I never expected the Party of the Family to make it so difficult for a man to get married. But as Boris Johnson stood hunched at the dispatch box like a pallbearer of bad news, the wedding plans of my fiancée and I fell apart like a cheap bouquet. Who knew that the coronavirus and confetti do not go together like a horse and carriage?
The announcement that such gatherings will be limited to 15 people means that our hopes of saying “I do” have now been kicked in the unmentionables for a third time. How can it be this hard to utter two syllables? An original date in May was postponed as the Beast from the East rode into town. Failing to hold our nerve at the start of summer, a second booking for August was duly scotched. Toe-punting the can down the road, we eventually settled for the final Sunday before Christmas.
Please believe me – I do know that there are bigger problems than this. Friends who play in bands are up on bricks, cinemas are empty, and restaurants are preparing to feed uncooked food to wolves baying at their door. Certainly, my little story is as nothing compared with those of the dead and bereaved. In the words of the great Cockney philosopher David Essex, it’s only a winter’s tale, just another winter’s tale.
But cut me a break, will you? On a day like this, it can feel as if I’ve asked Godot to be my best man. And it’s not as if the marriage of Ian Eric Winwood and Ruth Mary Knowles is the kind of happening that will trouble the society editor at The Tatler. All we wanted was a party for young and old at the lovely pub at the end of our street here in Camden Town. A bash ‘em out band, a DJ, a bit of food and an open bar. How hard that can be?
Still, I remain grateful for small mercies. I am fortunate to be engaged to someone who already understands that she’s the luckiest girl in the world. Last May, I fell to bended knee at Embankment Station, the site of our first date, and presented her with a £15 ring from Camden Market. “I hope this will do,” I explained as she hoisted me to my feet, “I thought it best to let you choose the proper one.” I then took her to a concert by Kiss. Tell me I don’t know how to treat a lady.
According to serial murderers, it’s the first kill that’s the hardest. The same is true when it comes to postponing weddings. What in the spring was an anxiety-making palaver that never slept has by now become a tragicomic shrug. Last night over the washing up, my intended and I decided that, if needs must, come December we will marry alone. Ruth will wear her wedding dress and I’ll don my best suit – by which I mean my only suit. After this, we’ll enjoy a date night at the pictures.
We have, though, agreed to host a proper wedding party when all this is over. Whenever that might be.