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
December 27, 2013
The things that may help you get the jokes are that we must have all been going to my sister’s for Christmas (she has a dog called Bella), and our son was working in Waitrose on fruit and veg. The rest is self explanatory if you know our family. It will have been delivered as a toast at some point during the meal – so here’s to you all and hoping you are revelling in the festivities as much as he would have done.He will have enjoyed writing this and loved the performance and ensuing applause even more.
We are going to Bella’s for Christmas
With two cats and feral outside.
We’ll be joined by some moorhens and rabbits
And a drake with his beautiful bride.
There might be a fox and his vixen
But for sure a grey squirrel or two
They’ll be all sorts of birds there for Christmas
With an owl with his twit and too-woo.
The hostess the Duchess of Aga
Well known for her dressage of course
Will cook such a meal for those present
That Michelin would gladly endorse
The host with his corkscrew aready
Will serve us with wine that’s first rate
He’ll be aiming to please all our palates
And the Masters of Wine emulate.
Two princesses as well will be present
Both famed for their beauty and style
One princess is known for how quickly
She texts all her friends on mobile
The other princess is noted for acting
And attending general meetings of cast
Then afterwards impersonating old members
In a humorous and kind hearted blast.
An expert on food will be dining
So the hostess to me does allege
He’s acclaimed by the housewives of Ealing
As a darling on fruit and on veg.
It’s known that he straightens cucumbers
And polishes the fruit that’s on show
That he sucks out the juice from pineapples
Is something that Waitrose don’t know.
A couple well known in West Ealing
For the frontage of house fifty seven
Are also acclaimed for their rooftop
And how it got nearer to heaven.
They are also acclaimed for their kitchen
With more cupboards than most it is said
And their garden has impeccable decking
Plus a magnificent green painted shed.
So its a pleasure that all will be dining
And sharing the great festive fare
It makes for a wonderful Christmas
We’ll be ever so pleased to be there
I speak as one ancient old sailor
And for my wife who’s much younger at heart
She’s always so polite and so courteous
But I tend to spit and to….cough.
December 9, 2012
Would have could have should have
Today would have been Rosie’s birthday,
(Would have could have should have)
She would have been twenty three
(Would have could have should have)
But that bastard Mother Nature
Said it was not to be
But today is Rosie’s birthday,
In my head and in my heart,
She’s with us still in spirit,
In laughter, fun and art
She’s with us when we party,
She’s with us when we cry,
She’s with us when we celebrate
She’s with us till we die.
So fuck you Mother Nature,
Playing evil games and tricks,
You can’t take Rosie from us
She’s a memory that sticks.
A memory that’s palpable,
A memory that’s strong
And we’ll always celebrate our love for her
Because taking her was wrong.
I don’t believe in God and shit,
But if angels are forever
Then there’s one with sticky fingers
Getting everyone together.
Perhaps we’ll see you one day
At an afterlife event,
But in the meantime here on earth
You never really went.
We think of you and often
When we party hard and long,
When we play games around the table
Or hear a much loved song
We see bits picked out of bowls of food,
CDs not in their case,
And smile with fond remembrance
Of our cherished Rosie Grace
October 28, 2012
Another Ode, this time to my sister, a connoisoeur of doggerel generated by the family. I think she enjoyed it – she was in tears as is her usual emotional state when anyone says anything nice about her.
It is bizarre how non-tactile we are as family members. I am less likely to kiss her in greeting than an old work colleague. Even the children screamed with amazement the first time we did it (about 10 years ago). But it doesn’t mean we don’t care about each other. Just we weren’t brought up in a household that ever said ‘I love you’ or any other sentimental guff.
We had a turbulent relationship during our teens – she was out there, getting in to trouble with my parents whilst I was a few years behind and getting away with much much more. Oh what luck it is to be the younger child. But since we both left home and didn’t have to live together under the same roof we recognise each others strengths and rely on them. And get on really well. So, of no interest to anyone who doesn’t know her no doubt, but herewith a tribute to my sibling.
Ode on the Occasion of Kate’s 50th Birthday
On this auspicious date
To celebrate with wine and food,
The youthfulness of Kate
For aging isn’t something
That Kate cares much to do
She gets fitter, better looking
Than she was at twenty two
In childhood she seemed older,
Taking care to be so good,
And organising friends and me
Into a cycling sisterhood
Being sensible was her hallmark,
So she couldn’t believe it when,
She saw the film Pollyanna twice and
The girl broke her leg AGAIN.
From Scotland then we moved toWales,
She went straight to grammar school,
Where slowly but undoubtedly she
Started to be cool
My friends would tell me wide eyed tales
Of my sister’s latest antic
Of boys with bikes or bus or truck
No wonder Mum was frantic.
And moving swiftly on from then,
She left home at seventeen,
A gap year then to Uni
Where her Dad and Nain had been
Although English was her subject
Her forte seems to be
Making friends who’ve lasted through the years
From both home and from Uni
And then the world of work did call
With Marconi her first job
From training into personnel,
Or HR, sorry Rob.
Her loyalty and diligence,
And increasing expertise
Ensured her working life was full
As she moved around with ease.
In her twenties and her thirties
She seemed to have it all,
Enjoying country life indeed
From Kent to Dunstaball
An endless round of social whirls
With friends both far and wide
They spent their time just having fun
And learning how to ride
And of course that’s something she still does
The only family member yet
To win not one but two great big
First place red rosettes
As teens she’d sometimes slap me
“Just because I can”,
But she’s been a rock to lean on
When the s*** has hit the fan.
