Friday, 29 January 2010

Wedding in Jersey, New Years Eve

I'd promised to write a report of this event, but then I thought, how do you do that? My readers weren't there, and mostly don't know these people, how do I get the feel of the occasion across, etc etc, my usual kind of negativity - so I didn't bother. Until now, when sudden overwhelming popular demand (from Rosie) has kickstarted me. So. Not a blow by blow account, just a few highlights.

The ceremony was at 4.30 pm at St Clements Church. It was totally candle-lit (which I think caused the vicar some safety concerns). Vehicular access to this church, as to most of inland Jersey, is restricted, and the bride was delayed by an unfortunately parked car. The vicar took this opportunity to rehearse the bit in the modern ceremony where the congregation are asked to respond to a question about whether we are prepared to support and succour the couple in their future life together with the words 'we will'. He didn't think we were loud enough, so made us do it again, and again. Then Georgie arrived at last. When that bit of the service was reached, I saw her crumple in delighted shock at this huge shouted response - 'WE WILL!!!'

The journey from the church to the reception venue (the Grand Hall of Jersey's major boy's public school - I am not making this up) was a white-knuckle ride. Our coach driver had a tendency to drive up the narrowest lane he could find, even though there was a perfectly respectable main road, then do an impossible three point turn or reverse out - he also recognised only two settings for the clutch, on or off. Eventually, ignoring our screams, he got us there.

This was the best bit:

After the main course (braised ribeye beef with parmesan mash and beans, I think), the house lights go out. Everyone thinks 'oh no', then a waiter appears with a ladder, climbs up it, the lights come back on - and to an orchestral backing track, he pulls a microphone out of his pocket and launchs into 'The Marriage of Figaro', in a superb baritone voice. Everyone was flabbergasted, applauded - then a girl jumps up from one of the tables (where she'd been posing as a guest), and performs another operatic aria, can't remember what ... They did about eight numbers in all. The element of sheer surprise was what made it so great. (Apparently, only two people, not including the bride and groom, knew this was going to happen.)

I was going to put a picture of the singers in here, but frankly I've had enough of trying to get Blogger to do what I want it to, so I'm signing off this post for now - suffice to say it was a magical occasion, which I hope will never have to be repeated (that is until younger brother Alex decides to hitch up, maybe - you have an act to follow, lad!)

PS If anyone knows how to make pictures land exactly where I want them to within a post, rather than always at the top, please drop me a line ...

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Hurrah ...

... the recession's over! A magic number (which nobody except the statisticians actually understands) has gone positive (+ 0.01%), so we're back to normal apparently. Whew, my life feels transformed already.

I'd intended to write at some length about the above, but my dinner intervened. It was, for the second time in twelve months, a Haggis! Complete with tatties 'n' neeps - well, carrots, actually, not having any neeps in stock, also not being quite sure what a neep is: some kind of Scottish turnip? Anyway, like the man said, Sonsie! (I know I was two days late, but I did make up for this by having the wee dram, or four, two days early courtesy of Paul and his Glenmorangie last Saturday.)

Curiously, as one who loves and admires most things Scottish, apart from a couple of exceptions I've never really visited the country. The first, which doesn't really count, was numerous business trips to bleak finance-industry business parks outside Edinburgh, called things like 'South Gyle'. The other visit was to stay with friends in Glasgow in about 1995. They lent us their spare car, an ancient Allegro or somesuch. We drove northwest, skirting Loch Lomond (amazing how quickly you get out of the city into country, but that's because it's surrounded by mountains and lochs, which you can't build on); then across the pass called 'Rest and be thankful', to the top of Loch Fyne and so down to Inveraray, our destination.

I know it's tame compared to other places, but this had a bit of that frontier-town atmosphere I've always been drawn to. Big sky, wind, coiled ropes on the quayside, a sense of far-off, different places out there over the water. We had fish and chips in a heaving pub (the lights went out halfway through, normal apparently), then back to the car. I put the key in the door and turned it, and it snapped off in the lock.

Thursday, 14 January 2010


Around one o'clock today, as I was toying with the idea of a small sherry, I heard the loud noise of a diesel engine out in the Close by the side of the house.

'Aha!' I thought. 'The Council have determined that the packed ice has now (as I predicted) turned sufficiently slushy for the dustmen to get their Vulture [which is called Dennis, by the way] down the Close and empty our bins. Better put the bin out, then.' So I went out for a look.

But it wasn't the Vulture, it was a huge bulldozer. 'Aha!', I thought. 'Some kind Council person has noticed that we of the Close have struggled over the last ten days to get our cars (or even our legs) out onto the Avenue, and has sent a bulldozer fairy to save us. Bit late, but - Good Council!'

But, as I watched, the bulldozer, without lowering its scoop, executed a difficult three point turn at the end of the Close, drove back out and vanished off down the Avenue. I think I shouted 'Oy!' or something after him, but to no avail. The slush is intact. (So, so far, is the Council.)

By the way, apologies to everyone who sent me a snow-clad Christmas card, against which I unfairly ranted in a previous post. It was the snow I wanted to burn, not the cards.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


Everyone is banging on about this, so let me put my wellie in. Snow is objectionable. It maims, if not kills, hundreds of people every time it shows up, and disrupts the innocent lives of millions more. How many people in Britain are anxious about running out of food because snow is preventing them getting to a shop? How many are cold, smelly or both because snow has cut off their power supplies? How many spent 18 hours trapped in their cars on the A3 last night? How many, like me, are at severe risk of exhausting their gin supplies? There's no conceivable defence for the stuff.

I know what you're thinking - Ahh, but it's pretty. My friend Caro says 'isn't it exciting!' Oh no it isn't. Look at it. It's just a load of whiteness, if you're lucky. Soon it'll turn into either a cowpat-brown mess of shoe-destroying sludge (which will also erode the underside of your car once you manage to drive over it) or a shiny black slick of ice carefully positioned to break the hip of any OAP stupid enough to venture outside their door for bread, or gin. Not pretty, not exciting.

All the news bulletins bang on about 8,236 schools being closed (nothing about factories, shops, surgeries or A&E departments - why do schools suddenly become the only institutions that matter as soon as it snows?) and what great news this is for the kids. Excuse me? If the kids think it's so great not having to be educated for a few days, then let them get out and drive the gritters and snowploughs, please.

I see from my usual audit that about sixty per cent of the Christmas cards I received this season depict snow, or one or other of its idealised consequences. This despite the fact that it never snows in Bethlehem, does it? They're going to be burnt for fuel, probably. Bah, humbug.

Meanwhile, if anyone within reach of Reading happens to have a spare snowplough...