This year’s Bloggers Bash takes place on 19th May. Some people have noted there is a Royal Wedding and the FA Cup final that day, but it also has another claim to fame and one of which attendees need to be cognisant:
My 34th Wedding Anniversary
(apparently you give gifts made of freshly baked grins, sprinkled with cardamon-scented sniggers)
In celebration of this confluence of confabulatory congratulations, I take you back to that rather big day in the life of this particular Le Pard
In mid 1983, I lived in a flat in Tooting, South London. For those in love with the absurdity of British place names, to live somewhere called Tooting makes everything seem just that little bit more jolly. Had I been a resident of Dull, or worse, Bored I wonder if what happened next would in fact have slipped past in a cloud of ennui and apathy.
Even that’s up for dispute. We’d bought the flat, learnt to drive and bought the car, holidayed ‘abroad’ and we’d even acquired a food mixer. In those Yuppie Years when materiality was a lifestyle choice not a prioritisation of options, we’d bought ourselves the trappings of any ambitious young couple so what was left?
We were, from memory, sitting on the new carpet in the sitting room – the sofa was on order but back then it took some nine weeks to come – having a break from putting together a bedside cabinet, which, as seems still to be the case, had instructions translated by a left-brained moron from the original Swahili, via Basque – when the subject of holidays came up.
‘What about next year?’
‘Europe? Maybe a city break?’
‘Maybe we should get married, make it a honeymoon?’
Who uttered those words? Me? I can’t be sure. But somewhere we both found ourselves in a conversation which appeared to have developed around us, with the ‘marriage’ question having been posed, answered and already become received wisdom.
I think we were both a little stunned that we’d finally agreed to do what had taken us seven years. Most people have an itch at year seven. We had Wedlock Impetigo to scratch.
It turned out that was, in fact, the easy bit. After that the difficulties arose like fresh outbreaks of scrofulous:
- the date: all important parties had to be consulted and big important occasions – viz the Lord’s Test and the Quilt Show weekend – avoided
- the venue: custom suggests you go to the Bride’s home but I had two ancient grandmas for whom travelling was a chore so we ended up in Hampshire
- the reception and, specifically who was going to pay – neither of a our parents were flush with readies and both of us liked the idea of controlling the event by paying for it… if only we had a little spare of our own
- the guest list: now call me mean spirited but my mother and I had the, ‘mother’ of run ins over this aspect – one advantage that my mother in law’s ability to fall out with all her family at various times brought us was a sparse list of persona grata from her side, but my mother was in a different class, to whit…
(me reading a list Mum gave me) ‘Who’s Marjorie, Mum?’
‘Your father’s great aunt; independent and smells of beetroot.’
‘Do I know her?’
‘No darling, she’s rather lacking in the graces but she likes a good do. You’ll like her.’
‘And Joan? And Vernon?’
‘Your father’s second cousin and his second wife. They hid your father in 1943 when he had been caught poaching with Sid…’
‘Sid? Who’s Sid?’
‘The poacher darling, Sid Seeley. He taught your father to tickle trout though Edgar thought him uncouth because he tied sisal round his trousers – to stop the rats.’
‘Edgar? Wasn’t he dad’s uncle?’
‘That’s right. Married your great Aunt Vera after the Marmalade Embarrassment of 1923…’
‘Are you planning on inviting them? They’re not on this list.’
‘Hardly, dear. They died long since.’
‘Mum why do we have to invite these strangers to my wedding?’
‘They’re not strangers. They’re family.’
‘But I’ve never met them. I’ve not even heard of them.’
‘But that’s why people have weddings, so you can meet your relatives.’
‘No Mum. If you’ve not thought fit to introduce me to these people in my 28 years, you’re not about to fill up the pews of the Church with a random selection of strangers…’
‘No, Mum, and that’s final.’
Yeah sure, it was. We compromised and allowed anyone who I’d seen within the last fifteen years to come plus three free selections of Mum’s choosing. Of course they were lovely and when, finally, Mum and Dad celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary and I met met a lot of them, they were all charming and interesting and interested. But at least I didn’t have the added stress of making small talk with a roomful of wandering ne’er-do-wells…
There was a lot of planning; in my memory I took a full part in that process. In practice I think I nodded a lot. By this time in my relationship with the Textiliste we had developed the Trio-Pick Protocol for all big decisions, which, in essence goes like this:
Her: ‘We need a so-and-so (viz: wallpaper, washing machine, small tool for extracting egregious stones/glass/neighbours/threatening letters from a foot/finger/window/letterbox)’
Her: ‘I’ll do some research and then we can decide.’
[a week/day/unconscionably short period later]
Her: ‘I’ve whittled it down to these three…’ [Note: it is critical that the list is no longer than three but to avoid MEM (male ego meltdown) there must be three]
Me: (girding loins and other girdable accoutrements) ‘I think A…’
Her: ‘Really? You don’t think it’s too pink?’
Me: (quickly) ‘I meant B… didn’t I?’
Her: ‘Too French?’
Me: (nervy laughter) ‘Did I say B? Of course, C.’
Her: ‘C? Are you sure? I mean, it was my preference but…’
Me: ‘Definitely C.’
Somehow we got there. Perhaps the biggest challenge were the rings. Hers. I have, had this thing about rings, stemming, as did so much, from my father’s prejudices. At some point, some years before I’d come across this gold ring in a box with a small thread tied round it. When I asked Mum what it was she smiled indulgently. ‘It’s your father’s wedding ring. He’s never liked wearing it.’
I don’t remember her explaining why, probably because she didn’t need to. It was implied. Rings were for girls.
So when I was asked if I was getting a ring, I dissembled, shuffled my feet and generally looked anywhere but at those two questioning blue eyes. When I did look, she too had an indulgent smile.
Similar to my mother’s but with a twist; a twist that said, ‘This will cost you, Buster.’
I should perhaps note here, given the rather gauche proposal, that I hadn’t obtained an engagement ring in advance. This wasn’t because I had doubts we would become as one but rather for the reasons explained above. It was inconceivable that I would go off on my own and buy something as deeply personal, so redolent of beauty and art as an engagement ring without her choosing it. I mean, really?
I might be getting married, but that didn’t mean I’d not suddenly discovered good taste…
Next time: The Big Day
Don’t forget to buy your ticket for The Bloggers Bash on May 19th, 2018. Click here for full details.