Tuesday, 17 January 2012
Day 17 – Black - Wonderful Life
Wonderful Life is a beautiful song and back in 1987 life really seemed wonderful. The video is even better – I think its mesmerising.
At that time, W and I had bought our first house in Altrincham, a three bedroomed semi-detached house – though the third bedroom was so tiny that you could barely swing around a cat in it – not that I would ever have done that.
I’ve always been tempted to ask people how they can dare to describe a house as having three bedrooms when you cannot actually fit a bed in the small room that masquerades as that third bedroom.
“This isn’t a three bedroomed house – unless the third bedroom’s for a bloody cat.” was a consistent rant for me at the time.
In a moment of madness, I bought a rowing machine that year and tried to set it up in that third bedroom – no chance. It barely fit – I had to use it with the door open and I kept smashing my elbows on the walls.
It was even more disastrous than that because the thing was so cheap that when I dismantled it to move it to the “second bedroom” I almost castrated myself with the springs before bending the metal and effectively rendering the thing unusable.
How I put it together in the first place is beyond me – and how it managed to survive as long as it did without running my chances of procreation is another miracle.
Anyway, I digress; the wedding was planned for 1988 and we were (sharp intake of breath) “living in sin”.
W’s mum is a lovely woman but she has always had principles, and she frowned on people who didn’t adhere to them. I was surprised to find that when we went to visit them and stayed over, I was not allowed to share a room with W – even though she knew that we shared a room back in Manchester.
I respected her so I slept in a separate room. It was no bother, though I did joke about it on occasion.
It’s quite amazing how the whole process of dealing with and living in a relationship has changed over the years. Tradition dictates that a relationship is almost like a recipe – you have to follow certain steps.
Remember my first major girlfriend, C, from my post a few days ago? Well her mother made it quite clear from the very start what she thought of young men.
We had been going out for about three months when I went to her house. As soon as I sat down, her mum offered me a cup of tea and then, in the next breath, said openly in front of C, her brother and her father:
“If you make my daughter pregnant, I will cut off your balls. Would you like some sugar with your tea?”
It was a surreal moment and I actually laughed out loud before realising that she was deadly serious.
W’s mum wasn’t that bad but she expected me to follow tradition. I had already failed because W had proposed to me. I would have to repair the damage by asking W’s dad for her hand in marriage.
W’s mum nagged W to nag me to do this but I steadfastly refused. W's mum would never have nagged me; I found it weird that there was a middle-(wo)man and when I talked to W's mum, the subject was never broached - but we both knew what was going on.
I told W that people don’t do that sort of thing anymore and no matter how hard she tried to persuade me, there was no way I was going to do it.
And I didn’t.
In fact, W’s dad didn’t seem to mind at all – as far as he was concerned, the deed had already been done. What’s more, I later found out that W’s mum was upset because W had got engaged without discussing it with her first.
I was quite surprised and in retrospect I might have done things differently. It would have been a gesture, nothing more, that would have made W’s mum happy and content. Perhaps I was just too stubborn.
In the end, it didn’t matter – we all got on very well and I was already a part of the family.
Tradition is important to some people and in the interests of harmony, I could and perhaps should have been more flexible.
It’s the little things that can sometimes make life more pleasurable.
W’s mum got her own way at the wedding though – and I was a willing pawn, being shoved around, photographed, videoed all in the name of pomp and ceremony.
It was a very traditional wedding and W and I were, as expected, the centre of attention, something I was definitely not used to. There was certainly no invitation for shyness or introversion, which made the day even more of a struggle for me.
I had to make a speech (my first real public speaking exercise) and everybody wanted to speak to me, especially relatives that I had never met before. At one stage, both W and I found separate hiding places and just spent about an hour in total solitude trying to get our breath back.
People were wondering where the bride and groom were and when I turned up some time before W, I was interrogated.
“I haven’t seen her – I reckon she’s hiding – that’s where I have been.”
It was a great day and everybody enjoyed it.
At that point in my life, I can honestly say that Wonderful Life seemed to sum everything up perfectly - for a while at least.