United Kingdom

Weddings can be bliss without guests

Coronavirus has dumped a great big bucket of cold water on Britain’s Bridezillas.

No huge party, no being walked down the aisle by dad (does anyone understand why?) and it sounds like the traditional family photos are going to end up looking horribly like those warning of the dangers of multi-generational virus transmissions.

So I understand why many couples are wondering whether to go ahead. 

But as one who married in virtual secret, I can tell you that none of the above really matters.

I never had a big, fat white wedding as a dream. 

When I imagined getting married, which I rarely did, I always thought of a register office for the ceremony and something more along the lines of a stunning white day dress rather than a gown.

When I imagined getting married, which I rarely did, I always thought of a register office for the ceremony and something more along the lines of a stunning white day dress rather than a gown. Pictured: Stock photo of a traditional bride and groom

But I did want to marry. I thought marriage would make me more secure. 

That making that commitment would be like finally answering a question rather than having that question for ever hovering over me.

However, one way or another marriage eluded me until quite late. 

I had been with the man who is the father of my son for years but in 1994, when I was 36, we finally split up after a lot of going backwards and forwards. 

We were both miserable, though, and after a few weeks he came to visit and, to my utter amazement, produced an engagement ring.

And more than that, he had booked a time at the register office three days later. It was make-my-mind-up time.

When I tell people this story, they say it couldn’t possibly be true because we would have needed more time for the banns to be read but all I can say is I know my memory is correct. And, dear reader, I went for it.

Given the short deadline we thought it easiest to keep it quiet and not have a lot of fuss, so we married with just my sister and brother-in-law as witnesses.

My wedding dress, a white Ghost number accompanied by a heavily embroidered white Dries Van Noten shawl, was bought the day before (pictures of the day reveal that this was not one of my finest looks) and we alerted my parents to the news afterwards from a call box in the restaurant where we had a celebration lunch. 

‘Are you crazy?’ was my father’s vigorous response.

But I can bear testament that this very private ceremony, free from months of stressing over seating plans and flower arrangements, was moving and real, intense and joyful.

Without any of the conventional trappings, it was still one of the happiest days of my life.

I need a beach, not a picnic in the rain

Organising holidays is never entirely straightforward. But nothing competes with the confusion and turmoil around this year’s plans.

A-ha! Of course, that’s it. The clue is in the word ‘plans’. Plans are yesterday’s baby. They feature little in the current world.

There are, of course, many who think it’s insanity to even attempt to leave the UK.

Why not take a rain check – an apt phrase – and fix a staycation instead?

But while our countryside does indeed have beautiful landscapes and some breathtaking beaches, for me that’s not the point. 

The point is to be somewhere you don’t have to check the weather app before planning a picnic, where the scents and sights are unfamiliar, where the very journey makes you feel that you’re going on holiday rather than taking a short break from home. Pictured: Beach on Lake Chalain (Lac Chalain) in the Jura region of France

The point is to be somewhere you don’t have to check the weather app before planning a picnic, where the scents and sights are unfamiliar, where the very journey makes you feel that you’re going on holiday rather than taking a short break from home.

Will that happen? The jury is still out. 

So many planes and trains are being cancelled that it’s beginning to look like common sense rather than extravagant lunacy to double-book if you want to be sure of getting to your destination.

We’re now hoping to escape to France in a few weeks but what happens if our part of North London, already marked a potential hotspot, goes back into lockdown?

Will we be allowed out? And will border control at Marseilles be au courant with the infection rate in NW6?

Nobody wants to be middle class now

A concerned parent has posted on our Nextdoor website her fears that the local church school she is contemplating for her child is ‘too middle-class’.

Not so long ago, parents were flooding the Sunday service of the nearby church in hope against hope that their child could gain entry to one of the few excellent state schools in this socially diverse area.

As a result, the status of the school grew in prestige. How times have changed.   

Lockdown’s over – so set my Manolos free!

AS A high-heel aficionado, I’m thinking of setting up a support group to help in their reinstatement now that we’ve spent so long in Birkenstocks and trainers.

Luckily, fashion has a way bringing the unfashionable back into the fold, so I guess by next year my precious Manolo heels, which have spent lockdown in a cupboard, will be set free again.

2020, the year that everything changed

My current pet hate is people who say that really, their lives are no different under lockdown. 

They were never particularly keen on seeing other people and they’ve just carried on their work as usual. Nothing of any great significance has changed.

What planet are they on? It’s certainly not the same as mine.

The entire background to all our day- to-day lives is utterly transformed. Pictured: Customers wearing protective clothing and face masks enjoying a drink at the Wellington Pub

OK, I’ve been lucky enough to stay healthy and be employed but that doesn’t mean that my life is the same.

Before, I wasn’t living in a world where a terrifying number of people are losing their jobs, and many have lost family and friends. 

The entire background to all our day- to-day lives is utterly transformed.

This morning at my desk feels much like many mornings do. But tomorrow is frighteningly unknown for all of us. 

Well done, Bernie, you’ll be an Ace dad

Welcome Ace Ecclestone, son of 89-year-old ex-Formula 1 boss Bernie and his much younger wife Fabiana.

No elderly dad of my acquaintance – and I know a few – initially had another baby high on their must-do list, but they’ve all been among the most besotted fathers I know. 

And often far better than they were first time round.

Perhaps a more urgent acquaintance with your own mortality makes you more alive to the thrill of a new birth.

But also as we see in relationships between grandparents and their grandchildren, the distance in years often leads to more generosity of understanding

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