So that's Jim and Lisa's wedding in the bag. If I was nervous having to perform Best Man duties and make a speech, then it was just as nerve-wracking for Jimmy, although he had the added benefit of marrying his one true love and having the rest of his life sorted out.
I had a ringside seat during the ceremony, positioned as I was within punching distance of the groom's shoulder. It was a far cry from my last stint as Best Man, where the ring carrying duties were carried out by that groom's nephew. In frantically arranging people into their seats, I soon realised that one wasn't set aside for me so I'd spent it at the back of the hall where I couldn't hear so much as a single vow, and where my mobile phone went off.
Which strangely means it went on.
This time round, I was confronted with a scene that - dare I say it - made my eyes leak a strange, colourless liquid. I'm afraid my cynicism got lost in the shared joy of the Bride and Groom, two people who grinned continuously at each other like lottery winners getting a Happy Finish from a Thai masseuse.
I found myself muttering 'Erk!' as tears appeared in my eyes when Jimmy, a man not known for his Public Displays of Affection, planted a smacker on his new wife's lips. In public. Twice. (The photographer missed the first one.) Such is Jim's general reluctance with romance-based continental peacocking, I half expected him to have altered the wording to "...You may now shake hands with the Bride and pat her on the back."
The only downer came when the Registrar asked me at a pivotal point to run to the back of the room where hired musicians were playing Elgar's solemn Nimrod, so I could tell them to shut up.
I've never had to silence a string quartet before.
Once the meal was over, I found myself as impromptu toastmaster, hushing the room by thumping the table with a spoon and announcing the speakers. Hindsight's a bugger of course, and it is only now as I commit my memory to blog, that I wish I gave my friend the groom a better introduction than three loud smacks with a spoon, followed by pointing at him and saying, 'Jim', before sitting down hastily. An audience, I know now, need some kind of direction, and a glowing build-up that would have ended with rapturous applause would've eased his nerves, as opposed to the few claps that he did get, more out of shock at my lousy work than any general dislike he may provoke.
Jim got his own back with what felt like a twenty-minute introduction that ended with, '...and now for the greatest Best Man's speech ever given in public.'
What followed obviously wasn't. It doesn't help that my friend, the morally upright, clean-living, thoroughly decent bastard that he is, has virtually no classic Best Man speech material in him; no tales of debauchery, no hard boozing, zero loose women, barely any rock and roll. (It's more Indie, really). Ghandi has a more chequered past than he does.
I did have a nice story from the days when we all went clubbing, though. We were moshing about during Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' when Jamie decided to shoulder-barge into Jim. This action propelled him across the length of the dancefloor, past assorted clubbers and glass-collectors, and through the emergency exit, where he dropped like a stone into an oil patch in the street outside.
Several hours later, somehow incapable of being drunk, I found myself in the hotel bar with Large Northern Flatmate and Hippy Dave, being commanded to "buy a drink for the blonde with the massive bangers" in the corner. Sat not that far from us. Within earshot.
So I did.
She said 'No', and immediately went to bed.
Nonetheless, I am left with very happy memories of the wedding; Large Northern Flatmate blubbing as he told Natalie what a brilliant new mother she is, Haggis apologising for the twelfth time for emailing me a list of obvious speech Do's and Don'ts (Do make it funny; Don't call the bride a cunt, etc.), Jamie getting shat on by a bird with good judgement during our Sunday morning walk in the park.
Moreover, there was something Feelgood Movie about that whole wedding; something to do with old friends, a little wrinklier, a little balder, a lot fatter, our arms round each other as we yelled out songs about Chevys and levees and rye.
And now I'm Thirty-fucking-Five, and I have been for precisely two days. I spent my birthday with two work colleagues; one, a shaven-headed Norwegian with a penchant for minimalist techno, the other a new French Senegalese intern I'd met that morning. I found it rather nice that he wanted to stop drinking after just one ale. I therefore spent my birthday plying lager, stout and whiskey to a shy nineteen-year-old lad who didn't want to drink. Said drinks also caused me to stand up and yell at the disinterested pub, "I'M THIRTY-FIVE TODAY!!!"
On the plus side, Edouard did say I looked 28, which greatly cheered me up.
I do wish he wouldn't start and end every day going up to every office member and shaking hands though. I don't have the heart to tell him that the British aren't that polite. We are however socially retarded, so I guess we'll all be shaking hands consistently for the next two months.