The most vivid dream

If you’re getting married in the near future, one piece of advice will be offered regularly by those who have already said their vows: ‘Sit back and take it in – it will go by in an instant.’

And it is great advice, because it does. Only, it’s advice which is almost impossible to follow, as the frequency with which you’re offered it goes some way to proving. I got married to my lovely lady of ten years, Lindsey, last week and it already seems like an age ago. The entire day was like an incredibly rich, vivid dream. Even looking at the pictures now feels like we’re peering in on an event we weren’t part of.

People you know are at every turn, smiling, shaking your hand, kissing your cheek, wishing you well and taking photos. Professional photographers follow you down the street ‘papping’ you as you make your way to church. Your friends and family throw small bits of multicoloured paper at you which end up in your mouth, lodged in your ears and down the front of your trousers. Beautiful, old cars await your arrival, champagne on ice. Red carpets guide you into a building where everyone continues to congratulate you and erupt with applause as you enter the room and head to your table for something to eat. And, to cap it all off, your best mate unearths all manner of embarrassing stories from the past and uses props for maximum impact.

It is, in a word, overwhelming.

Satisfyingly, things went a bit wrong, too. In the church, Lindsey momentarily forgot which hand was her left – twice – and the vicar dropped my ring… twice (and no, that is not a euphemism – something you have to squeeze in whenever the word ‘ring’ is used). At the reception, the photographer ushered us all out to what looked like a beautiful flat piece of grass only for us to find that it had an 80% incline, thus proving particularly treacherous for the older guests and what technically amounted to a request for death-defying stunt work for the ladies in high heels.

My speech was interrupted by one of our pageboys farting just as I mentioned his mum’s name and my big moment in the spotlight also suffered a dramatic loss of structure when we discovered the presents for everyone had seemingly been hidden in random locations throughout the room by the hotel staff.

Our toastmaster also disappeared. That’s understandable – he was a busy man, but choosing the moment after I requested we cut the cake to perform his Houdini act was slightly inconvenient.

My dad, who kindly agreed to make an appearance as Elton John, quite rightly made an enormous song and dance (literally) about my new wife playing the part of Kiki Dee and joining him for Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.¬†Unfortunately, in all the excitement, he forgot to introduce me on piano. I’m not at all complaining as I wasn’t particularly keen on drawing attention to myself, but this did mean I had to sidle onto the stage and sit down at the keys looking a bit like an unwanted, forgotten band member. This must have been particularly surprising for those who didn’t know I played and I wouldn’t blame them for thinking I was either lost, preparing for an ill-judged joke or monumentally drunk (or possibly all three).

But you know what? I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. I just wish someone could have hit the pause button halfway through.

Wedding week diary – Wednesday: Lonely coffee

There’s an art to the way in which you conduct yourself while alone in public places that are typically reserved for mutual enjoyment. This is of particular importance in pubs and an art in which my dad excels. He’s been visiting pubs on his own for as long as I can remember and I’m sure many years before that. This isn’t because he hasn’t got any friends or because he takes any chance he can to get away from the house, but simply because my father is perfectly comfortable sitting there on his own, enjoying a pint of beer or glass of wine.

I’m a novice. However, travelling the country alone has certainly warmed me to the idea that having just yourself for company is, actually, alright. I’ve had some pretty stimulating conversations with me. I’ve even argued to the point where I need one of ‘us’ to leave the room before it gets ugly.

Today, halfway through a dog walk, I fancied a coffee. So, I entered the nearest pub I could find and approached the bar.

You have to give off an air of confidence in order to achieve maximum lonesome nirvana. Not over-confidence, as that simply renders you a tit. No, just an indication to those around you that you may be alone but you’re perfectly happy with the fact and do not require their sympathy. This often means striking up meaningless conversations, off the cuff. I’m not great at this, I’ll admit, which is probably why I asked the barman: ‘What coffees do you have, mate?’

This took him a little by surprise, as my windswept, shaven-headed appearance should only ever result in a request for ‘man drinks’ like real ale. Suggesting that all I was interested in was Americanised, needlessly complicated varieties of coffee was dangerous.

He duly listed all the coffees they could whip up and I plumped for a cappuccino.

I then browsed the paper rack. ‘They’re all Sunday’s papers, mate,’ said my new barman friend (I figured we were close enough now to refer to him as so – we’d been through so much together).

‘No problem,’ I said, picking up a dog-eared copy of the Mail on Sunday. And it wasn’t a problem. I was going to read three-day old news simply because I could. That’s what us loners do. We drop our pants and fart in the face of conformity.

I got bored of the paper very quickly and ended up playing Cut The Rope on my iPhone instead. That, too, lost its appeal, so I took a photo of my coffee. I’m not sure why I did that and, unfortunately, my new mate caught me doing so. To his credit, he pretended he hadn’t witnessed it and got on with his duties.

Realising I was in over my head, I decided to leave. Another thing my dad is good at is saying goodbye to bar staff in every pub he visits. Unfortunately, my misjudged beverage paparazzi episode seemed to have forced my ex barman friend to get as far away from me as possible. The pub was suddenly empty. There was no one to say goodbye to, so I trundled out. Alone.

I don’t need your sympathy, though. It was fine. Really.

Anyone fancy a pint?

Wedding week diary – Monday: Hot sandwiches and scary cows

Cows: scary.

Today, I bought a sandwich toaster, a torch, about four hundred AA batteries and very nearly got into a fight with a cow.

And so begins a week with a somewhat surreal air to it – my last week as an unmarried man.

The sandwich toaster and torch bits were easy. I’ve lost count of how many of the former I’ve bought in my life but the number is dangerously close to rendering them a disposable item. The batteries were unplanned, but, then, they always are. It doesn’t matter that I’ll take fourteen years to use the mountain I ended up carting back to the car. No, there’s just something comforting about stocking up on the little cylindrical bundles of energy, even if you have absolutely no use for them at all.

There’s nothing comforting, however, about being eyeballed by twenty-seven cows while in a field with only your dog for company. And that’s exactly what happened to me this evening.

I don’t care how soft this sounds – cows are scary. Sure, they look cute and harmless chewing grass as you admire them from the safety of your driving seat, but as soon as you get within fifty yards of them – on foot – they stop, raise their heads and just stare at you. All of them. I think there was even one playing the piano who also stopped, put down his scotch and swung his head in my direction.

At first, you think they’re perhaps just a bit stupid and therefore struggling to make out what the two-legged creature approaching them is. Then you realise they’re not stupid at all. Like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park, they’re weighing you up. They’re working together, sussing you out. The bull, in particular, who was about the size of a small village, followed my every move as I clumsily and pathetically stumbled around the field, searching for an alternate exit (they had surrounded the only gate offering escape).

All in all, it took me about twenty minutes to pluck up the courage to scurry past them, practically hugging the fence (until I spotted it was electrified). My dog, who had frozen with fear moments earlier, was tucked under my arm, head bobbing as I speed-minced my way to the gate.

The cows shrugged and got back to what they were doing. The unexpected entrance of a bearded Paris Hilton had clearly lost it’s appeal.

I’m not sure what happens after you get married, but I’m pretty sure that, as the husband, I’ll need to man up a bit.