Saturday 31 May 2008

If good friends are the blood of life, I have pints aplenty!

I have felt better. If I’m confused at this stage, then lord only knows how confused you’re going to get. And now it sounds like the intro to ‘Soap’.
'Confused ... you will be.’
It’s not very difficult to understand. I’m sitting here feeling slightly less shite than I expected to, having gone out last night with a great gathering of lads to quietly acknowledge the rather bland fact that it was my 48th Birthday; to raise a longed-for glass of whiskey back home in Galway to my father, who I had buried exactly a week before in London, and to give the boys a chance to tease me, unbridled and vulnerable, on my Stag, six nights before the Snapper and I tie the knot.
I’m not offering one night; not even two; come out with me and I’ll give you three occasions in one whiskey-sodden guffaw.
Straightforward so far, but consider, or even sympathise with my addled brain a little, as I contemplate the fact that by the time you read this, the wedding ceremony and lunch will have long ago been duly performed in London. Against the towering Victorian brick chimneys and English arcadian splendour of W.S. Gilbert’s old house (he of ‘...and Sullivan’) I will have finally seen her dress, with her in it, and our ceremony and songs of commitment will have spread softly to speeches made, toasts and tipples.
And rather than hide the fact, I will have acknowledged that we planned it there especially so that my father might come. The day was hers, but in his honour.
Then, before I let things get too morbid, I will have broken the mood with some jibe about how I used to have pinup photos of Chelsea players on my walls when I was a 10 year-old, but I don’t think I ever expected my wife to have John Terry plastered over her bedroom.
When I dribbled some doubts, she explained that whilst I was a fan, she had become a convert.
“Converts are always more scary, Charlie!”.
“Yes love, but I have to lie in bed with him up there, waving his arms around and shouting down at me.”
“Oh for goodness sake get over it. He’s my boy, and you’re my man. How’s that?”
“Well, it was fine, until the ‘How’s that’ bit!”
Oh no. This is a creeper. You know the creeper hangover? You wake up feeling much better than you expected, but a few hours later (right around now in fact) you start to feel as if somebody has sewn a tightly-sprung alice band under the skin of your forehead, and it wants out.
Originally, I was going to write this colyoom on the first morning of our three night mini-honeymoon. But so great is my need to stop, completely, soon, those days have been deemed sacred. Insufficient: yes, but a start; and for relaxation, each day at the Rosleague Manor Hotel is akin to a week spent languishing in other places.
So I’m trying to do the wedding piece before the wedding to preserve my sanity, but evidently I now find out that it’s too late; my lucid brain has gone to fly swoopsies with the midges down by the bog cotton.
3-in-One: I miss my Dad. I am very middle aged. I am getting married .
It’s enough for a week.
Thankfully, there is one certainty in the midst of my maelstrom.
One fact that reigns over this moment, which is all we ever have.
Right now, I have never felt so sure that I am marrying the right woman. I have never felt love for her as I felt over the last few difficult weeks and months. She has been by my side, her back-scraping fingernails, smiling face and hugs hugs hugs, and I am truly grateful.
We both have our feet on the ground. We know we are both dangerous control freaks, each as mad in a million irritating and even nauseating ways as the other, but hell, love is a human emotion, and we are all so very human: fallible; fucked-up; freaked out and fantastic.
Weddings might be fun, but it is the marriage that matters.
Marriage is not about Happy Ever After.
Marriage is about leaning on and being leaned on, acknowledging and sharing your moments of happiness with somebody you love, and your very human life with another human being.
My Snapper is the woman I want to share it all with, hers and mine.
Through all the confusion of emotion and copy deadlines, there shines that single simple truth .
In line with all that, I now exploit most shamelessly these column inches, in order to thank people for jobs that many have not yet, as I sit here now, done. Once again though, by the time you read this, chunks of Galway will have tired smiles and throbbing heads full of memories of a night out... and these are the people that made that night; the day in England three days earlier; all of it.
Where else to start but our parents, who had the foresight, athleticism, energy and although one never wants to actually think about it, urge to bring us wee treasures into the world, thereafter to sublimate their lives to nurture and love us for ever more.
Thanks for that.
Thanks to Kev and Cian for letting us have Mo’s, and being brilliant throughout a terribly hard time.
Thanks to all the barstaff and servers who sweated and smiled and made the night. Thanks to chefs Enda, Chris, Therese and Gary for the food.
Thanks to Monty for the sensitive smoochers and pumping it up and taking us with you.
Thanks to Simon and his splendid guitar, fiddlers, goatskin and flying Irish tunes.
Thanks to Harriet for all her imagination and hard work, making the place look both astonishingly fresh and full of joy.
Thanks to Hugo, Andy, Joe, Anthony Fitz and Paul; to Isabelle, Ciaran, Anu, Hillary, Gillian , Camilla, Jen and Jenny; and best, last, most of all, still under the shadow of my father’s death, I say thanks for the fact that if good friends are the blood of life, I have pints aplenty!

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