Romance Not Dead – Official

The wedding invitation had two photos.

On the front were a boy and a girl sitting together on the grass. She’s Su. He’s Wink. Both wearing cowboy hats. Both with whistles. Arms round each other. She’s holding a bunch of flowers and from the way she’s looking at the boy, clearly thinks he’s the best thing since soda bread (or whatever people round here like for breakfast). At the age of, I dunno, six? It’s obvious that they’re best buddies.



But it couldn’t last, could it? Blame grown ups for that. They move and the kids have to move with them. She left and the partnership was destined to become a hazy distant memory.

Or was it? Twenty (or so) years later the by now even more grown up grown ups happened to meet and agreed what fun it would be to reintroduce the childhood buddies – assuming they even remembered each other. So they did. And they did – remember, that is.

Which is why the photo on the back of the invitation shows them picking up where they left off before they were so rudely interrupted. Back together on the grass, hats on, arms round each other. He’s a bit more beardy. She still likes him. Somewhere along the way they’ve lost their whistles, but she’s gained a son (who’s a dab hand with a camera and possibly destined for, ahem, glossy magazines – of which more later.)

So maybe, despite everything, some people are destined for each other.

They were certainly destined to have a wedding unlike any other.

The first reading at the ceremony this weekend had us sitting up in our seats. The very welcoming registrar looked as though she wasn’t sure where it was going. Neither was I. This was it:

I don’t believe in marriage.

– No, I really don’t.

Let me be clear about that.

I think at worst it’s a hostile political act, a way for small-minded men to keep women in the house and out of the way, wrapped up in the guise
of tradition and conservative religious nonsense.

At best, it’s a happy delusion…

these two people who truly love each other and have no idea how truly miserable they’re about to make each other.



when two people know that, and they decide with eyes wide open to face each other and get married anyway, then I don’t think it’s conservative or delusional.

I think it’s radical
and courageous

and very romantic.

(That’s from the wedding scene in the film Frida, where a friend speaks at the wedding of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.)

But the vows really cracked us all up. Wink was first.

I, Wink, do give my solemn promise to remember that Su is always the boss, even when she let’s me think I am.

That she made the same promise was almost lost in the laughter following his declaration.

The speeches didn’t follow the normal pattern either. What’s normal is that listeners get dozier and more distracted as the speeches go on – the longer the speech the more boring it’s likely to be. Not this time. People were gripped. But not because they were moving or funny. They were both those things. But it was something else altogether.

As the first speaker was introduced, I noticed they were standing at the end of the corridor to the toilets – effectively blocking it. (Did I mention that these were the only toilets?) So you’d have to be a particularly ill-mannered guest to shove the speechifier aside in mid-flow. (Oh, shouldn’t have said “flow”.)

Sure, if you were desperate you might have interrupted the groom’s brother. You could get away with that. He kept things light, had us laughing. But he was early on, before general realization set in. And by the time the bride embarked on her heartfelt, beautiful, hilarious and delightfully detailed speech, it was too late.  I saw brows furrowed, jaws clenched in concentration, rapt attention to her pauses for breath as she… turned over a new page.

And you can imagine with what pleasure legs were uncrossed as we stood for each new toast, glass in the air then another swig. Then legs recrossed.

And through it all, there was I – relaxed, leaning against the bar, urging each speaker on to even more involved verbal meandering and reminiscence. A large glass of Rebellion in hand, from which I derived regular insouciant relish. Aah, lovely isn’t it? (“Isn’t it? Don’t you want one? Don’t you? Not just now. Okay.”)

I’m not bragging about having a bladder of camelesque proportions. It’ s just that I’d caught on to the blockage problem early on and had nipped out to the back hedge while everyone else was settling down to listen. So if you ask me, the speeches were, if anything, too short.

There were many other surprises…

  • That the bride wore red. And orange. Like a living flame.
  • That the cake matched.
  • That the bright red chilli peppers in her hair and on his lapel did too. (Why doesn’t every marrying couple do that? – wear something that speaks to their character or that they really enjoy. I was very partial to bananas – a bit of yellow would have looked great against my light blue wedding suit. Or a packet of Tayto Cheese & Onion crisps – also a yellow packet if you get the proper ones from the North.)
  • That his ring was made from a crashed Battle of Britain Spitfire. (How cool is that.)

