Sunday, 28 October 2007

Jon's birthday

“'It was the happiest day of my life', Dan said after Kathryn’s wedding."
“Oh!,” laughed my friend Bobby, as we sat having lunch. “Shouldn’t he have said marrying you was the best day of his life.”
“No. I don’t think so,” I said smiling back. “It certainly wasn’t mine. We were too young. You know I was pregnant with Jon, and it was all a bit of a rushed job. I didn’t want any fuss, but my mother insisted on us having a proper wedding, and I was too confused to argue.”
“Didn’t you walk home in your wedding dress?”
“Yes. Most of the day is just a blur to me. But there are three incidents I can remember. The first one was driving to the church with my dad telling me that it wasn’t too late for me to change my mind. The second was in the church, just before we made our vows. I was nervous and wondering what I was doing there. Dan took hold of my hand and squeezed it gently, and looking directly at me, he smiled. It was a smile that said, 'It’s going to be alright'.”
“Ah! Bobby said, “And it's still alright nearly forty years on.”
“And the third was the two of us leaving the reception without telling anyone, and walking through the town, me still in my wedding dress. We didn’t care.”
"It was a beautiful June evening, so you wouldn't have felt the cold."

“No, the happiest day of my life, was the day I gave birth to Jon, 39 years ago today.”

Massive mop head chrysanthemums Dan’s mum sent from the family - enormous heads, bright yellow, cheerful against the grey walls of the maternity home - blood red long stemmed roses from Dan - the baby - perfectly formed – screaming – clinging – hungry – needing me like no one had ever needed me before.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Attwood

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Blogger's Block

I haven’t felt inspired to write anything since the wedding. I’ve been too anxious about Jon’s release to concentrate.

A friend said, “Surely, you mustn’t feel as distressed now that his homecoming is so close.”
“I feel worse,” I said. “The closer it gets, the more anxious I’ve become about it all going wrong.”

He looked surprised as I reminded him that we’ve been trying to secure a date for Jon’s release for at least six months, and prior to that over the five and a half years he’s been inside we’ve never felt secure that it would all go ahead. It’s the uncertainty that cracks you up.

We’ve had more positive news this week, which has prompted me to get blogging again.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Attwood

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Trouble with TalkTalk

For a week now, we've had no connection to the server. Repeated calls by Dan, who has been kept holding on for as long as forty-five minutes before someone answered, to call centres everywhere from Hartlepool to India to South Africa, have failed to get us back online.

Dan runs his insurance business via the Internet so he's losing money. There's Jon's blogs to be posted, not to mention mine. After hours of following instruction from techies around the world, TalkTalk have agreed that it's not Dan's fault and are sending out an engineer. This could take three days.

Our kind nextdoor neighbour has lent us his laptop, so we are connected wirelessly. This will only pick up the signall in a certain corner of our dining room where Dan's set up a desk. I hate laptops. They make my back ache, but beggars can't be choosers. So here I am typing up this blog hunched over a laptop in the corner of the room.

Let's have some action TalkTalk.

Copyright © 2007 BarbaraAttwood

The Aftermath

The Morning After

29 Sept 2007

The 8.30am, alarm call woke us after barely four hours of sleep. We lay in the four-poster, surveying through the drapes, the Victorian opulence of our suite.
“I could make a habit of this,” I said to Dan.
“Getting married?” he replied.
“No! Living in luxury,” I said. “If this was the nineteenth century, I could pull the bell cord and a maid would appear to help me get out of bed, wash me and dress me.”
“Well it’s the twenty-first century and the tea making things are over there.”

Sipping our tea, still lying in bed, we went over all the old clich├ęs about how wonderful the wedding had been, laughing and recalling, the jokes, the speeches, Black Elvis, the dancing, and singing in the bar until 4.00.

Dressed and showered, without the assistance of servants, we went down to the breakfast room for a full English. The air was cool and the autumn sun shone weakly through the heavily curtained bays, on the faces of guests as they filtered in. Barely recognisable as the people who’d partied all night, they made their way to the tables. With white faces, dark circled eyes, and dishevelled hair, they ordered breakfast in horse croaky voices.

The best men, the bridesmaids and the bride and groom, appeared, to the accompaniment of rousing cheers, just before 10.00 at the final breakfast call, looking pale but happy, basking in the success of their wedding.
“One of the main attractions of this place,” Kathryn said laughing, “was the bedrooms. That’s what finally decided us, the Presidential suite with that massive four poster.”
“Yes,” said Aaron, “But we only spent two hours in it.”
“You can’t drive back to London today,” I said. “You’ll fall asleep at the wheel.”
“We’ll come back to yours and sleep for four and five hours and then travel down.”

