The Wedding Band
26 November 2001
Now, weddings. Weddings are extremely curious things.
I think a lot of the curiosity comes down to whether your parents have thus far managed to stumble towards the grave without divorce. Even if their marriage is a black cake of misery leavened only by either or both of them paying $400 to eat an overweight prostitute's shit whenever they can afford it, if they're still together the children can still entertain the vague notion that marriages, fundamentally and intrinsically, work. They have a role to play in the world. Marriage is one of the things that makes what is worthwhile and good worthwhile and good.
So, even if they have not spoken for five years, and seem to remember their last words being angry ones, the principle still holds firm, at least if you see it from arm's length.
We children of broken homes, on the other hand....
Broken homes. Such a negative term. I prefer "roomy homes".
...are less convinced. It's not, I fain, the pain, the heartbreak, the divided loyalties or any of that old shit. It's more the feeling of utter stupidity.
So hang on. I just broke friends with somebody I had been passionately attached to for three months after an altercation over a Barbie doll. And, despite that fairly glaring hint about the permanence of things, I always believed you when you said that you and bignose over there were signed on a permanent contract.
And now it turns out you were joking. Well har de fucking har, cunt sandwich. Sic transit gloria wanking mundi. Take a Polaroid, bitchkebob - this is the face of someone who is not falling for this shit again.
Did that come across as bitter? Not the intention.
In, fact, I'm here to tell you about the bucking of the trend. Despite everything, I'm taking the step midway between love and a baby in a baby carriage. The boy is getting hitched.
Which causes certain complications. How to make the whole thing relevant, for a start. It's a condition of the age that these days people either marry very late and divorce early (the Guardian approach) or marry early and marry often (The Take a Break approach).
As a result of this, I have precious few precedents for how you go about it. Very few people I know have done the tying of the knot. So my sources are limited.
My parents, the archetypal Guardian couple - marry in Hayes, repent in Leicester, squirt me out six months after the ceremony and split up the moment I left home with an audible creaking of release.
The Take a Break option - a nightmare of home-made peach silk bridesmaids' dresses. She divorced, me living with doting mother. Drunken uncles trying to slip 14-year olds the tongue at shambolic receptions. At least one fistfight. Three weeks of wedded bliss, largely indistinguishable from the previous six weeks of living together except without my mother in the upstairs room.
Then start drinking. Become absurdly possessive of wife. Refuse to allow her to go to the pub ("or anywhere else" is redundant in this context). Criticise the shortness of her skirts and the lowness of her top. Spend much time drinking in aforementioned pub. Become physically abusive.
Wife, meanwhile, falls pregnant. Wife always falls pregnant. Pregnancy is a thing that one falls into. Hopes that presence of child will return me to being the man she fell in love with. Is, inevitably, disappointed. Loss of job provides more time for drinking and spousal abuse.
Wife takes job in winneting factory to help make ends meet. Over the winnets, she meets Steve. Steve treats her like a lady. They see each other, just as friends at first, but after a few evenings his lips touch hers and she doesn't pull away.
Alas, I suspect skulduggery, being as I am generally convinced, particularly in my cups, that wife is being unfaithful. Follow wife, see her dry-humping outside the Winneter's Arms on Rushy Street and either stab or run over Steve, depending on whether or not car has been repossessed.
Steve dies, I go to jail, wife rebuilds life with the help of John, whom she is shacked up and well on the way to marriage with while the flesh is still fresh in the box. I'm not convinced.
So, running rapidly out of ideas, I finally settled on a winner. Scott and Charlene.
How could I have been so blind? Scott and Charlene were one of the most romantic couplings of our time. Theirs was a love that spanned the ages. "Especially for You" still plays in over-25s nightclubs across Essex.
I will wear a traditional mullet. My beloved will starve herself and her pet pomeranian, then wear the poor dead beast on her head. We will embrace to the strains of "Suddenly" by "Angry" Anderson, and kiss to the anthemic swell.
And then we'll go to Adelaide. And you'll never hear from us again.