8 months, 1 day; still sober.
For those of you who logged into my web site before I corrected the mistake, you will know that in spite of eight months sobriety, I still can’t count, as I have only been sober for 8 months, not 9 months as earlier published. It is so hard to count up to twelve!!
Last Saturday was the BIG day – indeed it was the sole reason why I broke my voluntary-exile of 6 years from my native shores , and also the reason why the Mobi clan gathered in force from all corners of the known world to the tiny, picturesque village of Barnwell, in the centre of rural England.
Yes, Saturday, 27th August was the wedding day of my beautiful, younger daughter, Samantha, to her beloved Rod.
Natalie, Abe and myself set off at around eleven for the hour-long journey from Nuneaton to Barnwell and we stopped at my friend’s house in Barnwell village to drop off my bag, (I would be staying there after the wedding), and for Nat to change into her wedding togs.
Thence, to the ancient St Andrews Church at the far end of the village, where there was already a large crowd a-gathering.
It was a bit of an odd situation. Traditionally, the father of the bride accompanies the bride to the church in a typically smart looking vehicle, before escorting her down the aisle.
But I had learned a few days before the wedding that Samantha would be staying with her mother on the night before the wedding and that she would be driven to the church by her new step-father, and would be accompanied by Noi, my ex-wife, the mother of the bride, who had re-married a few years ago.
As I had played zero part in the wedding arrangements, I was really in no position to question this arrangement, and even if was entitled to, I had no intention of casting anything resembling a shadow of conflict on what was going to be the happiest day in Samantha’s life.
Nevertheless, I did find it a little uncomfortable, and not knowing what to do while we waited for the bride to arrive, I wandered, camera in hand, into the church, where none of the ushers knew who I was and were on the point of having me ejected, when the Mobi clan, who were all gathering on the left side of the aisle, spotted me and welcomed me to their bosom. I started to greet relatives I had not set eyes on for many years, but felt uncomfortable and after a few minutes of smiles and ‘hellos’ I wandered back out to the church entrance to await the arrival of my daughter.
It was a warm, sunny day, but on the stroke of one, when the ribbon be-strewn BMW drove up to the outer gate that led the church entrance, the puffy clouds darkened a little and there was a sprinkling of rain. It was almost as though that Great Power of the Universe had ordained that Sam should be suitably anointed from the heavens before her big day commenced.
Noi and her husband alighted from the car, leaving Samantha and her single bridesmaid to get out from the back seat. The bridesmaid emerged first, leaving Samantha to finally grace the occasion in a beautiful, flowing white bridal gown that completely took my breath away. Her hair was up, and the strapless, low cut gown, fitted her shapely figure like a glove and the intricate silk tresses trailed several feet behind her.
She looked like a fairy princess and I had to fight the tears that were forming in the corners of my eyes.
An umbrella was produced, but it wasn’t necessary, as the sprinkle of rain had now ceased and Samantha took my arm as we made our way down the pathway towwards the church entrance. Noi, sam’s mother, and her husband, in the company of a small girl, had quickly disappeared into the bowels of the church.
When we reached the church door, Sam and I chatted to the Vicar for a few moments, awaiting the “Lady Noi’, to take her place in the front pew along with her little runt of a hubby and the mysterious little girl. Then the wedding march commenced, and, unusually, we were led by the charming priest down the aisle for the commencement of the ceremony.
It turned out that the little girl with Noi, my ex, belonged to a neighbour and she had clearly brought the kid with her so that she could put on a little side show, as she always wants to be the centre of attention, and her daughter’s wedding would be no exception.
I sat one seat away from her new hubby and two seats away from her, but neither of them would meet my look or make any attempt to even nod, let alone say hello. Bitterness and resentment holds no bounds in the minds of those with a mean spirit. I smiled inwardly to myself, for I now know that the only person who she was hurting was herself, and nothing would please me more than not having to make an effort to acknowledge her existence, which in the interests of the family, I would have been more than prepared to do, if she had met me half way.
The wedding ceremony was, as ever, beautiful and emotional and being the baby that I am, I had to fight off tears at several points during the wedding vows.
While the marriage registers were being signed and witnessed, we were treated to a couple of arias by the Barnwell village church choir, who, bless’em, this time managed to sing almost in tune. Quite unlike the previous occasion when they performed at Natalie’s wedding, when they really did sound a bit dire – or least they did when I played it back on my video and I ended up having to dub a real choir over the live video sound track.
The heavens had truly opened during the hour long ceremony, but as soon as the bride and groom took their walk back up the aisle as a married couple, as if on cue, the rain stopped and the sun emerged. It was quite magical.
Dozens of family photographs were then taken in the lovely little churchyard, bride and groom, best men, (there were 2 of them all smartly kitted out, along with the groom in morning suits!), bride’s family, Groom’s family and so on and so forth…. You know the form….
Then the short drive to the wedding breakfast venue; it was the Chequered Skipper, located in the picturesque village of Ashton, whose main claim to fame is that it hosts the annual world conker championships.
Around 60 of us sat down to a wonderful feast and then, when we were all suitably replete, it was time for the speeches. I had prepared my speech some weeks before and had downloaded it onto my 7 inch tablet as it seemed to be a great way to read out a speech – a sort of hand held Teleprompter.
Things went fine for a while and within a minute or so I had the entire gathering in stitches. I had intended to make my speech comical, but I had no idea how funny it was going to be until I tried it out live, on a partly pissed, very happy audience. It really did exceed my wildest expectations, and before long I had them eating out of my hand to such an extent that even the odd serious sentences were met with hoots of laughter. I could do no wrong.
