Did anybody know where the nearest Renault garage was? Pat enquired of the fellow members of our Nomination Whist group at the end of yesterday's session. There were blank looks all round.
Ever helpful, I grabbed the Us-Pad and checked with my Best Friend Forever, Google. It turned out that the nearest Renault garage was - guess where - at the end of our road. This is called concentrating too much attention on the wider world and failing
to notice what is right underneath your nose.
It was much the same story ten years ago today in Hook Parish Church when the Youngest of the Darling Daughters married her Dave - known to some of the younger
members of the family as "Uncle Dunk'em Dave" on account of his antics on Family Seaside Days.
The weather today may be cold and cloudy but ten years ago it was sunshine all the way. A truly perfect day for
a wedding. The church was packed with family and friends who had turned out to wish the happy couple well. It was a large church and my daughter had worried beforehand that it would look a bit, well, empty, given that she wasn't planning a Big Wedding. I had
no such fears. I was pretty sure, knowing how popular the family was in the village, that there wouldn't be an empty seat in the house. Sorry, the church. After all, lots of school-friends would be wanting to see Young Jack (then aged 7) who was to be his
Dad's Best Man, and five year old sister Hazel, the Chief Bridesmaid. "Actually," Jack told the wedding party in his memorable Best Man's speech, "She is the only bridesmaid..."
We'd had so much fun preparing
for the Big Day, my daughter and I. The Middle of the Darling Daughters was in charge of wedding invitations while I created a children's version of the Order of Service, complete with puzzles inside and Jack and Hazel's drawings on the front. I hadn't thought
through the logistics until almost too late, but it dawned on me that pencils would be needed. Not many Mothers of the Bride would have the sharpening of fifty pencils on their list of "Things To Do" before the wedding day.
Nobody knew, except the closest family, that my daughter and her fella wanted to walk down the aisle together, with their children. This meant that Mr B had to forego that precious moment, special to every father who has experienced it, of walking his
daughter down the aisle and giving her away. Few are the fathers who would put their daughter's wishes first, I suspect, and I have never loved Mr B more than I did that day for his generosity and love. There was not a dry eye in the house as the Baldwin family
walked down the aisle together.
I was honoured indeed to be asked, along with the Mother of the Groom, to give a reading at the wedding service. Mine was an excerpt from one of my favourite books, Captain
Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres:
"Love is a temporary madness,
it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.
And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should
Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion.
Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches, they
find that they are one tree and not two."
The Mother of the Groom then read that beautiful passage about love, from 1 Corinthians chapter 13. Together we left our respective lecterns, bowed before
the altar, turned majestically in all our wedding finery and moved forward in unison towards our seats. At this point, once again completely failing to notice what was right under my nose, I caught my heel on the top step and fell into the congregation, causing
My eldest grand-daughter thought I had died. The bride was about to call off the wedding and to cart me off to hospital, still wearing her wedding gown. Mr B, however, was My Hero, breaking
the worst of my fall by stretching out both arms and catching me before I fell in a crumpled heap on the floor. All I could think of was that I had only gone and spoilt everything.
This epic fall has been
captured for posterity on the wedding DVD, though the Youngest of the Darling Daughters always has to fast forward through this bit because she can't bear to re-live it. Her husband likes to watch it over and over again while threatening that one day I will
be a star turn on You've Been Framed. The current reward for those embarrassing moments which make it onto the TV screen is £250. I think my Son in Law reckons it may be worth holding out for a larger pay-off. I think it's called blackmail...
Despite my fall from grace, there never was a happier wedding day. The Best Man and the Chief Bridesmaid summed it all up when they recited:
We're very glad
This is your Wedding Day.
We wish you love,
We wish you laughter,
We wish you Happy Ever After."
Happy Anniversary dear Karen and Dave. Ten years on. How time flies when you're having fun.