To say that yesterday’s wedding went without a hitch wouldn’t be entirely accurate. For a start, Sean and Emily were married. Sorry, should I maybe have built a bit more suspense? But that wasn’t the only hitch of the day. One of the guests, an eccentric seventy-nine-year-old, decided to attend the ceremony in a kilt. Forty-five minutes before the wedding, he realised that he’d left it at home in Rotherham. He decided that he would have time to drive back home, get his kilt, and return to the venue in time for the ceremony. He didn’t tell anyone about this. I think, if he had, then they would have pointed out that it was unlikely to take him only forty minutes to drive from Sheffield to Rotherham and back.
At 3 o’clock, everyone was in their seat ready for the wedding to start, which it was due to do at 3 o’clock. However, someone was missing. It was Ian, the man who’d gone home for his kilt; except, no one knew this. As far as we were aware he was at the venue, as we’d seen him only an hour ago. We searched around the venue grounds, went to his room, which was in the venue that the wedding was taking place, but he was nowhere to be found. The registrars had to be at another wedding in the next hour, and so they couldn’t afford to wait around. So the wedding started without him.
He did make some of the wedding ceremony, but just not the wedding part, for by the time he made it back, Sean and Emily had already been married. But at least he got to see Sean and Emily signing some legal documents. Although, no one else was really looking at the legal documents signing, because they were all staring at the man who’d just come crashing into the wedding, out of breath, desperately trying to finish fastening his kilt. He then whispered to the woman next to him – although it was a very loud whisper, probably as a result of his deafness – “Would you give me a hand with ‘me sporran, love?” As she awkwardly tried to help him with his sporran, he loudly whispered, “have I missed much?” I’m not sure if he’d realised tht he’d missed the actual wedding bit of the ceremony, which might explain why he proceeded to get out a massive, unwieldy, antiquated video camera and start filming. At which point the registrar thanked us for coming, we applauded the newly weds and the ceremony ended.
In the best man speech, I told the story about when Sean and I went hitch hiking around the country together in 2005. I documented our hitch hiking experiences on cassette tape, and I’ll probably dig them out for The Young’uns Podcast, and play some bits and intersperse it with some retrospective detail and anecdotes.
This particular incident I mentioned in my speech was about the day when Sean and I had spent an entire day waiting for a lift. We were so convinced that success was just around the corner, and that if we moved to go to the toilet or get some food then that would mean that we’d miss the one person who’d have picked us up, and we’d then have to wait for hours before another ride presented itself. So we resolutely stood at the roadside, convinced that, any minute now … And so we waited … and waited. Eventually, at some point late evening, someone offered us a lift. We managed to get a hundred miles or so further South. So all in all, it had been a really great day, unless you take into account the fact that we’d spent most of it at the side of the same road with our bladders agonisingly bursting and our stomachs painfully rumbling out of starvation. But apart from that …
By the time we got out of the car, it was about ten o’clock. Everywhere seemed pretty deserted. The only place that was around and open was a McDonald’s. We went into mcDonalds and immediately visited the toilet, for a much needed urinate. We were both starving, and given that there didn’t seem to be anywhere else around, I suggested that we got something from McDonald’s. At this suggestion, Sean went off on a massive rant about global corporations and capitalism. He proudly declared that, starving though he may be, he was not prepared to eat at McDonald’s; instead he would seek out a local independent place to eat. I didn’t hold out muchhope of finding anywhere, but given Sean’s adamance, I accomponied him on a search for a local independent eatery.
We walked for over an hour, with barely any energy to do so, given that we hadn’t eaten for hours. There was nothing else open. We ended up walking in a massive circle, and came back to the McDonald’s that we’d left over an hour earlier. I assumed that, given that we’d done all we could, surely our only option now was to eat at this McDonald’s. But Sean wholeheartedly refused, and proceeded to give me another lecture about global corporations, and proudly declared that he would wait until the morning and then support the local bakery by eating there. We were both ravenous, and this didn’t help our mood, and so we stood in the doorway of McDonald’s, loudly arguing with each other about whether to eat there. I said that I said that if there was a local bakery open, then I’d be happy to eat there, but the fact that there wasn’t meant that we might as well eat at McDonald’s. We didn’t have a choice. But then he retorted by saying that we always have a choice. Our voices were getting louder as our argument got more heated. I tried to reason with him by stating that the people who work at McDonald’s are local, ordinary people, and that by eating at Macdonalds we would be supporting these local workers. I suggested that he should focus on this aspect. Sean countered this by bemoaning the low wages that these people would be getting, and how he didn’t want to support such an infrastructure. I responded by pointing out that he had no idea how much the staff at his precious local bakery were getting paid. The argument went on for quite some time, growing louder and more intense.
