Another Saturday, another wedding. This one was scary: out the front were sunglassed and besuited âmen in blackâ types, handing out copies of the âOrder of Serviceâ; on the way upstairs a sign insisted that there be âNo Paparazziâ. Dubbed (by its perpetrators) The Society Wedding of the Millenniumâ¢ this marriage involved a current batch of talented individuals and their extended network of friends â a bunch of people I have, for the most part, known for a decade, most of whom I havenât 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 â (sigh; as Allen Ginsberg never said, âI saw the best minds of my generation on Manning Bar balcony, in skimpy topsâ) â who I hadnât 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 couldnât 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 Iâd be leaving early. âCâmon Charles,â I insisted, âIâd leave my own wedding for a Radiohead concert.â He laughed and said âI might want to go to the concert, too.â I had to offer the last word: âthatâs quite ironic, because I might want to stay to consummate theâ¦â
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 â as long as he doesnât 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 couldnât possibly have a sense of humour that was well-informed and tolerant at the same time. And yet sheâs marrying Charles Firth â so she must.
The ceremony itself was spectacular â 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 âwait here and be admired by everyoneâ, and then, âget ready to walk down the aisleâ, 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, âhang on, I know you're ready to go, but thereâs just a bit more extemporising on this themeâ. And then, âokay, ready? Well Iâm not. A bit more fanfare and development.â 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 âOrder of Serviceâ, as âThe Brideâs Supporting Castâ and âThe Groomâs Supporting Castâ. The former, listed âin no particular orderâ, included such personages as a Chief Whip/Patron Feminist, a Bridemaster, a Ring Master, an Eyewitness to Nuptials (apparently âThe person legally required to declare, âOfficer, I saw the whole thingââ) and a Reader of Engels. The latter, listed as âfrom Best to Worstâ included the Best Man, the WeddingCorpâ¢ 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 âduring the first part of the service, the Guests should mill awkwardly and not sit downâ, 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 Brideâs Parents Bless Her Self-Propelled Decision to Wed, followed by âthe first unscheduled piece of sillinessâ. 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 arenât 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 âOrigins of the Familyâ. 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 Iâm 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 âhad raised the barâ. I donât 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 donât, for the simple reason that I had a dancefloor ticket to Radiohead.
Unlike last weekâs 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 donât 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 couldnât 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). Itâs a good thing I got away when I did.
Googling Gregor a little later, I discovered Gregorâs Semi-Automatic Live Journal Updaterâ¢. Perfect for the lazy blogger.