Then, disaster struck. I had started to get carried away and was subconsciously scrolling my tablet screen when all of a sudden I had lost my place and as I tried desperately to find it, horror upon horror, the speech completely disappeared!!
But all was not lost, I confessed to the assembled that I had lost it and they stayed with me for the few seconds it took to recover it, but then I had to scroll back though the speech to find the place I had got to. Within seconds this became another ‘hoot’. I read out parts that I had already covered, and they laughed and told me ‘not yet’ and so I went through back through it all – it was almost like a fast forward – and by the time I found the right pace, once again everyone was highly amused.
At long last I neared the end and it befell on me to give some advice the newly-weds, and I reprint below, what I said:
“…..Finally, before I make the toast, it falls upon me, as the bride’s father, to offer a few sage words of advice to the happy couple. But what advice can I – a man with a distinctly dubious reputation in this regard – possibly give to this happy couple, who have already been together for four long, happy years?
The only thing I can say to you, Sam and Rod, is:
‘Always follow your heart, always think of your partner before yourself and whatever else you do, never – ever – follow the example of your father and you won’t go too far wrong.”
For you two have already been together longer than I have ever succeeded in making a marriage last…
So, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, it is now my pleasure to propose a toast to the happy couple. Please be upstanding and raise your glasses to the bride and groom: Samantha and Rod! “
In spite of what some of you may think, I really don’t enjoy blowing my own trumpet, but when I am writing a blog about my life, then sometimes I have to do just that so that my readers can truly understand what is happening. So I will just say that when I ended my speech, it would not be an exaggeration to say that I really ‘brought the house down’ – the applause was truly deafening. As I made my way back to my seat, and indeed throughout the rest of the evening I was bombarded with congratulations, and people telling me how much they had enjoyed it. So at least I did something right for a change, and I am very glad, for frankly, I had been very nervous and was terrified that I would screw it all up.
But no, I was not tempted to have a celebratory drink.
The groom and then the two best men made their own little speeches which also went down very well and then it was time to take a short break before we all met up again for the evening’s wedding fun.
Most of the guests sat around at the tables outside on the village green and continued their drinking while I took a walk around the picturesque village and took some photos of the lovely thatched cottages that border the village green. Then it was back to the Chequered Skipper to chat with guests and await the evening festivities to commence, which was to include a loud band and disco. Thirty more young guests were expected to join the dinner crowd, so it was going to be a pretty wild party.
So I spent an hour catching up with family and a few friends that I hadn’t seen for many a year, and in particular my elder sister and her husband who had flown in from South Africa, their two sons and their wives who are now living in the UK, my brother, his wife and his daughter, her husband and her daughter, (my great niece). Then there were my two first cousins, a male and female, the offspring of my mother’s sisters, and of course, my two now married daughters and their spouses.
My family, like all families I guess, are a bit weird and I am sure we have our full dose of ‘skeletons in our closet’ (well, me, for starters), but I have to say they are all great bunch of folk and we all get on so well together. There is no back biting, no jealousies or resentments, and no grudges over ‘will bequests’ or anything else of that nature. I guess I am just lucky.
As dusk started to fall, my hosts for the next few days, a couple of life-long friends from Barnwell arrived and they had a couple of drinks with me and my family. Just after 9 pm I decided to call it a day, and I made my farewells to the assembled multitude. Wild disco parties, where everyone would undoubtedly be letting their hair down and getting pretty pissed was no longer my scene, and it was time for this ageing reprobate to bow out.
I am not sure if I will see Samantha again before I leave back to Thailand as the following day she was off on her honeymoon, so we had a long, tearful hug before I climbed in my friend’s car for the journey back to Barnwell and the end of a very long and fairly stressful day. I was exhausted but very happy.
I just can’t believe my good fortune. In spite of having a psychotic, control freak of a mother and an alcoholic father, we seem to have raised two of the most wonderful daughters any parents could ever have, and I am so proud of them. I can’t think where they got their beauty, brains, common sense and kind, generous natures from. It must have been the milkman.
There is nothing I would like better than to publish all the wonderful pics that I and others took of the wedding day. The bride is beautiful and everyone was dressed up to the nines for the special occasion. But, as most of you will know, I write this blog using a pseudonym and all the names are changed so that they cannot be identified. So in keeping with this, I am unable to show you any of the real wedding stuff and you will have to be content with the few odd ones below, together with a few I took on my walk around the lovely village of Ashton, where faces of the main participants cannot be discerned.
I spent the next three nights with my Barnwell-based friends, who are both octogenarians, and we spent hours and hours catching up on old times and relating all experiences since last we were together. It was a relaxing and therapeutic couple of days; I was well looked after and very happy to be there.
On the bank holiday Monday we drove over to the village of Stilton, (yes where the cheese is made), and had lunch at the famous old coaching inn, The Bell, before taking a nice little trip around the surrounding east Northamptonshire countryside.
Late last Tuesday evening, Nat and Abe turned up to take me back to their house in Nuneaton, where I am now ensconced and I will be here until Sunday when we all go back down south to the grand Mobi family party. All the relations I met at the wedding, plus one or two more, will be descending on my brother Sid’s house in Tonbridge for a grand family barbeque. Poor Sid and Jane are going to have their work cut out.
As some of my family may be reading some of these UK based episodes in my blog, I thought I might go a bit easy on the scantily clad damsels, but for those who still like a pretty Asian face, here are a few that you may find pleasing on the eye….
BUTT…BUTT…BUTT… I don’t give a hoot…