AMs wedding day

first_imgIf you live in Hurstpierpoint, or one of the surrounding settlements, youget married in one of the quaint local village churches that run along theSouth Downs, and then you have your reception at Pangdean Farm. This is thesystem. It isn’t a system that is challenged or questioned in Mid-Sussex,it’s just what you do. And it works.AM rightly kept this tradition going and thus ensured, in his usualeffortlessy charming and relaxed style, that a seemless day of weddingfestivities would ensue.My journey back into another world, a softer and much nicer world, startedat a most typical country watering hole; The Bull, in the small village ofDitchling. The ushers and family of the groom met and were presented withtheir matching ties for the day, and rounds of drinks were repeatedlyoffered by all as a prerequisite to us turning back the clock once more.I find such group socialising events acutely painful and the exact moment ofre-breaking the ice particularly sharp. So, as an escape, I involved myselfin usherly duties and got to the church nice and early to prepare the ordersof service, the confetti box, and other such absolute wedding necessities.As I handed out the gently crafted cards to the guests on their arrival tothe arch of the church, it occured to me that I knew almost each and everyof the faces that came by me. A little older, a little warmer, with alittle more history, but on the whole, I was so glad to see that it lookedlike they had been ‘happy histories’, since we last met. The small group ofushers obviously regressed at every opportunity back into gleefully childishmoments but between these little treats mentioned much more matureexperiences that had passed in their lives. Their own weddings, the birthsof their own children, and moves around the globe. It occured to me thatthis was one of the first social gatherings where adult life was reallyunderway for all and that the travelling and ‘finding myself’ phases had allnow passed.Proceedings started at half past two, and being the wonderfully Englishaffair that it was; it was half past two, on the dot. The hymns weredelightful choices, the wedding party beamed in the joyous nature of theday, and we were off and running.I have know AM for a LONG time. During a journey of trials and tribulationshe has been a constant. As you reach your early thirties you think that youhave experienced virtually all of the emotions at their most raw andcutting. When those experiences come along and cut you that much deeper itis always a shock to the system. During his sermon, the priest spoke atlength, but most engagingly, of love. Now was a moment that I, and allthose who witnessed the service, saw in AM’s eyes a far deeper emotion thanhe had clearly ever experienced before.E, was the bride to dream of, and as she glided up the aisle, all werestunned by her beauty and elegance, and prayed silence. AM, of course,looked ahead and awaited her joining him, but as he turned to look at her,time stopped for an instant, and he was clearly dazzled by the moment and Eherself. He looked like a young boy, embaressed and shyed away by the greatpower and presence of an older and attractive woman, full of sensuality, forthe first time.Now was his moment and he was totally and helplessly in love. The groundmay aswell have risen from under his feet for himself and E and nothing inthe world had the power to take this from him. After the journey we allundertake, the journey of no guarantees and often cruelly broken promises,he had found his life partner, and he was cementing this relationshipinfront of a group of the most important and cherished people in his life.As the priest asked if anyone objected to the marriage, the silence and aweof the witnesses continued, and all were sure and backing him that he hadchosen the right path.As we, the congregation, exited the church, we were met by a dazzling earlyafternoon sun twinned with a refreshing breeze that wafted over us whennecessary. The weather was simply perfect. Now though, was that interuldeof standing-around style group-socialising before the saviour of the day;the food, and my favourite bit; the speeches. I was introduced to John TheTeacher and his lovely wife Zara who had a humour and manner specificallycrafted for English country weddings on sunny days, and we jumped in theircar and I guided them to the nearby farm at Pangdean. Awaited for us, asusual, like a Royal presession being carried out for the umpteenth time tothe exact T, was the proprietor Nickie Currie and her clockwork team.Clinking of glasses, rehashing of old but well tested jokes from our pastwas underway, and AM looked so relieved he could have almost gone and had aquick nap under one of the nearby apple trees. Life is good.Everyone from toddlers to oldies were cajoled, and photos were taken by anequally well used and trusted Sussex photographer so the day could becaptured on camera for AM and E. The bridesmaids were all particularlyattractive in their sweeping purple gowns, but as always seems to be the wayat weddings these days, myself and the other ushers were informed thus; thatthey were also all particularly married. Oh well…Time to go an eat – thank god!The tables were named after all of the places that AM and E had visitedduring their time together, so far. I was on a table by the name of ‘Luxor’and an accompanying card note left on the tablecloth, the ‘Luxor’ guestswere informed that this was where AM proposed to E. This then seemed like amost satisfactory table to be positioned on.Everyone apart from myself was a teacher or a partner of a member of thesaid and respected profession. AM had effectively taken the sportingdecision of leaving Dennis Nielsen (me), in charge of a group of newly comeout and delightfully happy and gentle gay people (the leftie teachers), butwith the challenge to me of saying ‘JUST TODAY, you are NOT allowed to eatANY of them!’ I took AM up on this both pleasurable and painful competitionand embraced everything positive and truly nice in AM’s key-workery crew.They truly were the nicest people on god’s earth and I ALMOST felt guilty,at times, for dedicating such a large part of my wharped life tounrelentingly taking the piss out of AM, who too, is equally pleasant, mildmannered, friendly, and inoffensive. ALMOST, I repeat.To my left sat John; a delicate, slightly nervous and softly spoken formerfurniture restorer, who turned back to his passion and vocation of teachingEnglish Literature, and in his opinions and life direction truly wishedgoodwill to all. To my right sat Kate, a colleague of John’s, whom works inthe same department of teaching. She advised me that Wuthering Heights isthe best book she has ever read and I lowered the tone but only once whendropping my guard and allowing her to know my rather clear and directnegative opinions on Shakespeare and his tiresome and heinously tediousworks.They were, and I’m sure continue to be, lovely people. Everything about andaround them was fluffy and curved and I was certain that at no point do theylie in bed, staring up at the ceiling in the moonlight, tormented byambitions that during the current desperate financial climate, being a pawnbroker is a great business model, and how can one set up a similar businessas soon as possible. Neither would they think that Greece shouldeffectively reposessed and asset stripped, themselves at the helm of allnegotiations. When, at times, AM, eyes filled with the bitterness ofmisunderstanding capitalism, has ranted about his pension not being as muchas he was promised by his government comrades, I have often looked at himand asked myself if anyone ever told him that mummy bah bah eventuallyleaves all the little lambs to feed and look after themselves. Yesterday,when meeting more of AM’s companions, I really found out that the answer tothat question is ‘no’. They see the world in EVER well meaning eyes andjust really believe that we can and WILL all get on and work together inthis life. A lovely attitude, but probably not that effective to live bywhen asset stripping Greece or setting up a pawn-brokers explicitlytargetted at old people.I think I have known AM’s dad longer than I have known the male departmentof the Elderly and Infirm. He takes the piss out of me more than I take thepiss out of AM and I too always revel in teasing him regarding the hugedecisions he has to make in his new-found work of local good-doing andofficialdom. He made a cracking little speech though, and told us someheart warming amusing stories about AM writing to Jim’ll Fix It and beingbeaten by his mum at badminton. Chuckles for all and a few cheeky privatejokes were shared for the amusement of a select few. Thanking you, ‘BigMac’.As the speeches finished and the tables were being moved aside, I made mydiscreet exit back into my life and world of reposessing Greece and thoughtto myself that AM is so happy. He plays badminton with his mum, he probablygenuinely believes that Jim may Fix It for him to play for his beloved WestHam and that mummy will never leave her little lambs to look afterthemselves.And who am I to ever try and tell him otherwise?AM and E, wishing you luck and love for evermore.Always,Ben xlast_img read more

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