Another Saturday, another wedding. This one was scary: out the front were sunglassed and besuited ‘men in black’ types, handing out copies of the ‘Order of Service’; on the way upstairs a sign insisted that there be ‘No Paparazzi’. Dubbed (by its perpetrators) The Society Wedding of the Millennium™ this marriage involved a current batch of talented individuals and their extended network of friends – a bunch of people I have, for the most part, known for a decade, most of whom I haven’t seen for the better part of it. Indeed, many constitute my own unreliable memoir (for that must be the collective term) of expats, ever-so-briefly repatriated for the sake of this event. All the blokes scrubbed up well. It was the women – (sigh; as Allen Ginsberg never said, “I saw the best minds of my generation on Manning Bar balcony, in skimpy tops”) – who I hadn’t seen for ages that I most regret having to scarper from.
But scarper I had to: there was a dancefloor ticket to Radiohead with my name on it. Indeed, I even received a round of applause from my table when I got up to leave. One of the re-pats insisted that I must stay while another deeply regretted the fact that he couldn’t join me. And in fact, when I first received the invitation to this wedding, I confessed to the happy couple, Charles Firth and Amanda Tattersall that I’d be leaving early. “C’mon Charles,” I insisted, “I’d leave my own wedding for a Radiohead concert.” He laughed and said “I might want to go to the concert, too.” I had to offer the last word: “that’s quite ironic, because I might want to stay to consummate the…”
This vulgar attempt at humour was politely tolerated, and understandibly so. Charles Firth may not be a comic genius, but he is the sort of talented humorist who may well be described as one by future generations – as long as he doesn’t make the mistake of believing his own hype, such as pronouncements by people like me that while he is not exactly a comic genius, he may well be described as one some time in the future. So Amanda Tattersall, his then-wife-to-be, was used to such politically incorrect statements being made. The beauty is that Amanda works in politics; she is the Special Projects Officer of the Labor Council. She couldn’t possibly have a sense of humour that was well-informed and tolerant at the same time. And yet she’s marrying Charles Firth – so she must.
The ceremony itself was spectacular – a comedy extravaganza to which I will fail to do justice in attempting to describe. For starters, the Wedding March, composed by Elliott Wheeler, contained the requesite cadence point that said to the bride ‘wait here and be admired by everyone’, and then, ‘get ready to walk down the aisle’, at which point she tearily embraced her parents. Then, I swear, the music was composed so thoroughly and excellently that it ably communicated the message, ‘hang on, I know you're ready to go, but there’s just a bit more extemporising on this theme’. And then, ‘okay, ready? Well I’m not. A bit more fanfare and development.’ The dearly beloved that had gathered were laughing in all the right places. Finally, the music enabled the bride to take that walk. Who on earth understands music and comedy well enough to compose music soliciting perfectly timed laughter? Elliott Wheeler, evidently.
The wedding party consisted of two camps described, in the ‘Order of Service’, as ‘The Bride’s Supporting Cast’ and ‘The Groom’s Supporting Cast’. The former, listed ‘in no particular order’, included such personages as a Chief Whip/Patron Feminist, a Bridemaster, a Ring Master, an Eyewitness to Nuptials (apparently “The person legally required to declare, ‘Officer, I saw the whole thing’”) and a Reader of Engels. The latter, listed as ‘from Best to Worst’ included the Best Man, the WeddingCorp™ CEO, the Middle Man, the Lord of the Ring and the Worst Man. There was a Civil Celebrant, but more importantly, there was also an Uncivil Celebrant, played by Toma Dim.
The ceremony, commencing with the directive that “during the first part of the service, the Guests should mill awkwardly and not sit down”, began at 3:45 pm with The Panic of the Groom, followed twenty minutes later with The Sheepish Re-admission of the Groom. Then The Triumphant, Unflappable Arrival of the Non-Panicking Bride took place, to that fantastic Elliott Wheeler soundtrack. More entrances of pageboy and bridal party until The Bride’s Parents Bless Her Self-Propelled Decision to Wed, followed by ‘the first unscheduled piece of silliness’. The first unscheduled piece of silliness turned out to be the Ceremonial Signing of the Pre-Nuptual Agreement. (This was humorous; it had to be. Pre-nuptual agreements aren’t recognised in Australian law.)
The first, and only, reading was taken from the Book of Engels (Chapter 4, Verse 2), which spoke of the role of the woman in marriage, and is taken from the chapter entitled ‘Origins of the Family’. The marriage vows were especially funny; Charles vowing to agree with Amanda after a long argument, but only when he knows that she was right; Amanda promising to honour and respect Charles's media empire, trifling though it still may be (see here and here); and Charles, raising the biggest laugh, by acknowledging how important Amanda is to his life, even though he thought he was pretty damn cool before he met her; but I’m not going to do anyone justice paraphrasing and misquoting the gags. Suffice it to say that there were plenty of media-types and their loved ones looking at each other, absolutely cacking, agreeing that Charles and Amanda ‘had raised the bar’. I don’t know whether I should campaign for a DVD release with commentary, or just steal the tapes and bootleg it myself. I really regret having to leave before the speeches. But then again, I don’t, for the simple reason that I had a dancefloor ticket to Radiohead.
Unlike last week’s wedding, at which champagne flowed after the ceremony and not before, this time I stood in the wrong place, refused to put my glass down and failed to turn down refills, all the while snapping shots with my other hand. Thus, I don’t have many photos of the evening. Certainly, few that I am proud of.
Okay, just the one.
I was very pleased to catch up with an old friend, Gregor Stronach, whose partner I couldn’t help but inadvertantly assault. When we were having cigarettes on the balcony, I ashed in just the right spot where the wind could catch it and blow it straight into her eye. Later, as the first course was being served, I managed to splatter her with chicken gravy as I failed to hold the serving dish horizontally (too much champagne). It’s a good thing I got away when I did.
Googling Gregor a little later, I discovered Gregor’s Semi-Automatic Live Journal Updater™. Perfect for the lazy blogger.