( A piece dedicated to my lovely niece, Joanna. Here she is. Lovely, see.)
There’s an awful lot of it about. Wedding fever, that is. I have three weddings to attend this summer. Three! That’ll be three frocks, then. No doubling up. Bite the bullet, I say, and avoid any whisperings. You know the ones….. “She’s wearing what she wore at Jack’s. Poor cow. Serves her right for not having a proper job.” Nobody needs family pity, do they? I’m not a fan of frocks. I look like my Auntie Edna in most of them. I was fond of my Auntie Edna but she was no fashion slave. Plus she was ancient. And I look ancient in a frock. But for a wedding (or three) you kind of have to get a grip and face up to the fact that you’re going to have to wear one. So the first step is, of course, to lose at least two stone. Always the solution. Easy. Because, you surmise, if you can lose two stone then maybe – just maybe – there’ll be a frock out there somewhere that won’t make you look like a three piece suite on its way to the municipal dump. But aside from the punitive diet, another challenge has been thrown into the mix. One of the weddings, my niece’s, is in Italy. In a lemon grove. A LEMON GROVE! Suck on that one, people! How cool and chic is that? Ok – so slightly complicated logistics re flights and cars and co-ordinating other family members and you do need a PhD in Applied Physics to navigate the website but hey! It’s all good. A few glasses of wine and a diazepam later and I’ve filled in the special dietary requirements and ticked all the requisite boxes re accommodation and length of stay – even if I had to be “chased” to do so. (The ignominy. The shame.) I’ve got to say it’s a cracking excuse for a holiday and I’m so up for it. Excited beyond words. Tuscany! A lemon grove! I mean, for God’s sake!
(This is a random lemon grove. Not THE lemon grove. Just for atmosphere.)
HOWEVER – and here’s the snagerette – there’s a dress code; a dress code that requires, and I quote…. “Italian Glamour with a hint of Burnt Sienna.” Yeah. If that isn’t throwing down the gauntlet, I don’t know what is. Mighty challenge. On both fronts, in fact. Even though I know that this is a tongue-in-cheek addition to the marvellously “camp-and-yet-tasteful” wedding invite, I feel the need to comply. It’s what you do at weddings. So, ever on the look-out for really important displacement activities, I’ve had a bit of a “google about” and we are in Disasterville, girls. I regret to have to report that burnt sienna is NOWHERE TO BE FOUND THIS SEASON! I lie. I found one Karen Millen frock (totally unsuitable even if the 2 stone target is met, which it won’t be.) But I’ve amused myself endlessly since its discovery imagining the moment when everyone, but EVERYONE turns up in in the lemon grove wearing it.
(This is THE actual frock, I’m afraid.)
You’ve got to love a good wedding. The razzamatazz, the romance, the boys with huge competitive camera lenses, the girls with huge competitive fascinators, the quirky little personalised mementos on the tables, not to mention the inevitable shouty drunken uncle and the occasional blood drawing punch up. They’re bizarre events in a way, but all the more memorable for that – not least my own.
Thirty five years ago (child bride) my gorgeous niece (yes – she of the Italian burnt sienna glamour) was a bridesmaid for me. I made her wear a little home-made hat with elastic under her chin. So, fair dos, she’s now getting her sweet revenge with the whole burnt sienna thing. Our bash was a homespun village affair in the days before weddings became full blown Andrew Lloyd Webber Musicals. On the musical front, however, there was a slight contretemps over the “modern” tune to “Now Thank We All Our God” which I reluctantly agreed to as a nod to my husband’s non- conformist roots. (I’ve got to tell you, it was ghastly then and it’s still ghastly now but the marriage has survived which proves that marriages can survive absolutely anything.) We got hitched in the era pre Diana. That particular Royal Wedding marked a turning point in the whole wedding industry, turning it into the fastest way to get your house repossessed. At ours, then, a nice lady in the village who grew gypsophila did the flowers; the man who owned the village garage put ribbons on his Ford Grenada and drove me to church; the reception was in the village hall and my mother did the food, made the cake, made my wedding dress, the bridesmaids’ dresses and her own dress. She also catered for a load of relatives, camping in the garden of her cottage, looked after Great Aunt Min who’d settled in for the duration (very regular meals) and poured whisky down my dear old Dad who’d been struck with emphysema (well – he’d struck himself, to be frank, the Fleet Street 60-a-day man that he was.) In spite of all this pressure, Mother sailed through the arrangements. It was all seamless until, on the morning of the Big Day, she lost the iron. “OH MY GOD! I’VE LOST THE IRON. WHERE’S THE IRON? HAVE YOU HAD THE IRON? NO OF COURSE I HAVEN’T THE IRON. WELL WHERE IS IT? I HAD IT! I HAD IT A MOMENT AGO! She found the iron. In the fridge. Moving swiftly on……
This year memories like that will be made in Italy and elsewhere too. There’s my nephew’s bash on a farm near Glastonbury which will require an altogether different kind of “outfit” (I’m thinking Bo-Ho hemp with a hint of duck egg) and a friend’s daughter is marrying in Ely Cathedral which means taking out a second mortgage on a hat the size of a small dictatorship. Now if any of you can, in the next couple of months, give me some burnt sienna steers, I’d be truly grateful. A floaty scarf? A belt? A brooch? A hair scrunchy? Honestly, I’m prepared to construct a whole outfit around the smallest “hint” of bloody burnt sienna.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to scour the internet for the perfect frocks while munching exclusively on small quantities of rocket. If I fail to lose the two stone, of course, then I’ll just have to wear the marquee and everyone can have lunch in me.