04 Jun 08
Mum and Dad’s Ruby Wedding Anniversary
Charging into our house six hours before the party was scheduled to begin, Aunty Lily seized control of the kitchen and set about hustling up a buffet. Beef pies. Cheese-and-onion pies. Butter-potato-and-onion pies. White and brown salmon and egg rolls. Chicken-and-stuffing sandwiches. Mushroom pasta. Mini pizzas. Chicken goujons. Savoury rice. Prawn rice. Mini tartlets. Coconut macaroon cakes.
Some of the first people to arrive were Mum’s teacher friend, Kath, who brought her son, Kieran, and his new bride, Yoko, who if let loose on a catwalk would easily put Anne Watanabe to shame.
“You’re invited to our wedding party in Manchester on the twenty-eighth,” Kieran said.
“I am looking forward to it,” I said.
“Yoko’s bringing ten single Japanese women just like her,” Kieran said. They may be looking for husbands.”
“What?” I said. “Ten more of her!”
“Not ten. I think about nine,” Yoko said. “One is engaged. They’re all about my age, twenty-nine.”
“Are you going to introduce me to all nine?”
“Of course. There are many many opportunities with them for you. But they’re only here for a few days, so you’ll have to be quick-quick-quick,” Yoko said, snapping her fingers. “They’re staying at the Midland hotel. You should stay at the hotel with us.”
“It sounds like paradise,” I said.
“Just wait till you meet her father,” Kieran said. “He looks like Odd Job and he has a voice like Lee Marvin – the furniture rattles when he speaks. You should see him do karaoke in the Lee Marvin voice.”
“Kieran’s terrified of him,” Kath said.
“He’s a judo master who crushes walnuts in his bare hands,” Kieran said. “He showed me the swords in his samurai room.”
“Is he a member of the yakuza?” I asked.
“No, but he owns his own construction company, so when the yakuza gangsters come and ask him for money, he throws them around with Japanese techniques,” Yoko said, demonstrating by throwing an air person. “Then they say, ‘I’m sorry.’ One guy he threw had to have an operation.”
Among the neighbours to attend were Posh Bird and her parents, John and Julie.
Arriving with an envelope, my aunt Sue said, "You must open it now."
Dad opened it, and said, "My God. Look at this. It's tickets for Queen with Paul Rogers at the Manchester Evening News' stadium."
In a packed house, Dad commenced his speech:
“Thanks everybody for coming along and helping Barbara and I to celebrate this special day. Thank you for the cards and gifts, and a big thank you to Lily for the marvellous buffet. It’s also very special to have Shaun joining in the celebrations with us.
We’re a bit jetlagged at the moment as yesterday we came back from a week in New York. Barbara managed to drag me to Tiffany’s on 5th Ave, but as luck would have it they were stocktaking on that day.
1968 seems such a long time ago now. Beer was six pence a pint. Petrol was five bob a gallon. And you could buy a house for two-thousand quid or less.
Louis Armstrong had the best selling single of the year. Can anyone guess the song?”
“‘What a Wonderful World!”
“That’s right,” Dad said. “Lots of momentous things happened that year. Riots and revolution in France. President Johnson signed the civil rights bill. The first astronauts orbited the moon. And Barbara and I got married at St Bede’s church on the first of June.
At the time, many people said it wouldn’t last – we were barely out of our teens and basically still kids. But here we are forty years on and still very much together.
Couples are often asked when they’ve been married for a long time, ‘What’s the secret? How come you have managed it?’ and so on. Replies are often along the lines of, ‘Give and take,’ ‘Working it through,’ ‘Ups and downs.’ Well that’s all true, but my answer would be is that we still love each other very much. Barbara is still the same big-eyed beautiful girl that I married that hot June day back in 1968."
Mum started to cry.
"Please raise your glasses to my wife Barbara.”
The champagne flutes took to the air.
“I was going to make a speech, but I’m too emotional,” Mum said, drying her eyes with a napkin. She then did the rounds showing off her new one-carat-diamond white-gold ring.
“It’s gorgeous,” Posh Bird said.
“Don’t do any house work with that on,” Julie said.
Posh Bird and I chatted. I managed to spill champagne on her mum, Julie’s, leg. Later on, Julie reciprocated by spilling beer on mine. Julie was so charming – she proposed I should be her ballroom-dancing partner, and invited me over for Christmas dinner.
“We don’t cater for vegetarians,” Posh Bird yelled.
“Bugger her. I’m inviting you,” Julie said.
As my chances of dating Julie now seem to be considerably higher than my chances of dating her daughter, when Posh Bird’s dad takes his next work trip to Norway, I am going to see if her mum will elope with me.
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Copyright © 2007-2008 Shaun P. Attwood