Yesterday to the wedding of a friend and former work protégé who, far from seizing the opportunity to absorb my sober tutelage and carve out a sensible career in local government, had wound up teaching me so much (how to do considerably better in the private sector; how to get thrown out of a pub for staging a puppet show with your socks; the health and safety implications of teenage mutant ninja turtles in Danish discos; how crawling on all fours doesn't necessarily render you invisible in the dark.)
It was a generous and meticulously organised wedding, clearly planned by a tasteful romantic. I don't want to make a snap judgement here, but I'd say this may have been the influence of the charming and beautiful bride, rather than of friend-and-former-protégé.
The ceremony was in a relaxed secular format - no hymn singing (probably nobody knows the tunes anymore anyway), but tranquil music choices (Canon in D, Glasgow Love Theme), followed by various moving and thought-provoking readings ("I knew that I had been touched by love when I started thinking in terms of 'we'," provoked the thought that I shouldn't have snatched that last coffee before we left).
The Great Hall at Loseley House, with its panelling, stained-glass roundels and scent of wood smoke, was a timeless setting for the ceremony (it was already 130 years old when the Pachelbel processional was written). The reception and breakfast were held in a lofty timbered barn, the tables invitingly decorated in white and purple with a gift-boxed spirit shot at each place-setting (mine was a very thoughtfully-chosen miniature of Jura malt).
We were at a good table. On one side was Gareth Malone, the choirmaster in the BBC 2 documentary series about reviving school choirs. He swore he wasn't, and his name card said something different, although he admitted that we were not the first to remark on the likeness. Anyway, he was good company and probably sings beautifully. On our other side, best surprise of the day, was the girl with lovely eyes, whom I haven't seen for ages and much miss. With her was her partner, whom we hadn't met. Clearly a man of taste, he seemed very likeable, with a restrained dry humour that hinted at dineability.
I am easily provoked into a diatribe about wedding excess; the absurd amounts that people are expected to spend on weddings now, when a do in our day meant coronation chicken vol-au-vents and asparagus tips rolled in brown bread, washed down with a few glasses of Asti Spumanti; when you could count your friends by your cheese-boards, tin-trays and toast racks; and when at t' end, when all was said and done, there was still change out of' tenner for t' meter.
But it's awful nice being on the receiving end of a really good one, and I'm only sorry we had to leave before the band arrived and the evening celebrations began.