Boy, after this build up, it will be such a let down... Anyway, here goes:
The Drive To Adelaide
My Dad is on crutches because he broke his foot, and Mum has nerve damage in her calf as well as chronic back pain. Neither are very mobile, and yet, neither can sit still. I was like a parent, driving two naughty children on a long journey. They bickered, they fidgeted, we had to keep stopping, they were hungry... And yet, it was actually fun, sort of. We drove as far as Stawell on the first night, then on to Adelaide the next morning. The Western Highway is like the Hume used to be... single lanes, and going through towns where one gets to eat locally made pies.
Fantastic. The bathroom floor was heated! I recommend Grand Mercure at Mount Lofty. The food wasn't bad either, and they had lots of hot looking staff. And the view from the rooms was awesome. When we got there, there were five cop cars and lots of serious looking cops wearing gloves. We thought there had been a murder (and I thought, "That's be right... Adelaide." But no, it was just a workman who had a heart attack and fell off some work platform and died. The staff were all coy about it, but I flirted with the receptionist and got the true story.
The Night Before Dinner
This involved me, Mum and Dad, my sister (mother of the bride, who I'll call Bindy), her new boyfriend SuperJohn (he cooks! he renovates! he can talk on a wide range of topics! he's wealthy! we love him!), my old Aunt and Uncle, and my sister's old workfriend Dutchy, who is about 50, and is a divorcee. We discussed plans to deal with my feral nephew the next day, but also, I noticed that Dutchy rubbed my Mum up the wrong way on various matters.
Much to my Mum's horror, there was a hairdressing appointment made for all the women in the bridaal party as well as family, first thing in the morning, in central Adelaide. Champagne included. Mum has short straight hair, and doesn't drink. She wanted to sleep... so, she was a little cranky. I was designated driver. Anyway, in the car, my sister Bindy was playfully teasing me because I was Mum's 'pet', and I was saying that the youngest son, particularly if he is the only son, will always be the pet, and it was all good-natured fun, but then Mum pointed out that Bindy was Dad's pet and he loved her from the second she was born, and we laughed. But then, out of nowhere, Dutchy said to Mum, with a degree of venom, "Gee you talk a lot of shit Mrs. Perseus." There was silence. What do you do in that situation? She's my sister's best friend, so she should say something, but I'm the son, so I should say something, and Mum is small, old (70), tired and frail. But, as I pointed out, Mum was cranky, and in the past year I've noticed that she's just saying whatever the hell she wants about anything. And she's starting to swear. So, Mum turns to Dutchy and says, "You think I'm full of shit? When I met you, all you fucking talked about was fucking Jilly this and fucking Jilly that. Fucking Jilly, that's all that came out of your fucking mouth, so fucking shut up about me talking about how much I love my children." It was awesome, and Jilly couldn't back-pedal fast enough.
So while the girls had their girly hair session, I went on a brief exploration of Adelaide. I went down the cafe end of Hindley Street and sampled some okay coffee at a few places (Felici the best, plus it had Melbourne newspapers), peered in the independant record stores, found the old synagogue, then went to the Art Gallery. Saw a few good pieces - an Arthur Boyd one called 'Figures By A Creek' or something was very good, but just when I got to the really cool stuff (European 17th-18th century) I got the call to pick them all up.
What Tie To Wear
I took four options, and I'm sure you were all waiting desperately to find out which I was going to choose, and the answer was 'the green one'. I also parted my hair on the side for the first time since 1977. It's apparently 'the look' now. The hands belong to my old Aunt, who was the only other person of the whole sixty guests at the wedding who smoked. As such, I spent most of my time hanging out with her.
(Of my Dad's 178 photos, this is the only one of me. I wish I could have posted a better one, just in case some hot chick is reading this...)
My Nephew The Butcher Part 1.
As much as we want to be at my niece's wedding, all of our family were in a way dreading being there because of the fact the bride's brother, my nephew the Butcher, was going to be there with his wife and child. He hates us. All of us, except his two sisters who he tolerates. He hates his mother. He hates his grand-parents (my parents). He hates me, because when I attempted to broker peace, I said in an email that he needed to 'fucken get over it' and he has since threatened to bash me. Mind you, of all the nephews and nieces, he was the pet. It kills us. Anyway, he turned up with his father (my sister's ex husband), his uncles from that side of the family, and his wife and child. And I was the fucking usher, who had to show him to his front row seat. I did the right thing. I approached. I said "Hi Butcher," and he said, "Hi Uncle Pers," and I thought, "Well, so far so good," so I put my hand out to shake, and he refused. Oh well, I tried. I said, "You're in the front row on the right," and that was the last I spoke to him for the day.
