After all the trauma, the ups and downs, the drama of our story together, the moment I had dreamed of was here.
Stunning isn’t the word. She was a vision, a dream, a wonderful, beautiful sight. A platonic conception of loveliness. Her beauty radiated from within; from the sparkle of her shoes to the fire of her hairpiece her beauty radiated like an aura around her. I though I might burst with joy
Slowly, they approached. I reached out to take her hand. She joined me at my side, the beam from her smile lighting up the room.
Bob began the formalities. He told us where we were (I think I needed reminding) and the order of the day. First up was Emily to read out the words from Bring Me Sunshine. A happy joyous song more poignant after being stripped of the melody.
Then I had to repeat after Bob the vows.
The tension in the room must have got to Bob somewhat because he looked at me and said,
“Tom repeat after me, ‘ I take you, Sarah,'”
“I take you, Sarah,”
” ‘To be my lawful wedded…. husband’ ”
“My lawful wedded…husband?”
A pause. Then a guest yelled out, ‘Wife!”
The place erupted. Everybody laughed. The tension evaporated. The videographer was ecstatic because the he said that clip would go viral.
The registrar, realising his mistake, told me to repeat the words, which I duly did. This time I took Sarah to be my lawful wedded….wife. Then after high- fiving Bob, it was time for another reading.
Then Hannah had her reading, then the four children stood at our side as me and Sarah promised to treat each of them equally as part of one family. At this point I was a complete mess.
Then we exchanged rings. Bob passed the ring to Sarah and she placed it on the tip of my finger. Bob leaned over to her and whispered.
“Now, try not to break any bones getting it on.”
I thought this was hysterical and eventually Sarah had to give me a dig to calm me down. It was a release from the agonising wait for the ceremony to begin. I think also I was experiencing what psychologists call “an episode” :- a sensory and emotional breakdown. Basically I had blown a gasket.
Then Bob explained that it was now his duty and indeed his pleasure to declare that we were now, officially, Man and Wife. We hugged, we kissed, we cried.
We left to the sound of ‘Bring Me Sunshine.’ This time sung by Eric and Ernie. And, as Morecambe and Wise crooned, we hugged our guests and retreated to the bar where the laughter and embraces continued.
Then the speeches. I said a few words of thanks then made a declaration of love to My Other Half.
Then Greg delivered a heartfelt fifteen minute master class in nuanced character assassination, intermingled with generous praise for Sarah and the children. Speaking without notes, he impressed everyone with his command if pace, pathos, rhetoric, and comic timing. Striking a perfect balance between anecdote and generic praise, between the personal and the universal, the highest praise I could give to his reminiscences would be to say that to enjoy this speech you didn’t have to say – you had to be there.
To sum up a Thirty year friendship in twelve minutes is not an easy thing to do. That everyone who didn’t know Greg was enraptured by his eulogy and was full of praise when it was over is testament to the quality of the content and delivery.
Unfortunately, he had to endure a few inarticulate heckles from some unpleasant family members who eke out their banal, feckless lives on a rotten sink estate. It’s unlikely they will take umbrage at this report because I doubt they can read.