Monday, July 10, 2006
The Wedding Weekend
I think I can safely say that everyone who attended the wedding of my sister, Fiona, to Nolon, had a wonderful time this weekend. The whole event was just terrific. It had everything; excitement, fun and high jinks mixed with romance, love and happiness and all of it set in the most wonderful Scottish setting high in the Perthshire countryside.
My parents had already made their way up on Wednesday and when we left today the sun was beating down. For a two night stay the amount of gear we had with us was somewhat surprising, if you are not accustomed to travelling with ladies. I, on the other hand am, and my shoulder was at breaking point as I lugged our case to the train station.
We boarded the train but not before the whole of Waverly came to a halt to honour the dead and bereaved of the London Bombings, which went off one year ago today. For two minutes there was absolute silence and it seemed as though time itself had come to an end.
I remember that day very well. I was off work and had Sky News on in the background as I tidied the house before intending to write for the rest of the day. It was not to be, as the my memory reminds me of the constant sirens, the looks of grief and pain and the sheer horror, confirming I was witnessing the arrival of the 'War on Terror' to our shores. It had only been a matter of time, of course, but the anger and disbelief that swept through the nation was palpable.
One year on and the threat remains. For those that had their lives ended or changed we cannot turn back the clock. But we can try to make this country a safer place to live and we can fight on for the cause of freedom and for our way of living, which we so often take for granted.
It should be remembered that despite the London bombings and all the other atrocities that have happened in Britain, we still live in one of the top three safest countries in the world. And that is not a fluke. We should take stock and remember that not every country in the world affords its citizens the rights that we get; the ability to walk down the street when we want, say what we want, do what we want and be who we want without fear.
The journey to Perth was lovely. We journeyed through beautiful roaming countryside with a bright blue sky above and arrive in Perth at about half past three. My Dad came to pick us up and we were checked into the hotel for four o'clock. By ten past four we were in the bar and meeting up with Nolon's family - mother, father and two brothers - for the first time.
We took our drinks outside onto the lawn at the rear of the Murrayshall Hotel, overlooking the golf course and expansive countryside and several other people soon joined the party. Fiona turned up and gave some of us a tour of the Bridal Suite (bloody huge!) and eventually Nolon dragged himself from his kip to join us for a Guinness. Yes - he was sleeping. If he pulls a stunt like that when he's married he’ll be a dead man. I'm very experienced in these matters.
After a few drinks and lots of conversation we all headed back to our rooms to get freshened up and changed for dinner. The main restaurant was expecting sixteen family and close friends of the happy couple for dinner and we sat down to a gorgeous meal at 7 pm. The food was exquisite; I had Breast of Gressingham Duck with braised red onion to start and Pheasant with Quail's Egg for the main.
The several pints of pre-meal Guinness mixing with several more glasses of red wine, was beginning to go to my head. Spirits were high and the laughter was loud, and when I overheard my Mum say, "One Step Beyond," I instinctively burst into a rendition of the famous Madness tune. In the restaurant. Full of posh people from Buckinghamshire and places like that.
I was as loud as I feared, and took shelter outside until the glares from other tables died down and the laughter from mine subsided.
After dinner everyone retired to the Cocktail Bar. Vodka and Red Bulls became the order of the day and everyone was having a great time. Fiona presented me with a bottle of 12-Year Old Balvennie Malt in advance for doing my reading, a gift that was far too much I though, but one that I had no intention of returning.
Eventually people started to go their rooms and by midnight the only people remained were a reluctant Groom, his two brothers, his Best Man and me. Trouble was brewing and it was me who eventually initiated a halt to the proceedings when we realised we had drunk until sunrise and that Nolon was getting married in a few hours.
This was when he mentioned he had deliberately kept me apart from his Best Man at the Stag parties because the two of us together spelt trouble with a capital V (for vodka). He was right of course, and we finally retired around 4am.
I remember crawling up the stairs to Room 1, where my wife and daughter had gone to sleep many hours before. My intention was not to wake them, but when I sat on the spare bed, having allowed them both the Queen Size, my plan came to a shuddering halt when it collapsed under me, sending splinters of wood onto the floor and the sound of Gail's expletives echoing through the dark.
Saturday 8th July 2006 - Wedding Day
Gail had set the alarm for 8am and when she rose found me sleeping on the floor on all fours, moving her to assume something was very wrong with me. There was, of course, and it was called the hangover from hell.
With only our hours sleep under my belt, but a strong desire not to see an expensive breakfast go uneaten, I managed to drag my swimming head and floppy body down to the restaurant for a full Perthshire Platter breakfast. Bacon, eggs, sausage, mushroom, toast etc. were all there and all stomach-churningly greasy, despite being expertly displayed on the finest of china plates.
I forced as much down as I could, using the logic that food might help the horrible feeling I had to go away.
