Alison Goulding: Congratulations!

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ONE of life’s great pleasures is a really good wedding.

It’s like being gifted a very large, double-layered box of chocolates and having lots of time to read the card and choose your first victim.

Extravagant and delicious, a proper wedding is a welcome break away from the stupid and ugly side of life i.e. hoovering the skirting boards/throwing out receipts/being late.

Especially when it’s one of your oldest and most treasured friends and they’re marrying someone very nice and you have a feeling that there may be an invite to a diamond anniversary at some point in the hazy future provided we haven’t all been eaten by robots.

The friend in question arrived in my life when we were 13.

We met at the local riding school and started chatting one day about a very muddy pony called Benjamin and my abortive attempts to separate him from his shroud of filth and make him presentable again.

We (my friend and I, not the pony) remained thick as thieves through secondary school, lost touch in our late teens and were finally reunited about three years ago through the marvel of Facebook.

“You haven’t changed a bit” was the first thing she said when we met up for a coffee, and in truth, neither of us have really.

We both still like chatting, cups of tea and horses and everything else is detail.

So with all that said, it was a very happy and much anticipated day - except for the sodding rain, but you can’t have everything.

True to form, my friend was ready 45 minutes early and cool as a cucumber throughout (‘there’s no excuse to be a Bridezilla’ she stated firmly - good for her).

She looked absolutely fantastic and combined with the venue (Crook Hall in Durham) the whole thing felt like a very English fairytale where a rabbit with a pocketwatch could appear at any given moment.

They got married outside in the gardens between the showers in a lucky 10 minutes and then we had drinks in front of a roaring fire and a delicious dinner in the Jacobean Hall with fantastic flowers and little sparkly crystals scattered everywhere.

I was very nervous about going on my own but thank God for the kind-hearted guests who took me under their wing.

If you have ever seen someone standing on their todd and looking nervous at such an occasion and gone up to talk to them for purely altruistic reasons then please pass go and collect £200.

At the evening do I had my tip top plus one and we had a little twirl to Young Hearts Run Free and made up a rude dance which in hindsight I’m going to blame on the gin and leave it at that.

It’s tempting at this part in the column, when I still have 100 words left to fill, to waffle on about the sanctity of marriage or the politics of weddings in some vaguely intelligent way. But I’d be getting way out of my depth so I’ll keep it simple.

Congratulations Mark and Emma, and thanks for a great day. I hope you have a jolly nice marriage.

I’m told the secret is separate bank accounts and resisting the urge to batter one another with the frying pan.

But I don’t know this first-hand, so I’ll ask you again, many, many years from now.