Chapter Twenty


I was uncertain what to do and who to invite to my stag night. At one stage I decided I wouldn’t have one because whatever I thought of seemed totally unsuitable for one or other of the people I intended to invite.  I thought I ought to invite both my father and David Cannon but my father didn’t drink alcohol and David drank like a fish. Craig suggested a topless bar, Jock a local music pub, Gordon a pub crawl round Nantwich, Sophie an Indian restaurant.  None of these felt right.   In the end I decided to do what I wanted, as it was my wedding after all, and so I  invited everyone to one of my favourite pubs where they had a pool table and served great beers. Sophie said she couldn’t imagine David and John together and I was concerned that Gordon and Craig would clash. Twelve of those I invited turned up.  Craig got up my nose straight away by ordering a bottle of vintage champagne to show off; David went straight onto large whiskies; John had ginger beer.  The rest of us did our best to work our way through their selection of beers.  We were able to monopolise the pool table and I organised the motley collection into six teams of two in a knockout competition.   John I teamed up with Gordon and somehow they managed to win the competition before Gordon became too drunk.  I was amazed that John was such a skilful pool player.  Somehow that wasn’t what I expected of my vegan, t-total father.  I suppose he must have been very different in his youth.  I teamed up with David who was ultra competitive and didn’t take well to being overshadowed by John.  We came third after Craig and Delwyn.  Everyone seemed to get on fine as a group in spite of our differences. In my experience men can usually get on fine if there’s some sport involved, and no women present.

I was hung over the next day and pleased I didn’t have to go to work.

When it came to planning the wedding itself I went along with what Sophie wanted – a white church wedding and a sit down reception – and Betty, her mother, generously offered to pay for it all as a wedding present.  David found a place near Stone, Staffordshire where we could get married and have the reception, called Lakeside.  It had been a grand country house but the wedding was to be in a large annex that specialised in such functions.  Sophie and I went there to check it out and approve it.

Sophie organised the top table seating plan, which wasn’t easy because she had to accommodate her birth mum, Betty, and her step mum, Tracey.  I was to be between Sophie and Betty and David was to be the other side of her.   She placed Wendy between David and Craig and John between herself and Tracey.  I thought Wendy would cope OK although she might be a bit bored.  Sophie was more concerned, especially as she thought both men would almost certainly get drunk.  I didn’t know what the two ladies would make of John.  I did contemplate telling him not to talk about energy self-sufficiently, electric cars, why they should convert to veganism but thought better boo it.  After his performance at my stag night I thought I ought to give him more credit for his social skills.

I’d asked Gordon to be my best man and hoped Delwyn wouldn’t be upset.  I made Gordon promise not to start drinking until after the meal.  I didn’t want him drunk coming out with inappropriate jokes or stories.  I also told him not to pester Chakka, who anyway, would be with her fiancé.

Her Dad generously bought me a Transit van as my wedding present and he bought Sophie a king size bed, a huge TV, a three-piece suite and loads of soft furnishings.  Tracey treated us to our honeymoon.  My parents said their main present was the guarantee of the bank loan and gave us a set of stainless saucepans.  We also had a cutlery set, a crockery set, glasses and some lovely (and some strange) ornaments.  Only at the time we didn’t have anywhere to live.  The bungalow that came with the nursery business where I’d been domiciled for the past few months was being renovated by a builder who mainly worked for Cannon Pet Supplies to make it suitable for our marital home and wouldn’t be available until after we returned from our honeymoon.  So the presents were to be stored in one of David’s garages.

I did feel overwhelmed by all the gifts.  People were so generous.  I also felt a bit upset that a lot of what was happening was nothing to do with me.  I think Sophie had had more say than me but we both felt David had over organised it for us.  It seems ungrateful to even mention this – I’d been given a van, for heaven’s sake, for my new business – but it’s not nice being steamrollered.    I told myself that it wasn’t going to affect me, to sucker me into the world of consumerism.