It didn't and I went back to bed for a few hours, while Gail started getting herself ready for the wedding and Laura went into Perth to get her hair done with my Mum and Lindsay, the other bridesmaid.
I slept until 1pm. Gail was not amused but I badly needed it. Yes, I admit, I overdid it the previous night but it had to be done. I was getting to know my future BIL's brothers and pals. It's a man's thing, a rite of passage if you will.
I donned my kilt and then had a new experience when I had to dress my own father. He's only worn a kilt once before (at my own wedding) and so there I was, doing his laces and tucking in his flashes, sorting the kilt and getting his sporran straight. A flash into the future, perhaps? I hope not.
At 3pm almost everyone had gathered in the Rose Garden behind the hotel, a beautiful two-tiered garden surround by flowers, making it perfect for an outdoor wedding. The rain was off and sun was out, despite a couple of showers early morning, and I was feeling like my old self again. The Groom and Best Man were in place, all family and friends were present and we all awaited the arrival of the Bridal Party.
Then Gail asked me where the camcorder was.
Panic stations! I had left it in the room! Off I shot through the interior of the hotel, grabbed the camera and roared back out to the garden. I made it in the nick of time because Fiona, in keeping with tradition, kept Nolon waiting almost a full ten minutes before turning up.
The ceremony was short and romantic. I read out my poem, Love Is, though on reflection I recited it far too fast. A sudden attack of nerves just before the wedding started saw to that. At about twenty past three, my sister became Fiona Owen and the words, "husband and wife" caused a few tears to be shed, mostly by my old Mum.
The ceremony concluded and we all walked round to the fountain area of the gardens for champagne while the photographs were taken of the happy couple. The meal followed during which one of the funniest Best Man speeches I have heard took place. Stuart hit Nolon with line after line of insults and it was a great laugh, all taken in great form.
There was much dancing and drinking throughout the night and what I enjoyed most was being able to catch-up with all the relatives I missed at my own wedding. Such was the occasion, I just never got round everyone that day, but now I could really make sure I got round everyone I rarely get to see these days.
It all came to an end just before 4am, yet again, in the Cocktail Lounge. Tired and exhausted we eventually retired, although me and Gail had one finally Bloody Mary in the room before the lights went out.
Sunday 9th July 2006 - First Day of Bliss
Everyone had breakfast at the same time on the Sunday, though it was a lot quieter in the restaurant than it had been over the past couple of mornings. There were a LOT of sore heads, white faces, hoarse voices and droopy eyes.
Strangely enough, I felt quite perky but that all changed later in the day when I became very tired. Myself, Gail and Laura got the mid-day train back to Edinburgh and were home about 2pm. Gail went to bed and I went out to check on my rabbits and watch TV for the rest of the day.
When we got back there were a couple of my SAE's waiting for me, both concerning Hunting Jack. Both were rejections but I was so tired I really had no energy to think about it much.
Monday 10th July 2006
The only think I wanted come Monday morning was to sleep long into the day. Unfortunately I had to go to the Eye Clinic in Glasgow to get my new lenses tried out. This meant being on the 9am train. The check-up was over quickly and I was able to get the 11am train back to Edinburgh, but still had to take return my kilt. So it was straight back home to get it then back into the city to return it. When I got to the shop they said it was a day late so I bartered over the ten pound charge and they let me off.
On my way to work I called ahead since it was almost half past three. I had been on the go all day and was truly shattered especially since the humidity was off the scale. I decided not to go into the office since my colleague said it was dead anyway. I headed home happy I didn't have to face the place, though annoyed I had worn my shirt and tie for no good reason on a hot summer's day.
I've yet to transfer the photographs I took from the video onto the PC but when I do I'll post a few up here for you to see. There are some crackers of what was a great day.
So that was it. The weekend of the marriage of my sister, Fiona, to a great guy, Nolon Owen. Congratulations to you both. I have no doubt they will be have long and happy life together. Nolon's a magic bloke and I'm delighted he's the one.
I thin it was my other sister, Lindsay, who noticed that both he and Gail, the two people who have fitted in best to our family like a good drink and a party. Wether it's a pre-requisite or not, I don't know, but a trend has certainly formed.
Some of you may be wondering about the reading I wrote and performed for the wedding ceremony. Now that I've read it aloud, I can publish it here on the blog. Back to normal and work tomorrow. I'm almost happy about it!
by Colin Galbraith
For Fiona and Nolon - July 8th 2006
The diamond twinkle in a lover's eye,
The knowing of hope and not of why,
The laughter, the tears, together on high,
The embrace of two hearts through fall or rise.
Love is a river, winding and deep,
Sparkling rapids and weirs to leap,
Love is the wind, the birds and trees,
Ocean to ocean, soaring and free.
Love is a mountain, the deepest hole,
A silent promise from heart to soul,
Love is a whisper of quiet devotion,
Two hearts beating in silent motion.
Love is forever - love is peace,
Love is united - love is...