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.