husband Harry Glover while working as a nanny in Manchester. She says: "It was at my niece's christening and we just started talking. He was a bit slimy and nothing really attracted me to him but when he proposed I said `Yes'."
That same day, Harry, then 27, bought Claire a pounds 100 diamond and sapphire engagement ring.
"We booked the wedding but Harry was stationed in Germany and had to return there before it took place," says Claire. "I was working my notice out in Manchester but most nights I was out clubbing."
Claire and Harry were married at Grimsby register office and had a reception at a pub with 50 guests.
"Two months later I went to Germany where Harry had about six weeks left. Then we were posted back to Catterick in Yorkshire. I was pleased to be back in England but the house they gave us was awful and there was no heating."
Claire soon fell pregnant and had baby Kyle in June, 1994. But it was on a visit to Grimsby the following October that Claire decided she had to leave Harry.
"Everything snapped and I decided to write him a letter finishing it. But when I returned to Catterick he started to cry and begged me not to go. He even tried to convince me I had post-natal depression. But I wasn't having any of it," says Claire.
Eventually Harry was posted to Ireland and Claire stayed behind at the house in Catterick.
That Christmas she was out at a club with some friends when she met Darren Evans, then 24. "I was dancing. He came up to me and started to dance with me.
"He gave me the confidence I needed. When I was 14 I contracted a gum disease and all my teeth fell out. Since then I've had to wear false teeth. I was drunk and was worried I would lose my teeth if I kissed him. Thankfully they didn't drop out!"
Claire didn't think much about Darren and went home for two weeks over Christmas. When she returned to her house in Catterick, Darren appeared with a teddy bear and bottle of wine.
"I'd forgotten what he looked like but thought he was good looking when I saw him again," she says.
The couple started seeing each other. Then in February Darren told Claire that he was being posted to Germany - and he proposed to her.
Claire and Darren married in Richmond, Yorks, in June, 1995 - the day after Claire's divorce from Harry on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown of marriage came through.
They had a huge reception with 200 guests but the marriage ran into problems almost immediately.
Darren developed a bad temper. He would stay out all night and when he did come home, Claire claimed he was too tired for sex. "He was also stingy and kept me and Kyle short."
Then, in February, 1996, Claire's mother rang to say her granddad had died. The couple returned for the funeral and afterwards went round to a friend's house. Colin was there.
"I knew Colin because we had dated when I was 14," says Claire.
It was then that she realised her marriage to Darren was finished. "We ended up rowing and Darren said: `You want a divorce, don't you?'
"That was enough and I agreed. A few days later Colin came round on St Valentine's Day and gave me a red rose.
"I had to pretend to Darren that Kyle gave me the rose. And all this time Darren and I were sleeping in the same bed, arguing over who would get the vacuum cleaner."
Darren returned to Germany and Claire followed - but only to collect her belongings.
Colin moved in with Claire in March, 1996 and she fell pregnant in April. "He just turned up with his suitcase. Levi was born in February and my divorce from Darren came through in June on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour.
"One day, over breakfast, he proposed to me," says Claire. "He actually got down on bended knee. I knew that I wanted him forever so I said, `Yes'."
They married the following month at Grimsby register office - where she had married Harry four years earlier.
Colin, who runs his own tattooing business, says he is not jealous of Claire's past.
"My love for her always lingered from the first time I went out with her," he says.
Claire says: "I am finally happy. I want to forget about my other two weddings and never want to see my ex-husbands again."
I DO, I DO, I DO
Husband No 1
Name: Harry Glover
Then aged: 27
Wedding: Grimsby register office, June 1993
Children: One son Kyle, now three.
Claire said: "I was only 16 when I met Harry at a christening. I had known him the year before and we had been out and he proposed to me then but I said `No'.
"When he proposed again I was bored with my life in Manchester and said `Yes', just for something to do.
"I didn't love him but he was quiet and nice and sincere. We booked the wedding but Harry was stationed in Germany and had to return there before it took place.
"To tell the truth I was thinking: `What have I done?' But I thought I would fall in love with him later. When I was pregnant, I was so bored. I couldn't stand Harry touching me. He became very complacent and expected me to do everything. It was such a relief when I ended the marriage."
Husband No 2
Name: Darren Evans
Then aged: 24
Wedding: Richmond, Yorks, June 1995
"Darren was a bit like Tucker, the Robson Green character in Soldier Soldier.
"He was handsome, funny and loving and very confident. I fell in love with him very soon after meeting him.
"We had a lovely wedding but when we returned to Germany he developed a very bad temper. He would lock me in my bedroom just for a laugh. Our sex life was non-existent. He always said he was tired and in the eight months we lived together we must have had sex around ten times.
"He was also extremely stingy and kept me very short of money. I virtually lived on sausages and Kyle lived on ravioli for about a year."
Husband No 3
Name: Colin Eratt
Wedding: Grimsby register office, July 1997
Children: One son Levi, 13 months.
"I'd been out with Colin when I was about 14 and he was always really lovely and we kept in touch.
"I didn't really fancy him when we met again, although I knew he held a torch for me. I soon realised he loved me and doted on Kyle. He did everything for me. He's like a puppy dog with gorgeous eyes.
"The wonderful thing was he hadn't changed. He still made me laugh. We want to have more children and Colin plans to adopt Kyle next year. Harry hasn't been in touch, neither has Darren and I'm glad."
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|Publication:||The People (London, England)|
|Date:||Mar 8, 1998|
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