As an aunt she has been perfect,
Giving time, and love (and gifts)
The children all adore her
(No I’m not taking the pi**)
You are loyal, you are caring
You put others before you,
You have insight, sensitivity
And you know what’s right to do
You are modest, self-effacing
Well organised and smart
And now you seem much more relaxed
Since someone stole your heart.
So now please raise your glasses
And let’s really celebrate
The wonderful woman that she is
My elder sister Kate
This Ode is to Rachel, Rosie’s mum, for her 50th birthday which was a few months before Rosie died. It seems a lifetime ago in many ways. A wonderful, very happy time in the back garden of their home in Coldershaw Road.
I realise these Odes are probably much better if you know the person involved, and also if you can say them in your head to make the clunky rhymes work when they are a bit tenuous! And at their best when you hear them after copious amounts of alcohol…..
I put the ones I have copies of on here as a further personal tribute to the people I wrote them for, and a way of filing them electronically!
Ode on the Occasion of Rachel’s
Musical Birthday Celebrations
And so the time has come at last
To tell of Rachel’s sordid past,
To raise a glass, or nine or ten,
As we celebrate her birth again
A Sarf London girl and proud of it,
She was Brown child number three
The icing on the marital bed for
Joan and her Geoffrey
At 11 she wins a scholarship-
To public school no less,
Where her parents hope she will achieve,
Or at least will do her best
But no. She cannot take it seriously,
She prefers to muck around,
The only work she will put in
Is finding boys in town
But no matter, that is history
And she did study art
At Sheffield polytechnic
A place so close to her heart
We are aware of Rachel’s assets;
Big tits and mile-long legs,
But did you know she bartered them
For Cadbury’s crème Eggs?
Yes there was a price to pay
When flatmates they did score
A pile of luscious chocolate eggs
Was heaped outside the door.
A teacher now of special needs
Of naughty boys a-many
They clambered up the toilet doors
To watch her spend a penny
In Brum she met her one true love
She was completely wowed
A mortgage money lender
That was very well endowed
They moved to London Ealing,
Had Jake and then got wed,
But honeymoon was ruined
Coz John was ill in bed
Then Rosie came then Florence
They’d moved to Coldershaw
And we’d all become firm friends by now
And that’s 20 years or more
She’s always been essential,
The hub of every wheel,
The one who organises everyone
And every single meal
She rallies troops to gatherings
To days out here and there
You don’t fancy playing rounders ? –
Well tough she doesn’t care!
We have great times and laughter
Doing things the Rachel way,
She’s so organised and plans ahead
To make the best of every day
She has always loved our children
And been a huge part of their days,
Of walks, and parks and meals and school
And putting on of plays.
Her picnics they are famous
Gourmet meals inside a hamper
Her catchphrases they are many –
Altogether now- ‘Morning campers!’
She is funny, she is thoughtful
Doesn’t really get the hump
Will preface every photo with
One two three and Jump!
Her social life is legendary
To have coffee- book ahead,
She’s here and there, knows everyone
And this is what they said
She’s fantastic our friend Rachel,
She’s so loud and so much fun,
She’s really great to be with,
She’s really number one
She’s a little on the spectrum,
God help you if you leave some crumbs
On a surface she can see…
She’s giving, she is loving,
She is generous and kind,
She says she doesn’t like attention
But I hope she doesn’t mind
That tonight you are the centre,
The reason we are here
And we want to praise you to the hilt
And raise a glass of cheer.
Tragically family life was blown apart later that year when Rosie, Rachel and John’s middle child, died very suddenly. She was a wonderful young woman, only just 19 and on the threshold of life when she was snatched. She is with us always. A website dedicated to her , the charity the family have chosen to support in her name, and an ongoing blog is at www.rosidwyer.co.uk
In 2006 we spent a fantastic weekend in Warbleswick to celebrate the Maynards’ birthdays. Another excuse for an Ode! I can’t help myself sometimes. No one asked me to do it, but I insisted. Whether they wanted it or not. To be honest, I’m really not sure that they enjoyed it, but at least it was quite a short one so over in a couple of minutes. The need to know for this one is that one of Ian’s catchphrases as he says goodbye is “Always a pleasure, never a chore’.
Ode on the occasion of Ian and Christine’s 50th Birthdays
In April 1956
Two storks flew keen and eager
One dropped his load in the far North east
The other in Tredegar.
The Geordie lass worked hard at school
Was sporty and athletic
The Valleys boy was more concerned
His barber was pathetic.
And so he’d go to Cardiff,
For coiffure a la carte
I think that’s where the love of style
And Brand began to start.
A – level stress beset them both,
But both did try their best – er
And luck would have the two would meet
At campus there in Leicester.
Now student life was gay and fun,
And then came graduation
They both set off to London town,
The far south of the nation
They had it tough the first few years,
Crap neighbours, not much dough,
Then came the gifts of boy girl boy
Or Tim, then Hel then O
We’re here to toast your milestone
You’ve reached a golden age,
Where pension books loom large as life
You can’t read a single page
You are perfect party people,
Mixing charm with warmth and wit
With loyalty , integrity and
Taking no bullshit
So here’s to Ian and to Christine,
We couldn’t love them more,
They really are a pleasure,
And never once a chore.