Tuesday, 23 May 2006
But I was just a child
- if not a chick. These are the latest members of the family; there is a fifth but it was left with Mum so that she wouldn't be worried. They skidded about on the dining table and the black one at the back has an anxious look in her eye. They were taken straight back after a cuddle and a photo.
My mind is drifting back in time today, trying to remember the 19-year-old Z, preparing for her wedding day. It’s not easy actually; as Sam Goldwyn (I think) said, we’ve all passed a lot of water since then.
I was not seen, even by myself, as a decisive girl. It took me years to realise that I was not indecisive, just not that bothered. Do this, do that? I don’t mind, you choose, you care, I don’t. Even now, I’m often the last to give an opinion and then it’s usually to agree. But in important decisions, there is no hesitation and no looking back.
I’d known him for three years, but simply as a family friend. It was not until January 1973 that when he was going, with a friend, to a big art exhibition in London to commemorate Britain joining the EEC, the Common Market (now the European Community) he asked if I’d like to join them and we got on very well. Things progressed fairly rapidly and before the end of February we were engaged.
My position was, we were going to get married, what’s stopping us. Just do it. But my hitherto more conventional fiancé wanted to go down the usual route with lots of guests and flowers in church. Okay, I’d go along with it, although I dreaded it, hating to be the centre of attention. Plans went ahead and bookings were made for a date in August.
But he felt the pressure too. In mid May he said “You were right. Let’s elope. Your mum can hold the ladder.” His parents were going on holiday on the 24th and he suggested we get married on the 25th and drive up to their hotel in Scotland to surprise them.
In a moment of surprising maturity, I refused. I was not going to start life as a daughter-in-law by giving them a horrible shock, and I made him go to see his parents and tell them, and book the marriage (by special licence) for the 24th.
So, I had just three people attend my wedding, apart from the Sage and the registrar: my mother, my mother-in-law and my father-in-law; my father had died three years before. I apologised to my sister (I’m ruthless but fair) because I did not intend to invite the Sage’s sister and family as they would make too much fuss with confetti and nonsense.
We retained the booking for the reception and honeymoon in August though, always up for a jolly.
It was a long time before it dawned on me that people assumed we had brought the wedding forward because I was pregnant. I wasn’t, so it was a good thing I turned up for the party three months later looking cheerfully svelte. But, looking at the photos of the occasion, absurdly young.