Monday, 15 June 2009

Some more wedding: the ceremony

There will be photos and films and the wide-screen, 3-D (red and green glasses provided), Cinemascope, sense-surround production is at post-production stage. In the meantime, words.

The morning sunny, the day hot. Too hot for a suit but suit it is. C splendid in aqua green, me in dark, cornflower blue shirt, plain purple tie with purple button-hole as requested. Drive in to Norwich. Take brother for a drink while C goes off to help bride dress. Brother and I sit under a shade in a cafe courtyard and talk music, about how far music represents real, specific experiences. He argues from Delius, I refute from Schubert. Then to the church hall and I go on to bride's hotel, meeting bridesmaids who have been told, Dress just as you like. Bride has no veil, no train, just a bit of purple in the hair. The dress when it appears is quite stunning, in white and turquoise, with flashings and vent and bodice and just a little lace. The five of us then promenade through the street with M our poet and photographer looking for photo-ops. H sees dress shop with some zany clothes and is egged on to be photographed in the window. She agrees. The shop helpfully make room and she strikes mannequin poses. More poses in other appropriate looking places along the way. We feel like a cross between a Mafia wedding, a Fellini film, and Reservoir Dogs.

Then the church hall. It's not a religious service: it's architecture of ritual around the act of taking the vows, exchanging rings, kissing, and signing the book, We enter by a side door and wait. The registrar, a woman, speaks broad scouse (later she will drop the accent and do elocution with hint of scouse). She is all good humour. She is anticipating enjoying this, and clearly does. When all ready, son Tom and my brother strike up a Grieg on violin and piano and bridal procession enters. It is to be both father and mother giving away the bride. Later both bride and groom will make speeches, intercutting with each other. Feminism in wonderfully soufflé mode, all good nature and naturalness, so it is natural and certainly right.

I read the poem on the front of this site, then Clarissa's sister and her daughter Catherine, play piano and cello. We get a reading from Freddie Mercury lyrics (Rich is a serious Queen fan). Then the signing of the register, and lastly, bride gets up to play piano accompaniment to my brother playing the coda from Brahms Hungarian Dance no.5. Brother is not only fully at home in this but more or less has it inscribed on his bones. It goes magnificently. More photo ops, then back down the aisle, in slow motion.

It is all wonderfullly good humoured, sweet, absurd, and moving. It is deadly serious and yet a party, a blend of the meticulously planned and improvised. Inside I am moved to tears, on the outside I just grin and grin. C, magnificent, beautiful and radiant is a little weepy then dances ahead to the medieval hall.

That's for next time. Now I think of weddings. I know many do without it. C and I did a very simple sliced white bread with practically no butter version. But there is something in the solemnity, the witnessing, the ceremonial, the sheer culminating joy and playfulness of it that works. All poets at heart are ritualists and anti-ritualists at the same time. Form and spirit as concord. An ancient metaphor.

Now to dash off to do a quick broadcast for Rotterdam radio. (Later: actually,er, Festival TV)

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