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The Wedding18 April 2011 Zie Nederlandse versie
by Arnold Jansen op de Haar
For years my sister has been earmarking hats for my wedding; proper hats, not fascinators. A fascinator is one of these tiny concoctions worn at a jaunty angle on one’s head. They are very popular at the moment because they show off the hairdo.
I expect that at William and Kate’s wedding Andrew and Sarah’s daughters will sport one of these bird’s nests on their head. At my wedding I shall ban fascinators because they are rarely flattering.
Up to about twenty years ago I regularly attended traditional weddings because all my contemporaries were tying the knot. I was in turn witness, member of the guard of honour and organiser of the stag night. On one occasion, as best man, I dealt with everything. It took me a month to recover.
When I am in London I occasionally run into wedding guests: I am in a pub and suddenly three men in kilts enter. They are obviously from the Punjab but one-sixteenth Scottish. Usually they are followed by a girl struggling to walk in high heels. The wedding service is still fifteen minutes away, so there is just about time for a quick pint and the girl disappears to the ladies to attach the fascinator.
‘How do you know the bride or groom?’ is the most asked question at weddings, because even distant relatives and obscure friends from the past have been invited. The couple’s mothers keep busy by aimlessly checking arrangements, while their fathers stand about smiling uncomfortably.
At one point I stopped going to weddings; too often I felt the urge to shout ‘Don’t do it!’ at the happy couple.
However, birthdays followed, and ten years on the bride and groom have started to resemble each other, in most cases not to their advantage. Their children also rarely turn out to be improved specimens.
At one of these birthdays I was confronted by two primary school teachers on a sofa – colleagues of the hostess. They were fully aware that this new arrival – me – was still unmarried.
I could hear their heads turn; the teachers suffered stiff necks only to look startled: he is bald!
‘I’ll be back’ I muttered like Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator and continued straight to the back door, out into the garden and on to the refreshments. ‘Hello,’ said the hostess taking my arm, ‘have you met my colleagues?’ That is when I gave up on birthdays.
Currently I have entered a new phase: one of divorces. After decades, the bridegrooms of my youth are frequenting pubs again. It seems a weight has been lifted; suddenly they are full of boyish exuberance and I am the friend with time on his hands. They confide in me and, in quite a different way, I am again a witness.
In spite of this I fantasise about getting married especially as my sister has selected a marvellous hat and ‘several dresses’.
I am becoming more and more exacting: I prefer a redhead and she can’t be a lesbian or married. This turned out to be a minor hitch for some of my marriage candidates: ‘Yes, we’re kissing but actually I’m a lesbian.’ Life is full of surprises.
Each prospective mother-in-law strikes me as no match for my mother and a prospective father-in-law makes me think: my own is jollier even though he is dead.
I am a lost cause but on April 29th I am in London. Maybe I will go to Hyde Park to watch the big screen because, yes, you can’t help getting carried away by this particular wedding.
So in the unlikely case that you are a red-headed authoress with deceased parents and attracted to overweight, bald writers wearing glasses, please head towards Hyde Park on the 29th to claim your fascinator.
I promise our wedding will be a private affair; we’ll never go out visiting and will keep our own separate identity, but produce children more adorable than us.
© Arnold Jansen op de Haar
© Translation Holland Park Press
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