The Bride was fifteen minutes late. I said to the singer (an old school friend of my niece), "So, you know when to start singing?" and she panicked and said, "No! No I don't. Help! HELP!" So, it was my job to go find the bride, who, when seeing me down the corridor asking when she was coming out, replied, "The singer KNOWS when to start," and I said, "No, she doesn't. I'm staying here." So I ended up being quite handy, holding doors open for the bridal party, and giving the singer the 30 second standby cue. Then again, maybe it would have been better if I didn't, because she sang "Take My Breath Away" to a midi-backing track... not in the right key. I have concealed the singer's face with some expertly applied MS Paint.
Here Comes The Bride
I picked this photo because it's blurry and dark.
Pre-Dinner Drinks / Butcher Part 2
The ceremony was at 3pm. The official pre-dinner drinks (ie: when the bar tab starts) was 5.30pm, so there was two hours to spare, and we all convened in the hotel bar. It's the worst thing about weddings. Why do people getting married torture their guests so? Can't they just get married at 6pm so we can go straight to the fucking dinner? Anyway, there was us at one end, the Butcher and his gang at the other end, and all the Jews in the middle. I caused a stir with old Aunt Esther (who must've been 90), because the waitress was handing out these cone-shaped things and I bit into it and it was a prawn. I saw old Aunt Esther about to take one and I thought, "Oh no, the matriarch who has come all the way from Israel for this wedding must surely be kosher," and so I ran to her, grabbed her hand, and said, "Watch out Auntie Esther, it's prawns!" and she said, "I know! Yum!" and ate it in one mouthful.
Then, it all turned bad. My sister's ex husband approached. He was there with his new wife. But, we hold no specific grudges. He said to my sister, "Listen, I think you should go to your son and at least say hello. Make an effort." Now, she was taken aback, as she 'made efforts' for about three years and eventually had to give up, but, she figured, well, maybe he's said something to his father, and maybe he would like me to approach. So, my sister walked over to the other side of the room, went up to her son and said, "Hi mate," and he yelled at the top his voice, "Fuck off! FUCK OFF!" We left the pre-dinner drinks and consoled my sister for an hour.
The Reception / Butcher Part 3
Tne Butcher's father and paternal uncles and one aunt were all horrified by what he had done, and although they are the estranged part of our family, they all came up and apologised to my sister, and even me and my parents. But, my sister was largely inconsolable, which was sad, given it was her daughter's wedding. Not only that, she hated her dress, and was only wearing it because my niece picked it out and insisted she wore it. My sister thought it was too revealing, and too blue, but what do you do when your daughter is getting married and wants you to wear something(here is my sister and my niece, later in the night)
But two things brought her back to life. First of all, she made a beautiful speech that received a standing ovation, such was its power (though, The Butcher walked out as it started). Second of all, she was angry at herself for doing what her ex-husband wanted (that is, telling her to approach their son). And so, although she's one of those 'always-positive, say nice things' type of people, she cornered her ex-husband as he came out of the toilet and said to him, "I've wanted to say this for three years: I hope you have a rotten life and I hate you." Then she felt better. But, I tell you, if it wasn't a family wedding, my Mum, who was still cranky, would have stabbed The Butcher's eyes out with a fork.
At one stage, my Mum said, "Oh, I'm so tired. What time is it love?" I said, "A quarter to eight Mum." Then, she asked again a bit later. "Twenty past eight Mum," I said. "Fuck," she said. It was indeed a very long day.
The DJ played
Nutbush City Limits
Because there is a law in Australia stating that these songs must be played at all weddings.
My highlight was the best man's speech. Fucking awesome. He was a friend of the groom from flight school, and, well, he was a little drunk, and not the best reader, nor the best speechwriter. You know, like the kids in class that when it's their time to read out loud you groan because they read slowly and terribly. I think someone must have told him that the best man had to 'roast' the groom, because his speech was like this, in complete monotone, "I wondered why... he wanted me... to be best man... event... I mean, even... even though... though he has only known. Me for two years. I guess it is because he is fat. And stupid..." (insert pause, all silent in room, except for the sound of me suppressing laughter). "He is late. To everything. Never fly. With him... he sometimes forgets to put. The landing wheels. Down. Because he is stupid..." (insert pause - silent in room again, except I am about to burst). "I was told. The best man's speech must be the same length. As the groom's proo... pree... prowess. Umm. In bed. So I will be brief." (insert pause).
It went like that for fifteen minutes, and I loved every second of it.
The Drive Home
Did it in one day, with parents, then I drove back to Lorne, saw my mate's lights on, thought I'd go for a drink, others were there, got drunk, and ended up going on a date with a girl I met there. But that's for another blog post.
In conclusion, my niece, hopefully, enjoyed her wedding. She is lovely. I wish her and her husband well. The fact we struggled to enjoy the wedding day was not her fault. Families, ay. It's a fucking battle keeping them together some times. Grudges can run for generations... People generally are respectful at funerals, but it's weddings where it all comes out. Someone needs to perfect the system.