Bet you thought you’d got away with it didn’t you? Well after much consideration and soul searching – coupled with the fact that I’ve got nowt else on – I thought I’d tidy up the loose ends of our trip to deepest Essex and tell you about a great wedding we went to at the weekend too.
As mentioned in the previous communication, we met up with my cousin and his wife on Wednesday night for a meal. Andy is the closest of my few remaining relatives and we hadn’t seen each other for over three years so we had a good catch up. He’s not into Farce - sorry, Facebook or any of that nonsense so has not had to endure regular updates of what we’ve been up to, although his daughters have made sure he’s not totally out of the loop.
So needless to say (too late) we spent a long time talking about our recent adventures and future plans with Patsy. Delicious food and a decent real ale or three helped.
Thursday provided for more photo opportunities with a brief visit to Brightlingsea, located on the mouth of the river Colne, driving first out to the beach area and then to the town centre and harbour. One of the now largely ceremonial ‘Cinque ports’ and renowned for it’s oyster fishery in the past, Brightlingsea was in the news during the Miners strike in the eighties when they tried to bring imported coal in to the country via the port. Some ten years later there were more protests when it was used for live animal exports, however the campaigners eventually won and the exports ceased.
There was nothing else of particular note to report on for Thursday. We juiced up the car and came back and done a bit of clearing up. Most unusually, a bottle of Rose, opened with dinner was poured away – it must have been bad!
Hitching up the following morning was straightforward. We used the motor mover to ease Patsy across to the car. The grass was still sodden, so we had positioned the car with the front wheels on the road to give them more chance of getting purchase. All went well, and we were soon on our way. We rarely bother swapping the driving during journeys now – It’s much easier and less tiring than it used to be and the run back from Essex was straightforward – nearly all dual carriage or motorway. It was, of course raining for nearly all of the journey, but eased again AFTER we’d got Patsy back on the drive.
Everything was in order at home, so I headed off to get a haircut. Now friends will know that, for years I’ve sported nothing more exciting than a number one crop – straightforward, low maintenance, and easily achieved with a mirror and set of clippers, so therefore cheap too. It had it’s downside though, pretty dull and uncreative, a tad aggressive looking, particularly when freshly cut and coupled with my favourite but all too rarely worn trench coat made me look like a neo nazi. Not an image I was keen to promote, obviously. So, anyway it was all change this summer. I’d deliberately let it grow towards the end of our tour and during the comings and goings in the summer went to visit my barber, the lovely Nellu, in neighbouring Rottingdean who went to work, a little nervously to start with, on my barnet with his clippers. Keen observers may have noted something different in some of the photo’s in "Patsy rides again, innit', but basically what we have now is sort of a cross between a Mohawk, albeit a short one and a Hoxton fin. It looks quite raw when it’s just been cut as I have the sides quite short, but mellows when it’s had time to grow. Opinions have been divided as to whether it suits – It’s been suggested, none to subtlety that I’m too old for it, or that I’m going through a midlife crisis. Both are undoubtedly true but that doesn't alter that fact that I genuinely like it – and so does Trev. Some more enthusiastic observers have felt the need to stroke it (what am I, a bloody dog!) only to find their hands covered in the copious amounts of sticky putty that keeps in pointing in a roughly northern direction. I’m often asked how far I’m gonna let it grow – and to be honest I don’t know, but it may need reining in if some employer see’s the light and actually gives me an interview – but we’ll cross that bridge as and when. For those reading on the blog – and via Farcebook – I’ll get a decent up to date photo put up at some point.
So, the wedding. Time for a bit of background first. We met Steve soon after we moved down to Brighton and he was a regular at our various get togethers. Prior to our St Georges Day party in 2010 a rumour started circulating that Steve would, this time, be bringing someone with him. ‘Who is she?’ was the most asked question although ‘Who is he?’ was muttered too. Well it is Brighton and those damn homosexuals are everywhere these days you know! Well, on the afternoon of the party, Steve appeared with this lovely northern lass called Louise who he’d met whilst indulging his passion for diving. We didn’t know she was from ‘oop north’ straight away because, having been propelled somewhat reluctantly in to a strangers garden, full of strange people (some of them VERY strange I can assure you) she was too terrified to speak. This state of affairs that was not to last long however. Jane appeared with a large glass of wine and steered Lou down to relative privacy at the end of the garden to find out what the score was. This did the trick, but no sooner had Jane returned with Lou, who was by now a lot more relaxed – and carrying an empty glass – than it was Steve’s turn for a grilling at the hands of Jane’s husband Tony. After that, Lou undoubtedly became ‘one of us’ – no not in that sense – and mutterings soon started about wedding bells, mainly from Jane and Trev., At the time, Steve was adamant that he would not get married, but, out of the blue, the announcement was made just over a year ago, and here we are.