Many of the guests, who had travelled from the south, were spending the day and night in the old Roman town of Chester before their return. With kisses, hugs, and we’ll see you at the christening (said out of earshot of the newly weds, and with blatant optimism on my part) we waved them goodbye.

Sat in the bay of her bedroom window, Kathryn waved like the lady of the manor, to her departing guests. Then, hanging out of the window, she whistled and shouted like a fish wife a final goodbye.

Kathryn and Aaron drove down to London that night and left for their honeymoon in Africa the following day, ten days on Safari (photographic) in Kenya, and ten days on the Spice Island, Zanzibar.

Copyright © 2007 BarbaraAttwood

Friday, 12 October 2007

Laughter, tears and crazy dancing

28 Sept 07

Reception continued...

Dan stood, as the Master of Ceremonies made the announcement, and, in accordance with traditional, the father of the bride gave his speech first.

Dan talked of his pride in Kathryn and our pleasure in her choice of partner.
The usual thank yous were followed by words of admiration of the bride, bridesmaids and all assembled “…the two first ladies, Barbara and Sarah have also scrubbed up well,” he said, “but they have had a year to get ready.” The guests responded with laughter and applause and Dan relaxed into his speech, delivering his jokes with perfect timing, often adlibbing.

As he spoke of Jon, “…who is with us in spirit…” I had to bite my lip, force back the tears and concentrate on being happy. Glancing around the room, sympathetic looks turned to applause for Jon.

For the inevitable anecdote from her childhood, Dan told how Kathryn aged seven produced her own newspaper, Kag's Rags drawing in pictures for photos, ending his speech with, “Well, she has her very own photographer now. Let’s toast the happy couple.

Refusing to have a drink before the speech in case he made a mess of it, Dan now relaxed and downed the waiting dinner wine and champagne while he listened to Aaron relate how he and Kathryn met on an assignment in Faliraki, Greece, while covering the ‘lager lout’ story. Aaron had been sent by default because another photographer, Pete couldn’t go, or they may never have met and none of us would be here.

His professions of love for Kathryn brought tears to Lizzy and her girls who sat directly in front of the top table dabbing their eyes. He thanked Lizzy for her favours (she made the ladies’ favours herself). She replied, "I'll do you a favour anytime, Aaron."

The two best men did a double act using the data projector to show images of Aaron in various embarrassing pics and poses from his childhood, ending in full combat gear in Afghanistan. Their witty commentary and banter with Aaron was such that only long time best friends could pull off.

The best, best man read out messages from people who couldn’t make it. One was from Jon:

Congratulations on getting married. It is with deep regret that I can’t be there. It is my hope that your marriage proves to be as fulfilling and rewarding as the union of our parents.
All the best and the best of luck,
Jon


Handkerchiefs were out again, mine included, dabbing away the pain.

Their grand coup was a videoed message to Aaron from a high-ranking politician who he regularly photographs, joking about their escapades in locations around the world, finally berating him for getting married at a time when his skills were most needed by the party, but congratulating the pair.

The emotion generated by tears, laughter, sorrow and joy were still circulating around the room bringing a feeling of warmth and togetherness, I’ve never experienced before.

Kathryn stood, “I’m not going to make a speech,” she announced. “I just want to thank everyone.” As we all applauded she told Dan and I that we were the best parents in the world, and told everyone of her love for Aaron (hankies out again) and how they were made for each other. “The evening’s just beginning,” she said grinning widely. “Let’s party all night.”

That’s exactly what we did.

With arms full of gifts, flowers and cards the evening guests arrived, filling the room. The usual lull while people sought Dutch courage from drink, didn’t happen. The dance floor was full from the start.
“Don’t let mum disappear,” Kathryn told Dan. “We’ve got a surprise.”

The surprise was Black Elvis, the impersonator we’d danced to in Fulham on the night, after we’d ordered the men’s morning suits. “You kept that quite,” I said to Kathryn, who like me, can’t keep a secret.
“Yes, we didn’t think he’d travel up North, but we paid his fare and he did.”

Black Elvis sang Can’t help falling in Love softly while Kathryn and Aaron danced their first dance. Everyone followed jiving, rock 'n rolling or generally moving their bodies around as Elvis gyrated, belting out a repertoire of the King’s music.

The DJ announced twice during the evening that Maple Court hadn’t seen such a party. After six encores, with the crowd stamping, shouting and whistling for his return, the lights dimmed and Elvis left the building. The DJ continued through the night. Kathryn, still wearing her wedding dress, standing tall on a chair in the middle of the room, swaying, waving her out stretched arms wildly above her head in time to the music, was the iconic sight of the evening. Eventually, maybe from fear of her falling on top of him, Aaron joined her, holding her hand, swaying, laughing, together.

In the lounge bar where the party continued till after 4.00 Dan said, “This has been the happiest day of my life.”

Copyright © 2007 BarbaraAttwood
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