It’s a couple of weeks until either of my writing groups meet, but as I usually leave it to the last minute to write something, I’m going to try and get ahead of myself and begin to think, and hopefully come up with a story. I’m a terrible procrastinator, I try not to be, I try to do things in plenty of time, but maybe I misjudge, maybe it’s a sort of nervous reluctance, but with all sorts of things I delay, delay, delay, and sometimes i regret to say, it’s too late!
One of the challenges is to write something humorous. I have written things before which I hope will amuse, but most of them – if not all, end up as comical by accident. Some of these stories are based on real things which have happened – usually to my dad, but sometimes to me. I’m wracking my brains now, and my head seems empty at the moment. The other topic is indeed a challenge, ‘Regeneration’! I’m going to need a couple of weeks to come up with something for this, something original, and unlikely to be what any of the others in the group think of.
Here’s a story I wrote a couple of years ago, which still tickles me!
I have to say I didn’t think there was any need to get married. I felt we were quite happy as we were. I was talking to my best mate, sitting comfortably in the pub.
“As far as I’m concerned, we’re rubbing along alright, what’s the point of getting married?” I said, wishing that I could have another pint. I’d promised Bella I’d only have a couple and then come home, there was a film she wanted to watch and had bought popcorn and nachos for a movie night.
“Rubbing along, Ben? Rubbing along? Ben, mate, I think you’re better off out of it if you’re only rubbing along!!”
OK, so it wasn’t the best way of expressing it, and irritated, not with him but with me, I went and got another couple of pints.
I live round the corner from the pub, just a ten minute walk and I stomped back to the flat muttering to myself. Just wasting money! Morning suits! Top hats! Buttonholes! Favours for the bridesmaids – I actually didn’t know what they were but didn’t think they were what they sounded like. Herumph, vintage cars or horse and carriages, weird coloured waistcoats to match the bridesmaids – Just a waste of money!
Why? We could have a big party in the village hall, get in the caterers, put up some decorations, but bloody hell, why spend thirty thousand on a bloody wedding when it’s the deposit on a proper house not the pokey semi we apparently want to buy! And church? I’m not religious so it seems wrong for me to go through all that…
I’d worked myself up by the time I got to the flat. My rant to my mate, the extra pint – I was going to put my foot down with a firm hand!
Things didn’t go to plan; for a start, Bella had decided that we’d get takeaway kebabs and talk seriously about our future, forget the film and the popcorn. The thought of kebabs buoyed my sinking heart and then she said she’d been considering what I’d said about the wedding, and actually she’d begun to think maybe I had some good ideas.
Well, that perked me up, and when I said should I open a couple of beers to go with the kebabs, she said yes, and she’d have a glass of wine. I felt a big annoying weight lifting off my shoulders.
A friend of a friend of hers had been married in a field; there’d been a beautiful bridal barn and a festive marquee in case the weather wasn’t clement. This sounded cheaper, and when I asked her, yes it was. I began to get a glimmer that it was the money that had changed her mind, especially when she suddenly produced some estate agent’s leaflet about a wonderful fully restored, period Victorian four-bedroom (two ensuite) dwelling on the posh side of town.
I confess my mind had wandered somewhat; the arrival of the kebabs and some Turkish beer Bella had ordered diverted me away from weddings, as became clear when I thought she was talking about a breakfasting ceremony, which sounded rather splendid but was in fact was a handfasting ceremony.
“No, not breakfasting, Ben, what on earth has that to do with getting married?” she was a little snappish but then said I could have her Efes as she didn’t like Turkish beer, and she explained all about handfasting.
I blame it on the fact that I hadn’t eaten since a quick sandwich at lunchtime, the extra pint on top of the two in the pub, the beer when I got home, and the two bottles of Efes… Anyway, it seemed I’d agreed with everything she suggested and she’d booked the venue that night and arranged an appointment to see the mystical Lady Vivienne the priestess who would conduct the ceremony.
We drove over to Glastonbury and I began to realise that actually I had no idea what was going on with this wedding. I’d been so relieved to avoid the traditional top hat and tails, half a dozen expensive bridesmaids and extravagant reception, that I left everything up to Bella and barely listened to her going on, and on, and on about it. She was driving as she’d picked me up after lunch. We’d both taken the afternoon off and with no work to return to I’d met my best mate for lunch of a liquid nature.
When I told him we were going to Glasto to see the mystical Lady Vivienne about handfasting he nearly spilt his beer and I had to wait several minutes while he guffawed.
“Mate, you want to duck out now, I’m telling you, Ben! You’ll be dressed up like a hippy, have a floral wreath on your bonce and a vegan reception with no alcohol and Morris dancing!”
He saw I was offended and bought me another pint and a whisky chaser to give me courage for the mystical event which lay ahead. I felt obliged, since he’d been so apologetic, to buy him the same, and one for me of course.
So we drove over to Glasto and I tried to stay awake.
We parked in a rather unkempt field and were met by a gent in long purple robes and a beard who said he would guide us to the Lady Vivienne and waved to the corner of the field.
“The satirical Lady Lilian lives in a yurt!” I exclaimed. Bella poked me in the ribs rather hard I thought and corrected me as I stumbled through the tussocks and tufts of grass.
Our guide held open the curtain thing across the entrance.
“This is very mystical,” I whispered to Bella, well I thought I whispered.
“Will you behave, Ben!” she hissed and poked me again and I sort of staggered sideways as we entered and kicked a tripod and bowl burning rather nasty patchouli flavoured incense. It fell over and the purple-robed one rushed to rescue the burning lump of goo. I thought he said a not very mystical word but I was probably mistaken.
He told me to go outside and take off my shoes and socks so I could communicate directly with Mother Earth. The problem was, he’d dropped the curtain thing, and now in the light of candles, and with a swirl of joss and smouldering incense I had difficulty finding which of the painted panels let me out.
Bella was still hissing at me, and purple-robe, calling me Brother Groom guided me to the escape flap. I can tell you, when I got outside I’d rather have kept my shoes on and headed out of the mystic marriage garden, but Bella was waiting.
I returned and tried my best, but honestly, sitting cross-legged on a bean bag and summoning my spirit guide, having my chakras checked and realigned, and then trying to compose the marriage vows we’d make to each other was possibly the most challenging thing I’ve ever done.
It didn’t help that Lady Godiva wanted us to meditate and focus on our future happiness, with our eyes shut. As soon as I closed my eyes, the bean bag developed a malevolent desire to shake me off and combined with feeling slightly dizzy with scented candles, I kept slipping towards either Bella who shoved me upright quite aggressively, and Lady Madonna who reeked of weed.
I summoned up my inner Dave and managed to exert control over the bean bag. After what seemed like an eternity of meditating, chanting and discussing marriage vows it was time to leave the bean bag. Easier said than done, much easier said as my legs had gone to sleep and my hips were in spasm.
I guess you can imagine how silent the drive back from Glasto was. It may have been because I drifted off into a bit of a haze; I blamed the joss, incense and candles that Lady Gaga had in her yurt.
After that I moved in with my best mate for a while. It wasn’t that Bella gave me the heave-ho after the Glastonbury experience. No, it was me. At the end of the day, my mate was right, I was better off out of it. I think Bella went ahead and bough the four-bed Victorian place, and I believe she invited Lady Belladonna to check the Feng Shui of it all or something, maybe it was the chakras needed aligning, I don’t know what it was, some mystical bollocks anyway.