September 4, 2016
Our elder daughter got married this year. What a great day that was. I’d do it all again if we could. Both of them seemed so relaxed and happy that it infected the day with joy and love and laughter right from the start. Yes there were things we would have done differently -it’s not the norm to have the bride directing the driver using her phone for example, but it seemed to go really well and if the celebrations indicate the likely happiness of the marriage they are off to a bloody good start. They surely know they have a solid back up of friends and family wishing them well.
For most people the thought of public speaking is a near-death experience. But not for the Clarke family. We all spoke at the wedding. Invited or not. By protocol or not. Her brother did a reading during the ceremony, her father the traditional FOTB opener and Georgina herself paid tribute to those not with us in person, and to her new husband who she described as her ‘voice of reason’ and ‘in-house comedian’. What a fabulous balance to have at her side forever.
And he of course had to do the traditional groom’s speech which he delivered from the heart with aplomb – a far cry from the little boy so shy he hid under the table at his own birthday party. Quite a few lines from it appear as the soundtrack to their wedding video , which is five minutes of feelgood footage. The best men performed a lovely double act which rounded off the afternoon proceedings perfectly.
Georgie and Danny wanted something to acknowledge the evening guests’ arrival – to make them feel they were not simply an ‘add on’, but a real part of proceedings. So after the cutting of the most incredible cake made like a pile of their favourite books:
I delivered the inevitable Ode which I reproduce below. But after that came Natalie with a crowd pleasing sing along to a Spice Girls classic which she had rewritten just enough to suit the occasion but not so much we couldn’t instantly learn it and belt it out. Marvellous. How much both my parents would have loved it all.
Ode on the Occasion of Georgie and Danny’s Wedding
We’d like to welcome all new guests,
Reinforcements have arrived!
The ceremony’s over,
And the knot is duly tied.
The speeches were delivered –
And I won’t take up too much time
But I thought a little line or two
Should be spoken out in rhyme.
These lovebirds met when first at school
In Drayton, aged eleven
But despite the evidence here today
It was no match made in heaven.
Georgie didn’t really notice him
He was in to sports and stuff
On the other hand he noticed her
And thought her a bit of rough.
They met again in Birmingham –
Gatecrasher the clubs name,
The first kiss was on that dance floor.
Things would never be the same.
So now Georgie’s on a mission
She tracks Danny’s every move
Be it Fab or any other club
Georgie’s there to get the groove.
He’s hard to compartmentalise
Sporty but IT geek
Loves board games and the Arsenal
Organised with a creative streak.
He is loyal, he is thoughtful
And of course a technocrat.
No more “the youngest person starts” as
He’s got an app for that!
And Georgie, our Georgina,
A beauty we can see
But even greater than her stunning looks
Are her brains and empathy.
She’s always thought of others,
Works hard, and gets stuff done
She always likes to be informed and
Takes no shit from anyone.
She likes knowing what is happening
Exactly where she’s at,
And with Danny’s Excel genius
She’s got just the chap for that.
Together they are quite a team
They are tight, they’re strong, they’re true
They liberate each other
To do what they really want to do.
They’re fun, they like to socialise
To eat, to play, to goss
So raise your glasses one more time
For Ms Clarke and Mr Kloss
February 1, 2015
Last night we went to a Silver Wedding anniversary dinner. I still think that kind of thing belongs to my parents generation not ours, despite the fact we are coming up to our 27th. It just sounds so old. So settled. So near death. But then we are old. And I think I am perhaps turning that corner now where actually I see it more as being 25 with thirty years of experience rather than being in my fifties. But I digress.
This party was for friends whose wedding we went to all those years ago at the cricket ground in Canterbury. Although I have to be honest and tell you my memory of events is limited. And not because of alcohol, but because I was breastfeeding our middle one at the time who was four months old and hungry. Not being an ‘out and proud’ breastfeeder, and unable to do it discreetly, I spent most of the wedding locked away in a small room with her clamped to my bosom.
I missed my father’s speech (which will have been a highlight as he was a fabulous speaker and would have gone to lengths to try to make this one particularly good because it was for the daughter of my Mum’s best friend who had died some ten years previously and her husband only a year later.) However I did catch the groom’s speech which was fantastic. And last night he again stood up to say a few words but this time was heckled by his nearest and dearest throughout. It was a tough crowd last night!
We were in a gorgeous hotel in Oxford – the Old Parsonage – all Farrow and Ball, lovely textiles, great service, beautiful paintings everywhere. And we got a free upgrade so even better. Fifteen of us met for champagne and those conversations you have with people you haven’t seen for years and can’t quite remember their children’s names or ages. And the guests of honour were a couple in their eighties – they represented my parents and the brides’ parents as the wife was the final ‘gal’ in the triumvirate of our mothers who had lived together in Chester. And my goodness me they looked so well; nimble in both mind and body. Fantastic. I felt a pang for my parents and wished they were there.
