It’s an hour till where elsewhere they’d be calling time, but it’s a hotel (and a wedding) and so there’ll be none of that here. So why am I drinking blackcurrant and lemonade? Why then do I sit in a big old hall, nearly alone, with a book and for company the sounds of others having fun? Ah but it is you see, a very bad wedding.
“So you say.”
I do. I did, albeit not out loud. Mme Roux like everyone takes it as common knowledge that if I am holding a book I am short of company. If I am reading it I want conversation. Here and for once that might be true.
I say, “I don’t know anybody.”
“And you are hungry?”
I am. It took us five hours to drive here. Q my good lady has been invited to this wedding, one of her oldest friends and not seen for an age and three days. We arrive having taken permission from Tolly Maw to do so, Q, myself and the sprouts our daughters. Catnip and Bosswell. We arrive and the service is fine and then here and the hotel – where we have Bucks Fizz to drink. And I cannot, because fizzy wine would bring on my gout. Which is why Mme Roux has plopped herself next to me, here much later. So fizzy wine and then much later we are in the reception - and the speeches are first.
They are long and without a few hours boozing, a little lost on me.
At length and we are served. First compote I cannot eat. Then for the main – roast beef, which I cannot eat and with juices lovingly touching all else. There is more fizzy wine to drink, also red wine. I can again have neither. There is a single bottle of white, between eight of us. There is talk of ties, of cars, and other things. I am unable to join in, I am the only man here with neither. At length there is a pudding. It is a rich chocolate tart. Not being eight, I have to pass. I have a bread roll. I drink water. Bread and water. Jolly good.
Now we are here as said because this is a friend of Q. Now Q and I do not have the benefit of others, or the benefits indeed. Our family live not close. We have no one to take our sprouts for a while. We cannot go out then, not together. And this time it is her time. I will take the sprouts back to the hotel room (too hot, too stuffy). I will read. This is acceptable, more than.
But Q is feeling ill. She is not well. She goes back to our room and by eight in the evening she and the sprouts are asleep. The light has to be out. I know... no one. It is in any case a kit wedding. A hotel, probably expensive but frankly awful. There is a band, they are playing Radar Love. The women are dancing. The men are sweating at the bar. There is between them barbed wire, whizz bangs and sinkholes.
I am therefore in the room beyond. Alone with my book and a soft drink because I cannot read in my hotel room. It is dark you might recall.
“But tomorrow you are going to hitch onwards?”
I was indeed. There and not far to meet up with a chum and go then to meet two other chums. Then I will hitch across the country home – because of the Rutger pieces. Look them up. Just there on the right.
And now it is morning and no one wants me to go. Catnip is also having an episode because early, and onset and she’s not all there at times. And just such a time is now. So I can’t and we turn about back for Tolly Maw.