Sword arch in the snow

Memories of T. the Sailor:

– the only 8-year-old in the world to start a sentence with the words “Bearing in mind that …”

– the teenage years: mind of a 40-year-old theologian, sense of humour that can only be described as clinically evil.

– the minor contretemps of a few years ago that almost killed him.

– and this weekend, a sword arch in a blizzard, upon the occasion of his marriage.

As his father-in-law later remarked, it was the snow that drew everyone together. We went up a day earlier than planned with one eye on the weather. 2 hours on the M25: could have been a lot worse. Kings Langley is a pictureskew little place in Herts just off the motorway, where every flat surface has a building on it and the rest is all slopes. I should really have thought a little harder before choosing to park on the quite steep road where the church is, as the snow began to fall … We got out eventually, but only by turning round and going deeper in to get out again further down the valley.
And so it snew and snew. We were inside so didn’t mind that much. The bride however was 40 minutes late, due to the hired Bentley not being able to get up one of those slopes to the house. (It was theorised she might have turned up but no one could see her against the backdrop: maybe the navy contingent could walk around a bit, and she might occlude one of them and become visible.) Eventually she walked from home, and they went away after in a Landrover.
The sword arch were the icing on the icy cake: nine brave men standing at attention as the snow piled up on their heads and shoulders, slightly dreamy expressions suggesting that inwardly they were a long way away in a warm and happy place.

But they snapped to attention at the right moment, and the newly wed couple walked through, and all was well.
The couple were meant to be heading off on honeymoon to Brazil from Heathrow today. I don’t think so.
This car was completely snow free when I parked it, three hours earlier.

It got us there safely, and then up another of those slopes to the reception, and then back home again today at a sedate 50mph down a mostly empty, 2-lanes-mostly-clear M25 and M40. Shame it’s only a hire car – looking forward with interest to seeing what the regular one can do for us next weekend.

Nice day for a Wycliffe wedding

Before today I don’t think I had ever actually heard the wedding march played at a wedding, outside episodes of Friends. The groom was a Brit, the bride was American and the service was a cultural hybrid. Apparently a key part of American weddings is the Installation Seating of the Mothers, which I also haven’t seen before, not even in episodes of Friends. Maybe it’s just a Baptist thing. They send the bridesmaids down the aisle, one at a time, like a couple of practice shots. Then the mothers are escorted in to take their places at the front, in case they are unable to do so themselves. Best Beloved murmured that it will never catch on over here.

Nor have I seen the bride holding her hands up in praise during a hymn before. But this was a Wycliffe wedding so it may be normal.

I always favour smaller weddings over large ones, because I know from experience that the smaller the possible guest list, the more attention you pay to inviting exactly the right people. You want them there. (Even if I did deduce we were on the B-list, only getting the invitation a fortnight ago, but obviously we were at the wanted end of the B-list.) Half the congregation were recently graduated students, suddenly finding an excuse for a reunion. People were happy, and the expression on the groom’s face when his intended appeared at the end of the aisle would have lit up the whole place on its own, with a little left over to power the microphones.

The bride’s brother delivered the address. I tried to picture my sister’s reaction if I had offered to do the same, and delivered a lengthy exposition of the various theological points contained within the reading. Actually, best left unpictured.

The service was in the college chapel and was the first wedding to be held there for six or seven years. The entrance to the chapel is officially through a pair of double doors leading in from the outside. They hadn’t been opened since the last wedding, and the Academic Administrator plus groom had to rugby charge to get them to shift.

Inside these doors is a space of a couple of feet, and then a pair of interior doors. These open easily, because during the last six or seven years this space has been used to store equipment. It had all been cleared away, so only the cognoscenti – i.e. most of the congregation, and me because my wife told me – knew the bride was making her entrance out of the A/V cupboard. And why not? She was a sound vision, ba-boom.

Always shoot hovering litter with a bow and arrow

At least, that’s the only interpretation we could come up with for this rather strange little graphic on the label of a bottle of Tango.

Or maybe it’s “Wait until it’s hovering over a bin, then shoot it with a bow and arrow.” Yes, that would be tidier. That must be it.

Said bottle was consumed at our table at the reception following the wedding of Best Man’s Ex in Swanage, which is really what this post is about. The weather was an extremely wet dry run for next month’s holiday in Ireland, but that doesn’t really matter when the proceedings were mostly indoors. Mostly. A brave attempt was made to congregate on the lawn outside the church where five or six gazebos had been pushed together. The problem with gazebos is that their sides slope and so they don’t really tile. Everyone was clustered into neat little squares and you couldn’t get from one to the other without another split-second drenching.

But, a lovely day with the children of both parties being especially supportive. Junior Godson proudly explained to us that now he has two step-parents and two real ones, which I think pleases his sense of symmetry (he was always the artistic one). I got alittle irritated at constant references to how BME had raised two boys on her own … Her ex is quite a good friend (as you might gather) and I know for a fact that he’s been as involved as he possibly can be. But it wasn’t actually her making these claims, just relatives/other guests, and anything that helps close that particular chapter and open a new one is just fine by me.

None of this silly giving away business, either: bride and groom entered by different and opposite doors, met at the foot of the aisle and walked up together. As it should be.