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Ode for Georgie and Danny

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:13256182_10207885660151748_2610582959794306566_n

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

 

 

A toast to absent friends

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.

The cake!

The cake!

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

Richard’s wife

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

I always love that question. Because the answer usually stops people in their tracks.

“He was the best man at my first wedding”. Firstly, most people are somewhat embarrassed to have brought it up, they don’t know what to say in the immediate aftermath. Then they have lots of questions but don’t want to be rude. Then they get over the bit about not wanting to be rude and ask away. And no, my first husband and I didn’t have any children together.

Of course the answer is technically true, but not actually accurate as I had met him before my initial, disastrous sham of a marriage. But it brings the house down and one does like to make an impact.

In fact I met him the day after I had got off with my first-husband-to-be. I was still a student and this guy was working and had a car. I was easily impressed. And he said he wanted me to meet his friends from Uni, so we set off. The way he talked about them I assumed they were going to be a couple of mates. Blokes. But they weren’t. They were a well established couple living in a flat in Sawbridgeworth. The man who-would-become-my-husband-once -the-first-one-had-got-out-of-the-way was in his slippers having been trimming his bush in the front garden. A scene so far from my student life I found it hard to believe these people were only a year older than me. But I liked him straight away. He was bright, clever, opinionated and funny.

I had whooping cough at the time as was doing paediatrics and had caught it from one of the children on the ward. I had been vaccinated as a child but vaccinations are not always 100% for life, and so I caught  whooping cough but felt remarkably well. Just sounded absolutely incredible. I would have  the classic coughing fit and then the huge ‘Whoop’ would resonate as I struggled to draw breath in as quickly as possible after my paroxysm (technical term for the bout of coughing).

And he gave me no sympathy whatsoever. No concern. Thought it was amusing and attention seeking. Which I liked. He did go on to berate the medical profession in its entirety for not being scientists, thinking they are God’s gift and the like, but I put that down to the sour grapes of a non-medically qualified research scientist 🙂

Over the next 5 years or so we spent much of our free time as a foursome. Me with my first-husband-to-be and he with his longstanding lovely girlfriend. People used to joke that we were better suited to each other than our current partners – and we did get on really well. But I went ahead and married The Two Timing Twat, oblivious to his obvious unsuitability.

Wedding day number one. MISTAKE  but a great best man!

Even on my wedding day the best man looked after me much better than the groom. Who was more interested in the football scores. (Blackburn drew with Brighton if I remember correctly. Not happy.) Best man fed me rum and cokes and talked to guests and ensured my parents had a drink.We continued to see each other as a foursome.  Lots of holidays together. Lots of weekends together. Lots of good times together.

Until TTTT left me. And I became single again. And turned to drink trebles or champagne and eat crisps and greek yoghurt. I was devastated. But thin. And eventually started getting back in the saddle which was a journey in itself.

Then the doorbell went and apparently I opened it with nothing on but an open dressing gown and a Pimms in my hand. It was late afternoon on a Saturday and my new lodger had  arrived. It was the man-who-would-become-my-second-husband.

The rest, as they say, is history.

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