Two weddings within two weeks, a handful of birthdays, my flat going on the market, my first professional twenty twenty cricket match, Lenny Henry at the Swan Theatre, one or two changes at work – there have been very few dull moments lately!
This post, should you choose to read it, is written by a slightly sleepy man sitting on concourse F at Philadelphia airport. For the past 18 hours I have been traveling to the American Council of the Blind’s annual convention being held in Louisville Kentucky this year. So I’ve found a moment to blog, so better crack on.
Quay Mill, a renovated water mill constructed somewhere near Cambridge in the 18th century, was where my friends Kimberley and Luke tied the knot in mid June. Congratulations to you both! Very many thanks for inviting Emma and I to celebrate a truly wonderful day in such a superb setting with such a legendary bunch of people.
The short ceremony , in which Luke’s grandmother reminded us that marriage was about the big things and the little things, was closely followed by a photography fest plus Champaign reception on the hotel lawn. The wedding breakfast featured beef plus a considerable quantity of red wine who’s identity escapes me. For the meal I was seated with some of Luke’s friends, who now maybe former friends? I miss heard Connor’s name and addressed Connor as Cameron for the duration! Doh. I met a man partially responsible for the play.com web site and proceeded to give him a grilling about accessibility not equating to usability yadda yadda yadda. A student of architecture got an ear full on the relative merits of medieval Cathedral design. Oh yes I’m just the bloke you want on your table at a wedding! Luckily: the bride, the groom, the mother of the bride, the father of the groom and the best men all came to my rescue by entertaining and moving everyone with witty and erudite speeches of there own. The cake was cut and the dancing commenced.
Emma and I had traveled across by train from Worcester to Cambridge early on the Friday. Having taken a quick look at the venue online it was clear to us both that Quay Mill was somewhere to be savored. This country hotel successfully blends original architectural features, rustic furnishings, fantastic food, a wondrous whisky bar featuring no fewer than 40 single malts … Heh I’m not on commission. Needless to say Emma and I enjoyed every moment making full use of all the facilities including several trips to the full size swimming pool, Jacuzzi and sauna.
In all sincerity, Kimberley and Luke’s family and friends were: warm, welcoming, friendly, funny … And bent over backwards … Steady … We felt part of the family. Thanks everyone.
Two weeks later it was my sister’s big day in more ways than one. Not only was it Catherine’s wedding day but she chose to marry on her 30th birthday! Below is something approximating to my Brother of the Bride speech delivered on the day.
“Good afternoon everyone,
You have all helped to make my sister’s wedding a magnificent occasion. I could spend the rest of the weekend thanking everyone. However, I am under strict instructions not to. But I will say it to you when I see you. Thank you!
Catherine has kindly invited me to say just a “few” words. A task which some of my harsher critics may liken to throwing a red rag to a bull. Aren’t bulls color blind? When I was trying to put this together, I found that there were so many words from which to choose and so little time in which to choose them.
There’s the one about baby Catherine. Apparently she used to scream quite a lot keeping her two-year-old brother awake at night. An outrageous family legend has it that her 2-year-old brother used to smack baby Catherine’s bottom to try and stop her crying. Just as well Catherine does not scream quite as much these days! You’re never too old.. mate…
There’s the one about When Catherine was 5 and fell off her bike. Nothing remarkable in a little girl grazing her knees. Not Catherine though, no she was admitted to hospital after the side of her face caught the handle bars which pierced her cheek! Ouch. I think Catherine became slightly more cautious after that. Although it didn’t stop her bragging to me about the incident. Secretly I remember being slightly envious and seriously impressed that my little sister could be so brave and make light of so much physical discomfort.
there’s all sorts of stories about when we played together as kids. When Catherine and I were children we had a car mat. The image on the mat depicted a small town including: roads, a school, a police station, fire station and houses. For hours on end we would push matchbox cars around on the mat, debate the finer points of interior decor, and pretend that we both had jobs, and our own homes a couple of miles apart. We loved that car mat.
Anything missing from the car mat, such as the odd stage for a rock and pop festival, would undergo an elaborate design before Lego construction commenced. Even then we couldn’t really see the colors of the Lego bricks too well, so our constructions would rise from the carpet, indiscriminately using every brick of Lego we could lay our hands on, towering a good 7 or even 8 inches in all their garish multi-color glory!
As is sometimes the case with siblings, collaborating on major construction projects does not always pass without instant. Occasionally their would be miner disputes. Following demolition during the salvage operation, conflicts could potentially arise regarding the respective ownership of the various building materials.
One day some well-meaning soul decided to divide our Lego based on the color of the bricks. Catherine would be allocated all the blue bricks, (about a third) and I was allocated all the red (hmm about two thirds). Doh, yeh that went well. Think I probably owe you a couple of 2 by 4s mate.
In our teens, Catherine and I gained a not completely unfounded reputation for throwing the occasional outrageous party. We were once reprimanded by the local constabulary for having people on our roof and threaten with eviction by our landlord for, and I quote “beer stains on the sealing”.
there was the one when Will first came to stay over with Catherine and I in Lancashire. I’m not really sure Will knew what he was getting into, think he got a bit of a shock … no really. Will attempted to change a bulb in one of our dodgy light fittings and almost electrocuted himself! Not quite the impression either of them were hoping to make.
Will’s commitment to blind county cricket and now an international Blind football career not withstanding, Will has stood by my sister through thick and thin over the past 11 years.
During that time Catherine’s academic achievements have included her BA with Honors in English from the University of Central Lancashire. I even got my hair cut for that one!
Catherine has remained fiercely independent, qualifying with her first guide dog Kresta and recently with her second dog Oak.
Catherine’s Professional career started in fund-raising with the National Library for the Blind before moving into a student support role with the University of Worcester.
Following a project to raise awareness of disability in Portugal, together Catherine and Will were recipients of the National Millennium Volunteer Awards.
Catherine and Will have taken them selves off to numerous gigs including the Glastonbury festival, holidayed on the Isles of Silly, and last year enjoyed a city break in Paris.
Has anyone got any idea where they’re going for their honeymoon? I think it’s probably a closely guarded secret, although my money was on Oswaldtwistle.
Now here’s the cheesy part mate!
As well as being my sister, for 30 years Catherine has been one of my best friends. Catherine has always been a phone call away, she has literally bandaged me up when I’ve been bleeding and hugged me when I have been heart broken.
Alcohol makes Catherine giddy, flamboyant and mischievous. But most of the time my sister has tremendous poise. Catherine is: caring, considered, courteous, cautious and compassionate.
Will has not tried to change Catherine to make him happy. Will has expanded Catherine’s horizons, introducing her to new music, cinema and ideas. The less said about Dawson’s Creek and Friends the better.
In conclusion, I am extremely proud and honored to have Catherine as my sister, and now Will as my brother in law. I have nothing but admiration and respect for their individual and joint achievements, not least of which is their first 11 years together.
Catherine and Will are just as indecisive as each other. As their family and friends we will always be frustrated by the length of time it takes them to make even the tiniest of decisions. However, we can be confident that any decisions they do make, especially the big ones, are absolutely the right ones.
To Catherine and Will!”
So there you have it. I’m all wedded and blogged out for now. Two really tremendous days and two really tremendous couples who I am sure will continue to have many happy years together. Righty I’ve got a flight to catch.