The next day, Mummy (indeed, childish perhaps but it’s what I called her) and I were invited over to Pa and Ma’s house – right here, where we live now, in fact. We had visited before, we were asked over every so often for tea or a meal, but things were rather different now. I began to realise quite quickly that I was marrying into a whole family. The Sprout had a brother and a sister; she was married with two children, and there were numerous cousins who lived locally. In our family, there was my mother, my sister and me.
We soon started to consider all the necessary details for a wedding – booking the church, wording the invitation, thinking about the guest list and where the reception was to be held. We wanted it to be at the Yacht Club, which had been the main venue of our social life for so many years (apart from friends’ houses and our own, of course). They hadn’t done a wedding reception before, but the managers, a married couple whose names I can’t remember right now, were very excited and pleased about the booking.
I was only 19 (sorry, that’s a song, isn’t it? Um, hang on … that’s right, it’s the Old 97’s – the apostrophe is in the name, it’s not my idea). “Nineteen is not the age of reason.” True, but I didn’t have any doubts about getting married, although I was quite alarmed by the planning. I left as much as possible to my mother and Ma. I elected to make my own wedding cake and my sister arranged to get it iced at a bakery in Loddon, near where she worked. As far as I was concerned, however, I just wanted to marry the Sprout and I didn’t see that it was anyone else’s business. I was extremely shy and hated the thought of being watched as I walked down the aisle. However, we went along with it all, and the Sprout and I spent as much time as possible with each other. He lived in a large, three-storeyed terraced house in South Lowestoft, not far from the seafront. It had been in a poor state of repair when he bought it and he’d knocked through the two main rooms on the ground floor and put an arch between them, and filled the walls with his painting collection – mostly 19th century landscapes and and Dutch seascapes. It was always very tidy, which made me think I’d have to buck up my casual ideas when I moved in.
After three months, the planning started to get to the Sage too. He came to me and said I’d been right to want a quiet wedding and did I still want that? I certainly did – and as for my mother, she’d said from the start that, if we wanted to elope, she’d hold the ladder. But what about his parents? They were rather more conventional, and they were the ones looking forward to all this. The Sage brightly suggested that we get married the next Friday, on the 25th May. They were going on holiday to Scotland that day, and we could follow them up and give them a splendid surprise.
I wasn’t convinced. A really bad shock, it seemed to me, and I didn’t want to start a relationship with my in-laws in that way. So, I said that he’d have to tell them, and we’d make the wedding on the 24th instead. That meant we could invite them (as I said yesterday, they’d not attended or known about their other son’s wedding, couldn’t do that to them twice). However, I drew the line at inviting anyone else but Mummy. I knew that the Sprout’s sister would insist on doing the whole confetti and tin can routine which I so hadn’t wanted in the first place. I told Wink about it, but explained why she couldn’t be there. She took it very well, considering.
The Sage went off to get a special licence and to tell his parents. My mother and I went to buy a wedding dress.