The only fly in the ointment was the prospect of this big wedding. It was so boring, having to plan guest lists, choose the invitation cards (engraved, obviously, darlings), think about a dress when I really wasn’t bothered about any of it. I wanted to be married, not to get married.
On a practical level, there wasn’t too much else to fuss about. The Sprout already had a house and my mother and I busied ourselves buying new towels and saucepans and the like. He and I chose a bed and a washing machine. We had enough money for what we needed – perfectly happy with passed-on part dinner services from family and that sort of thing, although my in-laws bought us a ‘best’ dinner service as a wedding present. My mother bought, from the Sprout (who was an auctioneer) a Victorian silver set of cutlery, which fortuitously came up for sale at the right time.
My heart was still not in this wedding nonsense. I wasn’t fussed about a church wedding, even a small private one would be too much for me. I really was very shy, but it’s not just that. I just hate a ceremony that revolves around me. I still do. I was looking forward to the party, just so long as it wasn’t called a wedding reception.
My mother was completely sympathetic. She said that, if we wanted to elope, she’d hold the ladder.
By the time three months had passed, the Sprout could see what we had meant. Every day there seemed to be more decisions to make. And now that he’d got his gorgeous new fiancée, he didn’t want to wait. Finally, he suggested we call off the wedding – and surprise everyone by turning up married. His parents were going on holiday to Scotland – wouldn’t it be fun to get married the day after they left and turn up at their hotel as a surprise.
No, I said, it wouldn’t. I was not going to start married life by upsetting my mother-in-law like that. We’d get married the day before they left and invite them.
And that’s just what we did. The Sprout got a licence – I had to show my birth certificate to prove I was over 18. I don’t know what his parents thought about the whole thing, but they turned up, smiling cheerfully. My mother came too of course, and they took her out to lunch afterwards. I apologised to my sister for not inviting her, but then I’d have had to ask the Sprout’s sister and family, and they would have made a fuss with confetti and photos and such nonsense, and I wasn’t having that.
I’d been to London, looking for clothes, but I couldn’t find a thing I liked. Then my mother and I went over to Great Yarmouth in search of something to wear. I bought a yellow and white mini-dress, with a big white collar, and a light coat – I wonder what colour écru is? It was not cream or beige or white, maybe it was écru. Both were very useful and I wore them for years. I suppose they are still in the attic somewhere, but probably rather eaten by mice. The dress, by the way, cost £5, which was cheap even for 1973.
After the wedding, the Sage* and I left for a weekend honeymoon in Yorkshire.
*You see, he earned his new title the moment he married me…