BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND
I went to a wedding at the weekend. The sun shone, the sky was blue and I had a marvellously exciting time.
Oh, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I have been looking forward to this wedding for, what seems like, ages and, as I rarely tell you about my life, let me back-track a little.
The event has been marked on my calendar ever since my neighbour traipsed round to my house, two months ago, with an invitation card in her hands and a pleading look in her eye.
“ I’ve been invited to a wedding,” she smiled, as I stood in the kitchen, folding a heap of ironing. ” But I don’t want to go on my own. Will you please be my “+1″ ?”
Now, I know exactly how she felt. Kate is recently divorced and, from what I have heard, it was one of the goriest, ‘knock down…. drag ’em out‘, uncompromising divorces in history. Well, I took pity on her; it took me a long time to get used to going places, on my own, when my own marriage broke up.
” Tell you what, Kate,” I replied, ” Why don’t you stay for dinner ? I have a huge steak in the fridge. It’s far too big for one. You can give me all the details and I will see if I’m free !”
So, she perched on a stool and I shoved a few salad ingredients in front of her. She chopped and chatted while I got busy, smearing the meat with one of my ‘secret recipe’ pastes and searing it in a skillet. When the food was ready, we sat at my scrubbed-pine, kitchen table and began to eat. Kate handed me the ivory and gold card, it was heavy and expensively embossed and had a photo of the engaged couple at the top, a delightful and innovative idea. I studied it carefully, turning it over thoughtfully.
“ The bride-to-be is an old school friend,” Kate explained, “She has always been a career woman, but now it seems she has found the man of her dreams…… “
I nodded and, noting the venue was a very expensive hotel in the Lake District, I smiled and said,
“My goodness, how wonderful, I’d love to come !”
Kate was thrilled , ” I’m so glad, Rosie. I couldn’t bear to go on my own. But I’d love to see Charlotte again. It is all being held in a Hotel, not a church, because Charlotte is an …an..er aorist !”
I raised an eyebrow and, giggling, said that I thought she probably meant ‘atheist‘ !! Dear Kate, she always makes me smile.
Well, as you can imagine, two months is not a lot of notice when you have to find ‘the’ perfect outfit and show-stopping hat. I think I must have exhausted all the stores in a 100 mile radius. I was beginning to feel a little down-hearted. I mean, every woman wants to look her best at such a glamourous function and I was determined to look stunning. Finally, I found the perfect dress, quite by accident, in a little boutique in Easingwold, a village just north of York. A lady in my Zumba class had recommended the shop, but I really was rather sceptical. I should never have doubted her, because there it was ….. the most beautiful frock. It was in my favourite colour, lilac, and was so floaty and delicate with tiny cream roses embroidered on the bodice and strewn, at random, around the hem. And, even more serendipitous, there was the most fabulous, wide-brimmed hat in exactly the same colours. I think I blanched a little, when the sales-girl quoted the price, but I thought ‘to hell with it, I will look amazing‘ and handed over my credit card, with a smile. It only remained for me to make appointments with my hairdresser and my manicurist and I would be all set.
As the wedding was to be held on Saturday the 27th, right in the middle of the August Bank Holiday weekend, we decided to make a real ‘holiday‘ of it and leave on Thursday afternoon. We had booked into a lovely little hotel, that I knew well. It was ideal, because it was just a couple of miles from the 5 star hotel that was to host the impending nuptials.
The damn M62 is always a nightmare, but, it seemed to be busier than ever. Obviously holiday makers, making an early start and trying to avoid the chaos that would be a feature on the Friday ! By the time we reached Birch Services, I had lost count of the number of traffic jams and hold-ups we had encountered. We decided to have a brief pit-stop, before tackling the even busier M60, the ring road around the huge conurbation of Manchester. Then, refreshed, we set off again.
Kate doesn’t drive, but she kept me well entertained with stories of her last holiday before her divorce.They had gone to Peru, because her husband had always wanted to see Machu Picchu. Apparently, while they were exploring the Inca site, 2,430 metres above sea-level, he had told her that he was having an affair and that he planned to divorce Kate as soon as they returned home ! “Quel rat“, as Holly Golightly would say !