In the end, I stormed into McDonald’s and ordered some food, because I felt as if I would pass out if I didn’t get something. Sean stormed in behind me. We both sat at the table, while I ate, and Sean seethed. I offered to share my food with him, reasoning that this would mean that only one of us would have bought a meal, yet he would at least get something to eat. But Sean refused to accept any food, and so we just sat in silence while I hurriedly ate.
We then pitched the tent in silence, by the gates of the McDonald’s, and went straight to bed. I lay there awake for hours, listening to the sound of Sean’s stomach violently rumbling, while he tossed and turned, clearly too hungry to sleep. In the morning he got up early and returned to the tent whistling, for he had been to the local bakery and bought loads of food.
Nowadays, Sean will happily eat at a McDonald’s. I would prefer not to, if there are other options, but there have been times when there are other options and Sean has plucked for the McDonald’s. I mentioned this in my speech and bemoaned the fact that as Sean grew older, he let his principles slip, and lowered his very high ideals and standards. He became jaded and warn down by life, and became happy to settle for less. At which point I hilariously said, “which neatly brings me to the subject of Emily.” I believe it is customary for the best man to insult the bride in his speech.
However, my hilarious joke worked on two levels,because I then tied it into the story of Emily and Sean’s first date, which was at Nando’s, a global chain. I then pulled off another amazing bit of comedy, when I turned to Emily, and said, “it was Nando’s, wasn’t it?” After she had said yes, I responded with, “yes, nando’s. Just chickin.” As you would imagine, the audience went wild, I was lifted into the air and did a crowd-surfed lap of honour.
The other hitch was related to the DJ. The venue said that if they wanted a DJ then they would have to use the venue’s in-house DJ. If this was the Sean of eleven years ago then he would have put his foot down and ranted about wanting to support an independent local DJ, but the modern day Sean simply agreed to this rule.
The DJ didn’t get off to the best start. We all stood around Sean and Emily, ready to watch their first dance.
“Ladies and gentlemen, let’s hear it for the happy couple, Sean and Emma,” he shouted. Some people laughed, some people pulled a face at the DJ, others shouted “Emily, she’s called Emily.” I think that, being quite drunk, I found it massively hilarious, and I raised my glass and loudly shouted, “to Sean and Emma.”
“Come on,” the DJ continued, “that was terrible. I can’t hear you. Let’s try again. Raise your glasses to the happy couple, Sean and Emma.”
“To Sean and Emma!” I shouted again, raising my glass and drunkenly cackling. Someone went up to the DJ and told him that it was Emily. He eventually got it right the third time.
“And now, the first dance,” he announced. A hush descended over the room, followed by a loud, cacophonous series of crackles and pops. At first, I wasn’t sure whether this was deliberate, and perhaps Sean and Emily had chosen some John Cage for their first dance, but then I noticed that they weren’t dancing. After about thirty seconds, before the DJ tried to announce that he was having a few technical problems, except the mic wasn’t working, so he tried to loudly shout above the din. The crackling continued, and he nervously started fiddling with wires, while testing the microphone by shouting “one two one two,” and then loudly shouting things at us off the mic in order to desperately stall for time. “OK, while I try and sort this out, let’s have a rendition of For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow, for Sean and Emma.” In his flusterment – I know that’s not actually a word, but it should be – he’d obviously forgotten the Emma/Emily debacle from just a couple of minutes earlier. He’d also failed to realise the absurdity of singing For He’s A Jolly Good fellow to two people, one of whom was a woman, and thus not a fellow. Plus their jolliness was being somewhat tempered by the fact that the DJ kept calling the bride the wrong name, and didn’t seem able to get the music on. He valiantly attempted to get everyone singing the song by singing it himself, while he desperately started wrenching wires out of the back of his equipment which made a series of loud banging sounds to add to the din that was already occurring. A few of us loudly joined in with For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow, finding the ridiculousness of it all immensely funny.
Eventually he managed to get the equipment to work, and he once again announced that it was time for the first dance. He pressed play and music began to emanate from the speakers. Sean and Emily looked around nervously. It was clearly the wrong song. But Sean and Emily are both in their thirties now, and as already discussed earlier in this Dollop, they have had to start accepting things and compromising, lowering their ideals and standards, which is probably why, after a few seconds of standing there and not dancing, they began to awkwardly move to the music, which was something that I didn’t recognise, and nor did they. So they danced their first dance to the wrong song, and we all stood and watched and applauded at the end, even though we all knew that it clearly wasn’t the right song. In fact, the only person who didn’t know was the DJ, who continued to call Emily Emma throughout the night.
Still, despite a disorganised unpunctual eccentric kilt-wearing old man and the world’s worst DJ, everything else went perfectly, and most importantly of all, they got married, which was the main point really. So, wherever you are, whether your reading or listening, let’s raise a real or imaginary glass and let’s toast the happy couple. To Sean and Emma! For he’s a jolly good fellow!