We sat in our allocated seating and chose our meals and the wine and conversation flowed. The men moved round between the starter and the mains and we did a quiz about 1990 in pairs. I mention this for one reason only. Yes, you guessed it – the bride’s brother and I won. Whoop! I think it was getting the fact that Glasgow became the City of Culture is what clinched it for us; everyone else put Liverpool.
And then after the meal came a fabulous cake and the speeches. I do like the marking of an occasion with a speech or two. To take the opportunity to publicly thank or praise people. The happy couple both spoke as did their elder daughter. And, as my mother always said about my father, because he was forever up on his feet performing a speech or a poem, “There’s no show without Punch.” And in homage to his memory and wedding speech 25 years earlier, I delivered my Ode:
Ode on the Occasion of the Silver Wedding
My father did the wedding speech
I’m afraid this won’t compare,
But speaking’s in my family
And so I’d like to share…
I’ve known this woman
All my life,
From well before she was
Our mothers met at Cambridge
Where hers studied and mine courted,
Became teachers both together
And a flat in Chester sorted.
And when they had their children,
Although living far apart,
We knew the Ansteys were like cousins
Embedded in our hearts
I always loved her mother
The twinkle in her eye
Her warmth, her wit, her kindness
And a smile that lit the sky.
Her father was more serious
As Professor he was able
His favourite month was always May –
New British Rail timetable
But sadly both were snatched so young
When Ros was barely grown
Leaving her and Charles and young Louise
To grow up on their own
And just by then I think she’d met
Young Richard here – the charmer –
Her brother’s mate from College
His smile it did disarm her
They dated for a few years then
We thought they’d make it up the aisle
But no, their loving went on hold
As they thought they’d wait a while
For years it seemed they will – they won’t
Ros sometimes played the field
But then at last good sense prevailed and
Their marriage vows were sealed
And that was years and years ago
Twenty five to be exact
And here we are to celebrate
The survival of that pact
It’s no mean feat to get here
Marriage isn’t always fun
But you stuck it out through thick and thin
And tonight I’d say you’d won
You’ve won by having children
Who are cherished and adored
You’ve won by loving mutually
Who could ask for more?
You’ve won by sharing laughter
You’ve won by sharing tears
You’ve won by sharing history
For years and years and years.
You should be looking forward
The next innings of your troth
Another quarter century please
And happiness to you both
So charge your glasses – raise them high
Any drink will do-
And toast our love to both of them
Mr and Mrs Drew
January 29, 2015
I love parties. I love the meeting old friends, meeting new people, eating, drinking, dancing. Love the positivity about parties. People want to have a good time. And if they don’t, they shouldn’t come. Hosts provide the venue, the guestlist, maybe food, maybe drink,maybe music – but partygoers have an obligation to bring their party spirit and get stuck in. And get stuck in we all did. We went to a 125th birthday party. Not one individual’s birthday obviously, but the combined ages of two friends.
And what a lovely party it was; friends and family in their open plan kitchen – mountains of food, fizz and a playlist that had everyone up on their feet. One of their children gave a lovely tribute, and both responded with their usual warmth and generosity. I, of course, churned out an Ode…
Ode on the Occasion of the 125th
So here we are all gathered round
To celebrate two dates
The birthdays of these two young pups,
Our fabulous two mates.
There’s Gerald, Mr Stevens,
Half English and half Mick
Brought up in lovely Twickenham,
But born in Hampton (Wick?)
And Julia, lovely Julia,
Half English and half Jock,
She couldn’t wait to leave old Kent
And don a nurse’s frock
Now Gerald loved adventure
‘Over the wall’ to overseas,
An economics graduate
He wandered as he pleased
Returned at last and set to work,
In computing – he adored
His universal knowledge makes
Him Ealing’s motherboard.
Meanwhile our lively Julia,
A student nurse at George’s
Spent most time dating different lads
She could – she’s bloody gorgeous
They were worlds apart but then one night
Nurse Mary thought she would
Take Gerald to a party and it
Changed their lives for good.
They met across a crowded room,
To the booming strains of Wham
He looked long and deep in to her eyes and
Said “I am your man.”
“But we’ve only met this evening,
There’s so much that is unknown”
But Gerald pulled her close and said
He could fix her pleasure dome.
A whirlwind courtship then ensued
Engagement and a marriage
Bet Julia did the organising and
Gerald arranged a carriage
They moved to leafy Hanwell
The same year the birth of Richard,
Their first joyous gift from heaven
Then Edward three years later,
And Bella number three
Their love and pride exemplified
In their perfect family.
They’ve always loved to socialise
Their friends are far and wide
Dinners, picnics, parties
Their arms are open wide
Julia is a stop out
Be it theatre, dance or bars
Whereas Gerald has much expertise
In doing up old cars
They are giving, they are thoughtful,
Their hearts are made of gold
So here’s to birthday 125
Who knew they were so old?
Please raise your glasses, sound a cheer,
Let the trumpets sound a herald,
A toast to two most magnificent folk,
Our Julia and our Gerald.