Tuesday, August 29, 2006


My Weekend: Weddings, nudity and thin hotel walls...

My weekend away was hugely entertaining, as I hoped it would be. I am rarely let down by my friends and relatives, who provide me with a constant source of amusement and good times. I headed down south on Friday evening, avoiding the catastrophe that is the M6 at rush hour. However, I hadn’t bargained for the eternal disaster that is the Birmingham stretch. In all my time at Birmingham University (1999-2002) the bit of the motorway around junction 6 was permanently being worked upon. And now it seems that they are doing it again. I reckon a sizeable phalanx of road workers could retire off that stretch of the M6 alone!

Spaghetti Junction seems less of a marvel than it once was. When I was younger and we drove past, I distinctly remember it actually looking like spaghetti, with at least a hundred winding over-passes and motorways. Nowadays, with adulthood sweeping away my childish exuberances, it seems like there’s little more than a dribble of concrete flopping limply over the motorway. I hope someone can tell me that, somewhere between about 1992 and now, at least three dozen roads in the area have been destroyed. Either that, or being an adult is a lot less wondrous than being a child.

On Saturday I went into London, arranging to meet a friend for lunch, followed by an afternoon in the park with my Dad. We don’t see one another very often, and the conversation this time round was a deeply disturbing story about his recent escapades on a naturist beach in Brighton. Whilst I don’t begrudge him his freedom to wander naked along whichever part of the South coast he lawfully chooses, there is something almost indescribably horrific about hearing my own father’s tales of clothes-free shenanigans. Especially since I am his son, and therefore genetically pre-disposed to emulate his feats. Whilst I can grudgingly accept baldness, if my genes think they’ll have me prancing nude around Brighton in thirty years time, they’re wrong.

Anyway, from my London nightmare to Ware (where?), and the wedding. It turns out that the relative of Tam’s concerned was a man named Matt, and his bride a girl called Charlotte. And a very nice wedding it was too. The ceremony was in a lovely old house with glorious gardens which we wandered around during our stay. I’d love to get married one day, but have a real fear about cracking up during the vows. Even now I find them quite amusing, and have a real urge to giggle sometimes. I think it’s a nervous thing with the silence, but there are a number of things that I find amusing and that, if I was starring as the Groom and was stood there with my Bride, I know that we as a couple would find hysterical too. I’d have to really try and hold it together. There’s the “no lawful impediment” bit, where someone always seems to cough at the crucial moment. Then there’s the part I lovingly refer to as the “Alf Garnett” element of the ceremony, where the Minister recites the names of a string of sit-coms “In Sickness and In Health… Til Death us do Part…” and all I can think of is Warren Mitchell screaming at Tony Booth.

I have been to a number of weddings recently, and there is an awful lot of hanging about in between the various elements. I reckon there’s money to be made in hurrying the whole process along a bit. If we could be ushered with urgency from ceremony to photographs to meal to speeches to exit, the venues could probably get three in in an afternoon, and the whole thing would be a damn site cheaper for the punters. As it was we stood around shivering on the grass, digesting our own stomachs waiting for the food.

We stayed in the annex next to the old house, which used to be a conference centre and training venue, and thus had the requisite furniture (depressing pine desk, tiny TV purchased in bulk from ex-Soviet republic, pressure-free shower etc). Our room was groan-inducingly bad. I would like to congratulate the owners of the hotel for managing to fit a 4’6” bed in a room precisely 4’7” wide, and also in constructing walls so spectacularly thin that their ability to prop up the ceiling was remarkable given their ability to transmit even the most miniscule outside noise directly to my ears.

That’s it for my summer of weddings. We don’t have any more planned for a while now. I was glad to get back to Prestwich last night, but was back in work today. Three day weekends are great, but the worst thing about them is that they end.


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