11 Oct 2004
As the ceremony unfurled uniting my cousin Karan and her fiancé Peter there was no talk of God being a witness and sat somewhere in the rafters nor was theirs a holy union blessed by some ephemeral spirit or scary-arsed ghost. As Peter jokingly forgot Karan’s name the audience laughed and I chuckled aloud and noticed that I was smiling like a loon. I was in the front row and could see clearly how the lucky couple’s actions were tinged with nerves but erupted from a shared desire to be joined to an even greater extent then they already were. As he slipped her ring onto her finger and she his onto his I shed one large and enjoyable tear. It struck me then that I had never enjoyed a wedding anywhere near to how much I was revelling in this one and I asked myself why. The answers were simple. Firstly, because of the absence of religious implications I did not feel like a hypocrite. I was not made to join in with prayers that made me seethe with anger at the utter fantastical nature of them. The belief in a supernatural entity is complete bollocks, but that is a discussion for another time. The fact that this ceremony was not denigrated by reference to said bollocks meant I could truly and unashamedly revel in it. The second reason I was so touched by their happiness was that I knew them well. When I say ‘well’ what I think I really mean is that we had all been very drunk together and had had a good time. Such libatious experiences are often worth a dozen sober encounters in terms of discovering aspects of character, what with the infamous drowning of inhibitions. If you get on like a house boat on fire and plunging down a waterfall when inebriated then you can normally take it for granted that you will certainly get on sober and in the future.
Anyway, the whole experience was wonderful and as we had our pictures taken in the winners’ paddock, keenly weighed down by glasses of fine bubbly, I ran into the husband of the bride’s sister whose name is Irie. He is a very intelligent guy and it was a pleasure to take a break from the wittering conversations that I was bouncing around between of relations who recognise each other but might not even remember the correct names but still, nonetheless, feel socially obliged to natter on. As we exchanged views on the world, a thin, beautiful and dark-haired vision passed in front of my eyes and gave me such a searching look, that I felt immediately that I should know who she was, before she walked on and linked arms with some merkin-haired midget in a kilt. As Irie talked of Australia and vicious drunken kangaroos my addled memory provided the answer to the question that I had only slightly suspected was being asked. Her name was Sophia and she was my second cousin and we had fucked eight years ago at one of the family reunions. She had been a seventeen-year-old minx and had refrained from talking to me all evening until she suddenly appeared at my elbow with a bottle of Baileys and instructed me that I’d pulled. She was exceedingly tasty and had nipples, when aroused, like cigar butts. Despite the fact that I was almost incoherent with drink, she managed to sort me out adequately so that we could screw. As I quickly passed out after a very brief exertion on my behalf, she returned to her hotel room, and I awoke alone in the morning with the delicious sensation enjoyed by one whom, for the first time, has just indulged in mild incest. The feeling was only moderately dampened by the fact that I could not find the condom anywhere and proceeded to have mild panic attacks that it would be lost in my luggage for my mother to find or stuck to the back of my jacket for her father to see. None of which happened and the whole event is a honey covered memory for me now, savoured occasionally when feeling the need.
Next came the wedding lunch and the accompanying speeches. The lunch was palatable and I found the speeches highly digestible and rather funny despite not knowing the groom’s history at all. I had been seated upon a table of apparently ‘young and fun people.’ I admit that most of them were young-ish but as two of the couples at the table both had screaming bairns with them the fun element seemed to have been moderately exaggerated. I turned from them to my left to a distant cousin whose name I had hurriedly extracted from my all-family-knowing mother as soon as I saw I was to be seated next to her. For the next hour I only managed conversation by making the fact that we were struggling at conversation the conversation itself. Ellie, for that was her name, was game and struggled on with me as I steadily consumed far more than my fair share of alcohol. The other girls at the table, more distant cousins, and sisters I think, and both very attractive were of no real use as they seemed keen on discussing fabrics and members of the family whom I knew not. I was mixing my pints with my red wines with my white wines and then with my brandy. Any true sense of decorum that I might have had been conclusively drowned as I made my slurred excuses, kicked someone’s ankle as I arose from the table and then slid down the stairs with the banister under my armpit to the bar where I sat with like-minded souls and rolled and lit a fag.
Eventually the lunch and speeches were called to a halt and about two hundred people flowed down the stairs to the bar for revelry, music and dancing. I was talking to a very tasty Japanese woman, whose name I never managed to grasp despite asking her incessantly, who wore a black silk dress with embroidered dragons and a slit running from her knee to her upper thigh. Her whole appearance was of a svelte sex kitten with enchanting green slanting eyes that I wanted to pet on my lap. Nor was her demeanour and conversation anything other than that which would unquestionably suggest an utterly filthy approach to sexual exertions, even to a virginal monk. I have never had the pleasure of an oriental lass and while not wanting to sound like a deviant Phileas Fogg, I have every intention of travelling to such intriguing spots someday, and was busy considering how easily I might be able to turn our innocent conversation about France into some heavy French kissing. As I sat at a table and rolled another cigarette Irie came and sat down and distracted me from Nip Chick with a pint of Stella. He leaned in close to say:
"Bruce, I know all the single women here…"
"..I’ve met a couple. This one is lovely."
"That one is easy! She’ll go with anyone."