    I had every editorial justification for pictures of models flashing their knickers - but instead, here's a Mark V Spitfire. Phwoar! Right Wink?


  • That it was so Tolkeinesque – I could imagine Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and someone from the band Buzz popping in for a pint at the pub. But more than that – rings went missing on four occasions prompting epic quests. Not belonging to the bride or groom thankfully – it was hard enough getting them on – they’ll not be slipping off any time soon. Other than that it was shoes, bags, heads, inhibitions, the run of herself – just the usual things being lost.
  • That Wink is called Wink because… Ah, d’you know…. I’d better not.
  • That there’ll be a group from Lagos and some Sikhs in their wedding pictures. He’ll be wondering how she knows them. She’ll be wondering how he knows them. Confession time – it was me. They were just some guys I met on the way to the hedge.
  • That women should take unusual care when dressing for a wedding. It’s not just the plunge of your dress nor the height of your hem that you need to take into account, but the cut of your knickers. No, it’s not what you think, you mucky pup. Though you’d never know who you might meet and how well and how quickly you might get on. It’s because there might be a very handsome, smartly dressed ring bearer who gets his hands on all the disposable cameras left scattered on the tables, and uses them to sneak candid shots of every concealed appurtenance. And I know him. He’s got great attention to detail. He won’t have missed you. So that album won’t just be mystery Nigerians. It’ll feature invited guests – and their gussets too.

So just in case that which you thought hidden gets an unexpected outing – remember this: Less isn’t more. Think big. Or wear trousers.

In his defence, the intrepid snapper was only nine years old. And charm personified.

Eek! Something else has just occurred to me. There was a Scottish bloke at the wedding. Wearing a kilt. I wonder…



Filed under friends, In the village

18 responses to “Romance Not Dead – Official

  1. I don’t know whether to laugh or throw some confetti at you…I really think weddings are in, marriages are out!!

  2. I was about to throw rice!

  3. Ursula

    Yes, Paul, I too like a bit of drama. Now i know which wedding, your camelesque proportion bladder full till empty, you were referring to in yesterday’s comment.

    Going slightly off tangent: That’s why I never understand people talking about glasses half full/half empty. Fact is, what goes in must come out. Unless stuck.


  4. Diego Rivera one of my favorite artists

  5. That sounds like great fun. (And it’s true, all the best brides wear red 😉 )

  6. I love the story you share in this post. But for some reason, the fact that “…his ring was made from a crashed Battle of Britain Spitfire” really grabbed me. How darned COOL is that?!

  7. The kilted Scot is a nice touch to leave the reader guessing. Great story BWT, I kept imagining different scenarios and you kept going off in tangents totally unexpected. There is a short film in there in that story.

    • blackwatertown

      Ah yes – it could be a brief caper movie – and the stolen diamond ring could be discovered sticking out of the Scotsman’s jockstrap by the intrepid candid cameraboy. Woo hoo – Academy Awards here I come.

  8. Yep sounds pretty awesome. Not sure about the chillies in the lapel but each to their own.

  9. 29

    How fascinating a contribution to human knowledge the excerpt from the wedding of Kahlo and Rivera; remind me not to remember that, along with any potential quotes emanating from circles who seem to think that they should be exempt from normal mores and be lauded for it. Should I wish to indulge I can resort to footballers, film stars or red-mist fashion models.

  10. Iti s beautiful. I love it! 🙂 So romantic…

  11. Why can’t more weddings be like this? Why do so many want the fairy tale (expensive) ceremony, and have every single moment scripted? The second best thing that happened at our wedding (#1 was her saying ‘I do’), was the unexpected wind and rain which chased everyone indoors, where we were packed like sardines. It certainly broke down any pretense at formality. Thanks for sharing this, Paul, and I agree with Rummuser that it would make an excellent film.

    • blackwatertown

      Agreed. If you chose to take advantage of the weather and stage a wet wedding T-shirt contest at your reception, that’s completely up to you. You have my vote.

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