Sparks Fly

I’ll just go back briefly to January – there was a big art exhibition in London called Fanfare Into Europe, to commemorate Britain’s entry into the Common Market, as it was then called. The Sage and his friend Arthur, both very interested in pictures, decided to go and the Sage asked me if I’d like to come along – no ulterior motive, he was just being friendly. As I’ve said, he had been a good family friend for three years.

We got on really well and enjoyed the day, and next thing was, the Sage asked my mother if he could invite me out – he was being scrupulous here, not Victorian, as I was so much younger than him and he wouldn’t want to behave inappropriately. I have to say, he was a wonderful change from the boys I had dated before. I say “boys’ advisedly – although older than I, usually by about three years, he was the first man. And I was charmed to realise I was being courted. It wasn’t long before we were besotted with each other – but there was a clear background of knowing and liking each other as ‘just friends’, so agreeing to marry him three weeks later wasn’t quite as imprudent as it might seem. I wasn’t bothered by the age gap – my father had been 13 years older than my mother and I was a bit impatient of convention – and yet, not in the way that was fashionable then. I’d not have been tempted to go off and “find myself” on the hippy trail, for example – I thought that was nothing but taking part in the then fashionable stereotype and that it was more interesting to know who you were, or at least not bore the pants off everyone with the discovery.

I was an odd girl. And a bit intolerant, but honestly, the earnestness of it all, as each of them expounded on philosophy and self-knowledge and the rejection of their parents’ middle-class values, while accepting all the benefits of the middle-class lifestyle. I was already far too realistic for flower power.

Anyway, in mid-May, the wedding invitations had not yet gone out, and we rapidly decided to retain the reception, but to call it a Wedding Party (or something like that) instead, and changed the wording to invite people to a celebration of the marriage of… After all, the honeymoon was already booked and I’d made the cake.

My mother and I had already been to London in search of clothes and found nothing I liked. So we went off to Great Yarmouth and I shopped for all I wanted in a few hours. My wedding dress was short, yellow and white (big splodgy white flowers on a yellow background, I believe) with a big white collar and a deep V neck. I had an oatmeal-coloured coat. The dress cost £5 and the coat was quite cheap too.

And so we got married in Lowestoft Registry office, which is not the prettiest of places. The weather was overcast. My mother-in-law gave me a gold brooch in the shape of a dragonfly to wear on the coat. The Sage gave me a gold watch (which I still have, obviously) for a wedding present, and I gave him a portrait of myself – yes, honestly! – which I had painted by an artist and restorer who lived in Chedgrave,near Loddon. I wore my favourite evening dress, which was black velvet with a white collar – when added to my pensive expression, it looks like a portrait of a child in mourning! If you’ve been in my dining room (Blue Witch has, but I’m not sure that Dave has entered the room yet) it’s hanging on the wall there.

We were married on a Thursday – as the Sage was a partner in his firm, he didn’t need to ask for time off and it was not inconvenient for him to take a long weekend. Our honeymoon was booked for August, so we decided to have a few days in Yorkshire. Pa and Ma took my mother out for lunch, and we set off.

Roses wants the story in one go, but it can’t be done. I have delighted you for long enough already. Anyway, I’ve got to remember what happened next.

23 comments on “Sparks Fly

  1. Four Dinners

    ‘Anyway, I’ve got to remember what happened next’

    er…it was your honeymoon and you can’t remember what happened next??…;-)

    Brilliant story babe. Far more romantic in it’s way than you may realise…or perhaps you do eh?…;-)

    I look forward to buying you and The Sage a beer or three the next time you venture into town!!!

  2. Z

    4D, the story does not go behind the bedroom door. As if.

    Romantic? Ah yes, only tonight, he brought me my dinner and asked if the steak was cooked right. I cut it and a satisfying pinkness showed. “It’s perfect”, I said. “I’ll fetch the mustard,” he said. “You’re perfect,” I said,

    He doesn’t like pink steak or mustard. Romantic? Mm, I’ll say. I don’t need flowers for our 37th engagement anniversary (as we only realised a couple of days ago).

    Sorry, Roses.

  3. Blue Witch

    Happy Engagement Anniversary!

    Your memory is far too good. I always wonder, though, whether people actually do remember things as clearly as they tell them, or whether they’re writing around a few remembered facts. If the latter, then I’m happy, if the former, then please tell me the secret…

    I do, however, remember the portrait 🙂

  4. Z

    I think I’ve got a terrible memory – but what I do remember, I know very clearly. I think that, whether I know it or not at the time, I focus on a few facts – these might be incidental and quirky but they make it look as if I know the lot.

    For example, everyone knows “shall I compare thee to a summer’s day”, but if you say “thy eternal summer shall not fade”, that looks as if you know the whole sonnet, even if you don’t. Similarly, when the Sage meets someone who reminds him that they met years ago, he’ll remember where they lived (even the house number) and the lovely rosewood table he valued for them, and they are so impressed they don’t realise he didn’t know their name or face!

    I wish I still had all that gorgeous hair. I loved my hair…

    Yorkshire tomorrow, AQ!

  5. allotmentqueen

    How long before you post the wedding photo? My sister (next one down, two years younger than me) got married in 1972 (3 months pregnant, tried the gin and hot baths treatment, still only 17, but that’s what you did in those days) and I came home from uni and made her wedding dress. Be interesting to see how yours compares!

  6. Z

    Er, there is a photo, but I’m not sure where to find it. It’d probably be easier to go up to the attic and find the dress – though I haven’t looked at it for over 20 years and it’s probably been eaten by mice.

    There is a picture of a family line-up at the party though, only because my sister-in-law gave it to us in a silver frame for our 25th. I look absurdly child-like.

  7. Marion

    It surprises me that you hadn’t planned to go on to college after high school. I would have thought you a prime candidate to continue your formal education.

  8. Z

    It does seem surprising, I agree. Everything would have been different if my father hadn’t died.

    There’s not a lot of natural light there and I’m not sure if a picture will come out well. I could try.

  9. Dave

    I have not only been in the dining room (we had a couple of meals there earlier last year, before it became warm enough to eat outside) but I have seen the picture.

    Indeed, glancing at it I assumed it was an ancestor of the Sage’s, and asked him who it was. He told me. Of course, instantly I could see the likeness.

  10. Z

    Oh Christopher, I don’t often lol at a comment, but I just did. That is the unnerving girl who told the tall tale to the nervous young man, isn’t it? And when the chap came home singing “Hey Bertie, how do you bound”, and he thought it was a ghost, he bolted?

    Of course, I may have the wrong story. Saki is in the bookcase just behind me, I’ll look it up.

  11. Z

    “I said, Bertie, why do you bound?” The right story, anyway.

    For those of you who don’t know your Saki, the story ends “Romance at short notice was her speciality.”


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