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DREAM BIG

Film critic, journalist and broadcaster Mark Kermode and film professor Linda Ruth Williams have been married for 28 years.

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When journalist and broadcaster Mark Kermode first saw academic Linda Ruth Williams at Manchester University in the mid-1980s, he knew she was the one. ‘I had to give a presentation for my PhD, which was on horror fiction, and Linda was a fellow in the English department,’ he recalls. ‘I took one look at her and thought: that’s the woman I’m going to marry.’ He turned out to be right, although it took several years before she felt the same way. ‘Mark insisted that I come to see him in one of the many skiffle bands he’s been in and the minute I saw him play the double bass, that was it,’ says Williams. A year later, the couple were married (his band, the Railtown Bottlers, played at the wedding) before spending the next 18 months living apart: he was working in London; she in Liverpool.

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"I took one look at her and thought: that's the woman I'm going to marry."

The couple relocated to the New Forest, where they went on to have two children (now aged 18 and 20) and currently spend much of their time travelling in different directions. ‘There’s an awful lot of co-ordinating so that we can both be in the same town on the same day. A really romantic thing for us is finding a space where we can read and write together,’ says Kermode, citing a hotel as a perfect place to do this. ‘It’s those moments in between where you’re somewhere luxurious and being pampered and looked after,’ continues Williams. ‘Reading is really important to me. If I can sink into somewhere comfortable to catch up on the Booker Prize list and experience another world that a novelist has given me whilst I’ve been in another world myself, it’s really rejuvenating. That makes me go back into normal life with a spring in my step.’

The pair have a core of shared interests: as well as watching films together (Christmas rituals include family viewings of It’s a Wonderful Life and Mary Poppins), they like walking in Cornwall and Shetland, where they run an annual film festival and, of course, music. ‘I play music and Linda is a music obsessive, so we go to a lot of gigs together, and we argue about music quite a lot. There was a discussion about who brought what to the relationship and I think the answer was that I brought The Who and Linda brought Led Zeppelin,’ quips Kermode. ‘She still comes to see me play double bass and then remembers why she married me.’

Mark and Linda at The Dixon, Tower Bridge, Autograph Collection
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Occupying an awe-inspiring building that dates from 1906, when it served as the Tower Bridge Magistrates Court, The Dixon is a new hotel that captures all the culture, creativity and variety of London SE1. Named after John Dixon Butler, the Grade II-listed building's original Edwardian architect, The Dixon is steeped in history but inspired by the contemporary character and culture of its vibrant neighbourhood. Its 193 rooms and suites, lounges and restaurant enjoy an edgy, eclectic design aesthetic and a boutique vibe.

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