A wedding today, is a production and every production needs a rehearsal. Lou had asked me to read a poem at the wedding so Friday evening we gathered at the church for a practice. The usual incumbent of St Nicholas’ Church, Father George was unable to officiate due to illness so a replacement had been drafted in. Very young (at least for a Rev.) but with energy and enthusiasm, Father Christyan James made us all feel at ease. Lou’s niece Chloe and Steve’s God daughter Lana had been persuaded to read a prayer and he even advised them that they could change the words if they wanted. I liked his style! The rehearsal went well. I read my mercifully short poem adequately, the “do you take’s and “I do’s” were practiced and we all headed off a little more prepared for the next day.
One of Jane’s son’s – Ash, and his partner Stu would be staying with us for the weekend and they arrived from London later that evening. It’s always nice to have younger people in the house (well, young compared to me and Trev anyway), moreover, they don’t sit glued to Emmerdale and Corrie or demand Tea every five bleedin’ minutes……a certain mother-in-law take note.
Saturday and the big day. We were to help set up the hall opposite the church and arrived to find the place already a hive of activity. The Caterers were setting up the hog roast and the bar whilst we helped arrange the tables and chairs. Tony put his years of military training and experience to good use by ensuring the chairs and tables were dead straight – and they were too. Things seemed to be going smoothly until, whilst me and Steve were playing with the stage lights in preparation for the bands arrival, Trev noticed a mistake on the seating plan. Whoever had designed and printed it (for a significant recompense it should be pointed out) had basically got it arse about tit. We rushed off to print some replacement labels to stick over the top, and whilst it didn’t look perfect, it would serve it’s purpose.
Soon it was time to get showered and changed. I eschewed the usual suit option as one had been worn far too many times this year for the wrong reasons. A rummage through the wardrobe produced a velvet frock coat and black patterned waistcoat that rarely saw the light of day, and even then only on cruise ships. Combined with grey trousers, white shirt and silver tie with a collar pin they looked all right though.
The church was only just up the road so we walked – the sun was just about holding out but it was getting windier. We called in to the hall where the band was setting up and all was going well. Over at the church guests were already taking their seats, so we joined them, and soon the place was packed. I had agreed to video the occasion and so was one of the first to see the bride as she pulled up to the church in a lovely old black and grey Morris something or other. She looked stunning and relaxed – and so did the bride….
The whole ceremony went very well. The vicar put everyone at ease, not least Steve and Lou with his relaxed, easygoing manner. He welcomed us all but joked that he was unable to give any marital advice to the bride and groom as he only lived with his dog – whereupon someone muttered that he must be dyslexic – think about it.
The rest of the ceremony continued in the same manner. Jane read from Corinthians and sounded fantastic. I read the poem – whose title I am unaware of even now – rather nervously waiting for the expect bolt of lightning to appear from above. The stars of the show though – apart from the bride and groom of course – were Chloe and Lana. They read the prayer confidently and without exhibiting any signs of nerves whatsoever. They really did very well.
With the service over I darted to the entrance to catch husband and wife walking down the aisle, almost knocking over the official photographers tripod and camera in the process. Soon, we were all outside and milling around whilst the official photo’s were taken.
Well, to be fair, we let others do the milling. Me and Trev, decided that a little quality control needed to be exercised and headed across to the hall to sample the ale. Clearly this broke the ice because there was soon a steady stream in the general direction of the bar.
The reception was a great. Each table was named after a dive location in Egypt and we were grouped with our neighbours. The volume in the hall rose as wine was glugged and plates clattered. Deserts were savoured, and then Tony – one of two Best Men delivered a fantastic speech. Trev was then handed a microphone – a phrase that would ordinarily strike terror into those that know him – and passed around the hall for guests to give the happy couple their best wishes. Embarrassing stories can be revealed during this sort of thing, but sadly, there weren't any….
The band were almost ready and tables needed to be moved to make room for the dancing later on. This seemed like the perfect time to nip home, have a coffee and get changed , which we did. I donned my usual black shirt, tie and leather jeans. A get up more suited to a nightclub or darkly lit bar than a wedding but what the heck. I somewhat reluctantly left the trench coat at home – I didn’t wanna scare the kids.
The evening do was even more fun. The band sounded fantastic and we all worked hard to make sure that the caterers had to pack up as little booze as possible. Hot sausage and bacon rolls were handed around and helped refuel those that were dancing – of which I was one. I make no apologies for being a ‘wedding’ dancer, but the band didn’t play any of the Bee Gee’s disco classics so no-one got their eyes poked out.
So, that’s it. It was a fantastic day and it was great to be part of it. Steve and Lou looked relaxed throughout the day and genuinely happy together. Steve, having not been interested in ‘that marriage lark’ for so long looked all day like the cat that had got the cream. Good luck to them.