"Really? That’s great news! If you’ll excuse me then…" I said as turned back to Nip Chick with the sole intention of regaining her attention and then some of her saliva.
Irie tapped my wrist and shook his head. We leant our heads in again in a conspiratorial huddle.
"What is it then? I’m busy."
"I’ll tell you what Bruce, to make it interesting and if you think you’re upto it, I’ll choose a single lady for you to have a crack at."
"What’s wrong with this one? I like this one. I like her left upper thigh…look, you can see it."
"I know, but she’s too easy. Don’t you want a challenge?"
"Look Irie, you’re just trying to scupper my chances because you’re happily married and can’t enjoy all of this wonderful arse that’s bouncing about in here!"
Irie managed to ignore the obvious truth in my statement and continued,"I’ll give odds on any of these ladies and we’ll make a wager out of it. How about it, do you think you can handle that, eh?"
Obviously, being as evidently insecure as I am I jumped at the chance to test my womanising skills in a controlled and money-laden environment. "Bring it on then Irie! I’ll choose a girl and you give me the odds and then I’ll take your money…"
"Well, the dragon lady is even odds as she’ll go with anyone mildly attractive and coherent, probably even you too. She’s too easy for you Bruce."
"Well…." said I as I quickly scanned the bar and what I could see of the dance floor, "…how about that one there in the pink dress?"
"I’ll tell you what. Let me have a look about and I’ll find you the best one. Give me ten minutes." And so saying he left the table and disappeared into the throng.
About twenty minutes later I was standing by the side of the stage immersed in a philosophical conversation, that reached from existentialism all the way to the nation-wide introduction of plastic pint glasses, which you might be surprised to learn are actually connected in more than four ways, with the father of the bride. We always have wonderful talks when slightly drunk but then I saw Irie motioning to me from across the dancefloor. I excused myself from Phil’s company and jigged my way across the room. As I got closer I could see that Irie was sat next to a very attractive dark haired woman who looked in her late twenties. Her straight hair reached over her shoulders and onto her back. She was wearing a black dress covered in red cherries, almost like a sophisticated version of some garment that a rock-a-billy chick might wear at a tattoo convention, and it covered her curvaceous body in a very beguiling manner. The suggestion of ripe, sweet and firm cherry flesh seemed entirely relevant. Her skin was pale and I knew before I even talked to her that she would be the epitome of the English lady. As I approached their table and an empty seat she looked at me as she uncrossed and then crossed her shapely legs. Irie was smiling at me like a demented Cheshire cat. I smiled back sarcastically. As I sat down next to the girl he introduced us.
"Sonia, this is Bruce, my wife’s cousin. Bruce, this is Sonia who is a good friend of Karan." He then made his excuse about his wife gesturing him over to boogie and left me to it with a sly wink. ‘Let battle commence!’ thought I to my drunken self. What transpired between us for the next three hours does not deserve to be recorded in any other fashion then this; it was dull. It was not boring, as Sonia was very well educated, everso slightly charming and engaging, very attractive and a little drunk. It was not, however, fun, nor did I at any point believe that I was going to win the bet or overcome her fastidious frostiness. She was so succinctly a certain type of English lady, in that I mean she displayed all the facets requisite to turn a very attractive and potentially fun girl into a ponderous and monochrome pile of leaf-mould in the corner. Accordingly, as the hours slipped by I spent more and more time on the dance floor twisting with cousins and friends, occasionally returning to the table and Sonia to have a chat, and generally too disheartened to attempt to hitch my wagon to another horse.
As the hour reached two the band shut up shop and the bar closed. I was mildly distraught. The common myth is that a high percentage of people meet their future spouses at other people’s weddings (only a few at their own weddings) and whilst not looking for a long term deal I was at least expecting a short lived but highly enjoyable and mutually pleasuring hire-contract. As I sat with Sonia, nibbling on a cocktail stick, I turned to her and suggested that, as this was a celebration of love, we should share in it by snogging ourselves silly. At which point and as utterly deadpan as she had been all evening Sonia uttered the immortal words:
"I don’t kiss strangers Bruce."
My patter was disturbed. Don’t kiss strangers? Who does she kiss then?
"What, you only kiss your friends?"
"You know what I mean."
I didn’t nor was I in any state to inquire further into the workings of this girl’s mind. She was not shy but she was a complete non-starter. We gave each other a very light peck on the cheek, I thanked her for her company then surreptitiously stole her water for my walk home to my bed and breakfast, and departed. Before I left I saw Irie at the bar and headed towards him to have a word. He saw me and, smirking, met me by the first table we had sat at. We didn’t say much. He started with:
"It’s alright Bruce, we didn’t put any money on it."
"Just tell me the odds."
"A generous hundred to one."
"You complete bastard. I’ll see you later." And I left him laughing at the table. What made the end of the evening even worse was that I had to wait at the exit to let a group of kilt-wearing rugby players out first, one of whom had his arms around my delectable second cousin. I stormed out of the building in a foul mood, cursing certain types of English women and muttering to myself my belief, that I have had from a very young age, that I shall end up with a foreign chick, whose foreign ways will mesmerise me. As I strode out for the centre of Chester I caught up with another departing guest who, for a second, appeared to be Audrey Hepburn wearing a tight beige raincoat as if she was just on her way for breakfast at Tiffany’s. We got talking. She was from Serbia. She was delicious. But that is another story entirely.