For those who asked, or wondered, here are the bits and pieces relating to the wedding or to what comes next. Most importantly, the Lovely Baby (as Anne calls him) is due on September 19th. If he is anything like his father, he will be very late, giving his mother the longest twelve days of her life, then arrive complaining of being very tired and sleep for three weeks.
The wedding was just lovely. The previous day and the morning of the wedding were not quite so lovely, and involved a lots of last-minute running about, frayed nerves and volatile emotions, deliveries of cake and decorations, creating buffet food for the planned picnic in the park later on (“there’s no more room in this blasted fridge!”), and the future mother in law, realising with some despair that not only was she not going to have time to visit the hairdresser as planned for a wash and dry, but that she would not have time to do it herself. Or find her lipstick. The lipstick that might have distracted from her lack of jewellery, that was sitting on the dressing table back home….. In years to come, when the wedding photos are resurrected, there may be murmurings of how very old and worn the mother in law looked on the big day, and they would be entirely accurate.
The bride’s stepfather, who happened to be over from Mexico staying with his old professor, was there, a charming man in a floppy green bow tie, who made the most beautiful speeches, quoted poetry, said exactly the right things at the right time, and cheerfully trotted off to the corner shop for the forgotten odds and ends.
We took some photos before setting off. Not very smiley photos, admittedly, but we did our best. No hats, no ties, what a relief. The bride wore red shoes.
The bride had curled her hair a little, and found it to be a total waste of effort in the heat and humidity. The Gardener took the groom to the post office to send off the last-minute work orders that had been stressing him the previous evening, made sure he had some breakfast while they were out, and generally ran last-minute errands and kept matters as calm as possible. That man…. everyone should have a Gardener when times are fraught.
Once we were all in the taxis and meeting up with friends for lunch at the gallery opposite Southwark Registry Office, we all became very smiley indeed, and started to feel decidedly happy.
After lunch (the bride tucked in: “The Baby is hungry!”), she and the groom moved to another table to rehearse their wedding promises, and then we trooped cheerfully across the road for the ceremony, grateful for air conditioning at last.
And it turned into the event it really was intended to be all along, small and intimate, relaxed and calm, just 12 of us there, old friends including the bride’s super-glamorous friend from their infant school days, who had flown in from Rome that day for the occasion. Her poor mother, not long home after spending sad days recently, attending her dying mother in Holland, could not come, choosing sensibly to travel from Mexico when the baby is born; my heart went out to her having to make the decision not to come, but everyone understood her reasons.
There were tears, of course, and not just from the bride.
As the groom’s mother, I kept being congratulated, and for the life of me can’t think why. Maybe for surviving the previous 24 hours and still being able to smile, without whining once about having to clip my hair back with a very unclassy hair clamp and having not a hint of eye shadow or lipstick to relieve the tired eye-baggy look. Everyone became somewhat dishevelled with the heat; one friend arrived unaware of the black marks all up her arm from the builders’ debris in her house, another had to keep checking that her outfit remained modestly in place with the safety pin she had to use, everyone’s faces gleamed and glistened, and our hair misbehaved terribly. And nobody minded in the least.
The Gardener took many photos and made sure the absent mother of the bride received them very quickly, which she did, with great joy; she is already planning a massive celebration in Mexico City for next February, and we know already that it will not resemble in any way a small gathering of twelve close friends….
The cake had to be a Victoria sponge. The bride had insisted on it, and nothing else would do. The future mother in law refused to make it, saying that it would be three days old by the time it was eaten, and anyway, bringing it from Somerset on the train, Tube and another train was not going to help freshen it up any. So the groom ordered one to be made by the artisan bakery next to his old workshop, and his talented friend made the Day of the Dead cake pops with which to decorate it. Please note the bride and groom pops.
After the wedding cake and champagne, everyone trooped off to the park, bearing all that was needed for a picnic; this would be followed by a gathering of many more friends later for beer and pizza in the pub, where the rest of the wedding cake would most certainly be demolished. The Gardener and I had already whispered that we would not be able to stay for this, as we had to cross London in rush hour for our train home.
And so we did, in boiling heat, to reach Paddington station where the temperature was around 95 degrees at 6 pm, and where many trains were delayed or cancelled because of railway tracks buckling in the heat. But we did get home eventually, too tired to think straight. The happy couple went off for a bucket-and-spade holiday at Rye /Camber Sands, and will soon be home to pick up where they left off, working flat out, waiting for the Lovely Baby to change their lives forever, and – hopefully – to feel that their wedding, haphazard and changeably planned as it was, had been a great success, and an auspicious start to their new family life.