I sat down, surrounded by a huddle of Kiwi’s, Irish and ‘the rest of us,’ to watch the bruising encounter between the Lion’s and the All Blacks in the 2nd test on Saturday morning, not in Wellington in New Zealand but in Bellmaclellan in the Galloway hills. With Guinness in hand and hopes high, I wasn’t disappointed. Nor were the 20 odd thousand Lions fans in the crowd at the game, including our intrepid tour party who have devoted themselves for the last two weeks to disproving all available medical advice that suggests 20 units of alcohol a week is a safe and proper level of consumption for adult men. It was though, as the great Duke himself said, ‘a close run thing.’ When Sonny Bill was sent off my Kiwi chum beside me dismissed the episode saying with laconic confidence, "13 would be a problem but 14; we can do 14." They so very nearly did. Had their goal kicking been in the same postcode as the posts they would have galloped away with a sensational win but the honours, for the match at least, were ours.
Whilst we spectators were congratulating ourselves on a successful but gruelling 80 minutes in the armchair my Godson stood up and said, “Right, I’m off to get married.” And so he did.
The two things which give us all unrestricted joy and happiness are the birth of a newborn and a good wedding. That is, unless you are my Godson’s father who was in a state of some considerable shock when he announced over a beer when we were in Northern Ireland together thirty three years ago, ‘She could have told me she was planning this. I mean, telling me after the event on the phone; it’s hardly fair.” Having calmed him down and lured him into a place of manufactured comfort with another half dozen beers he pronounced me ‘Godfather-to-be,’ for the new arrival. I am so pleased he did. The wedding on Saturday was an epic event.
We were almost a family at the wedding had not one of the Crumble Kids actually been at the match in Wellington. The rest of us enjoyed it though, arriving in typical family style; with individuality. It’s the old thing, ‘here’s a grid reference, be there at this time.’ Two arrived by plane, two by train, (with five minutes to spare), and I got to know the roadworks on the M6 really well.
Just as a gentle hint of guidance my Godson has not even a passing acquaintance with convention or tradition. It was in fact the very first ‘low carbon footprint,’ wedding that I have ever attended but I am pleased to report that the wine and whisky at a ‘low carbon event,’ tastes very much as it does everywhere else. And you get to know a whole bunch of Corbynista's you never met before. The arrival of the bride and groom on a Dragon Boat being hefted in to a solemn drumbeat on the foredeck, with a lone piper on the shore giving them a navigational clue as to where to head in the stiff breeze, was an indication of what was to come. The humanist service by the lapping waves of Loch Ken was a sensitive, emotional and happy one. I loved the toast at the end of the service from the Quaich, filled with a symbolic mixture of Irish and English whisky for example, reflecting the backgrounds of both. A particular highlight was the Groom's speech, (isn’t it always?). It is the first speech I have heard to the accompaniment of 130 Kazoos which were handed out to us for a sort of crowd-driven supporting act to what was a very original speech. We all thought we did really rather well.
As seems to be the way these days, the old script of father of the bride, groom and best man speaking went straight out of the window and it was becoming a bit like Saturday Night At The Palladium as more and more souls had their moment which would have been tedious had they all not been so blisteringly entertaining. None more so than the bride's 92 year old Grandma who had us all in her hand, speaking with grace, wit and charm. I absolutely embrace rewriting the wedding thing. Dare to be different. The Ceilidh was brilliant fun, the fireworks on the loch sensational and the swing……………. well that was something else.
Apparently you don’t have to drink your own body weight in red wine to have a bash but I found it gave me some uncharacteristic courage both on the dance floor and on the swing. What is the swing? Well, it’s just another run of the mill thing conjured up by my chum that you can enjoy at a wedding at his Galloway Activity Centre. How else do you celebrate a Lion's win against the All Blacks and your Godson’s wedding? Some souls are apparently suffering from the onset of PTSD having witnessed me flying through the air in a kilt at night....... it isn't very likely to happen again; I promise.