Monday, September 04, 2006

Wedding Day Memories

A dear friend, Don, mid-sixties and inconvenienced by Parkinson's, married Sarah, mid-fifties and with MS, on Saturday. It was a day full of bumping into old pals and trying to identify them by imagining them with hair, less girth or the ability to eat unaided.

Don's tremble is above the waist and Sarah's struggle is with walking/standing. Cutting the cake included the line, 'Look out, there may be casualties' as the knife flailed in the general direction of the front row as well as fondant.

Eighteen of the clergy Don was directly responsible for encouraging into the ordained ministry were there. Many of us sat in a large group of former and current Venture leaders, from whom the standard of wit and heckle was so high it was necessary to spend most of the not inconsiderable speech time with a handkerchief in my mouth. The longest two minutes of my life was the period between the bride's father saying 'raise your glasses' and actually proposing the toast. I was dribbling comic reaction into my sparkling water.

The reception was in a school. When, during the Best Man's speech, a school bell was heard in the distance I heard someone say, 'Wake up Steve, it's Monday, time for double maths.'

Still, it was a lovely day, full of the kind of shared hardship that leads to years of humour. And full of recall.

Bob and I used to be responsible for moving furniture on a Venture Site called Clarendon School in Bedfordshire. Steve Deakin, who we caught up with for the first time for over twenty years, had the list of things to move. The job could easily be summarised to a new leader as, 'Follow Steve Deakin and do what he says. Don't move anything without writing it down.' At the time there was a twee Christian chorus called 'Sweet Jesus,' It began:

Sweet Jesus, sweet Jesus
What a wonder you are...

As Bob and I followed Steve around we wrote some new words to that song (mainly to stop anyone ever having to sing it again) and I find that I still recall them:

Steve Deakin, Steve Deakin
What a blunder you are,
You are brighter than a pint of mild (Mitchells and Butlers);
Fairer, much fairer, than the Birmingham City Lottery,
Precious, more precious, than dung.

You are the Rose of Neasden,
The squarest of the square,
You never once have set my heart on fire;
Steve Deakin, Steve Deakin
What a blunder you are,
Precious, more precious, than sand.

Happy day and happy days.

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