I can imagine that the long trip home was rather interesting ! ( I must find out more details and do a gossipy blog !!)
With such fascinating revelations, the journey simply whizzed by… M60… M61 … M6 and finally, the sign for the South Lakes and the picturesque drive into Windermere.
I adore the Lake District and, as Kate had only ever been once, many years ago, when her children were young, I was thrilled to have a whole day to take her to some of my favourite places. The weather was gorgeous and so we spent Friday doing the full ‘tourist‘ bit. Shopping in Windermere and lovely little Ambleside. Visiting Dove Cottage in beautiful Grasmere, with its clear, shining, tree-lined lake and pretty village centre, not forgetting to buy a block of Grasmere Gingerbread in the quaint little shop. I drove up to Keswick and Derwentwater, with Kate “Oooohing ” and “ Ahhhing” as she caught glimpses of shimmering lakes and imposing mountains at almost every turn, I think that, by the time the day was over, she loved the area as much as I do.
We returned to our hotel and had dinner. It had been a long, but happy day and we were both tired. I decided to have an early night, I wanted to be sure I didn’t have dark circles around my eyes !
I checked that my hair was still looking good and repaired a chip in the lilac polish, on one of my nails and fell,exhausted, into bed.
Saturday dawned with the promise of another fine day. It was, already, very warm and the hazy mist that hung over the lake and clung to the surrounding mountains, was rapidly being dispelled by the hot sun. What a wonderful day for a wedding.
We breakfasted and then repaired to our rooms, to dress. I showered and then slipped into my finery. A glance in the mirror told me all I needed to know … I looked pretty good !
Kate was resplendent in a beautiful, soft-grey, suit and pink hat. She twirled, delightedly, as I admired her outfit and then she confessed the price. We both giggled and shrugged …. we may have to live on beans on toast, for the next few weeks …. but …. goddamn, did we look great !!
The ballroom, in the exclusive hotel, was decorated in the same ivory and gold as the invitation card. Little, gilt edged, white chairs were arranged in rows on the polished, oak floor. The room was almost full and an usher, in grey morning suit, showed us to two seats at the back. I glanced around the room and marvelled at the abundance of fat, creamy tea-roses and huge white Chinese peonies that seemed to cover every surface. Some were in gigantic, crystal vases, others strung, in garlands, and looped around the French windows. The scent was heady and almost overpowering and I began to feel slightly nauseous. Soft music drifted on the air and I craned my neck to peer over the heads and hats of the designer-clad, wedding guests. I could see the groom, standing to one side, and behind him was a string quartet and a harpist ! Gosh, this wedding was certainly costing Kate’s friend some serious money !
After a few minutes, the strains of Wagner’s ‘Bridal Chorus‘ from Lohengrin, began and we all turned to see the bride appear. She wore a simple, but utterly beautiful, Vera Wang dress. It was double faced satin and hung in sumptuous folds, with the sparkle of crystal beading that caught the light as she moved slowly towards the front of the room. She looked so happy and I felt a rush of emotion and feelings of…. what ? Regret ? Longing ? Surely I wasn’t going to cry ? Kate smiled, encouragingly, and whispered,
” Good luck, Charlotte,”
and the bride smiled back at both of us.
The Registrar began the ” Dearly beloved” speech and usual preamble and all the guests sat back and relaxed. Then I heard the words,
“ Does anyone here know of any just cause …………...
I didn’t hear the rest of it, my head was swimming and I felt sick and dizzy, but I took a deep breath and stood up.
“ Yes,” I shouted, my voice faltering a little, as everyone turned to stare at me, “ Yes, I do !”, stronger now, I marched down to the front and the ‘groom’ gasped as I continued, ” I have an objection …. the groom is still married to me !”
You see, we split up a few years ago, but we never got round to getting a divorce !
Did you guess that it was all fiction ?