This is entirely fiction. Completely. Utterly. Except for any true bits
May 27th. The First Of Her Name has not spoken since I rose at 7.32 pm. This is not a good sign. When I tentatively prompt her with: ‘Anything untoward, Light Of My Existence?’ she points me to the Operations Centre (Wedding) formerly known as the dining room. On the flip-chart two words to curdle any robust gut and send chills through a man’s spleen, have been scratched, no scoured on the surface. ‘Guest List’.
I knew this was coming but like my A level results and my inguinal hernia I always hoped somehow I might be able to sort sleep past them and wake to find them already history. This area has more red-lines than a dyslexic’s spelling test. The difficulty is, of course to try and identify which particular red line has unexpectedly gone straight in at number one. A discrete check of the previous sheets on the flip chart indicates it might be a relative issue.
I make coffee. I take her hand – loosely since I may need to move quickly if I say the wrong thing. Taking a deep breathe, I offer, ‘Aunts?’
A nod. Okay, let’s narrow the field. ‘Joan? Marjorie?’
Two shakes but equally my fingers are still attached. ‘Great Aunts?’
A nod. Then ‘Doris.’
Great Aunt Doris is a torturer, formerly for the Inquisition and as a member of the Waffen SS, if Great Uncle Nesbit’s testimony can be relied on as the repository of family history. She came to our wedding, pronounced herself ‘disappointed’ at me, offered First Of Her Name to pay for a gigolo ‘so you don’t have to wait two years to divorce the maggot’ and left, having cut herself a slice of cake before we’d had the speeches.
I offer: ‘It’s probably for the best if she doesn’t come.’
My guard must have dropped as I register the change in colour of my fingers before the pain hits. ‘Cretin. First Born insists on her coming with her new fancy man. She said she wants to know why we’ve cut Doris out of her life.’
Later, in A&E the Fiancé rings me to check on the extent of my injury (bruised tendons, three weeks of minimal use and no squeezing which the junior registrar insists on demonstrating by the use of an obscene gesture). The Fiancé explains that First Born googled Great Aunt Doris and found her listed as the third richest widow in Rutland. The invite and the possibility of a place in her Will are, he insists, unlinked.
Still processing, this news when he adds: ‘First Of Her Name says she won’t come if Great Aunt Doris does.’
Momentary vision of cancelled wedding, money back and a summer free ruined when I punch the air and have to have broken hand re-triaged.