An Adventure Up North

A surprise invitation…

It’s rare that I’m called out of my hiding place in Cornwall, but a special occasion this month proved just the thing to get me out of the county.

Weddings are odd events. They are both homogeneous and completely unique at the same time. Throughout your life (depending on how popular you are) you’ll be end up going to dozens of weddings, each one of them lodging irrevocably in your mind whilst simultaneously melding together . Whilst the couples will always appear radiant on the day, your enjoyment of the event will always depend on your closeness with those getting married (and the strength of the drinks on hand).

I remember that there was a period of time in my twenties when it felt like I was going to a wedding every other weekend, but soon enough the flow of invitations, which once felt like an endless cascade of ivory embossed cards slowed to a trickle, until the only envelopes adorning my door mat were politely asking me to pay my bills. I’m now in my fifties and my door mat is clear most days which means that all my friends have either married or died…and that I’ve finally managed to get a grip of my finances.

So, it should go without saying that I was more than a little surprised to find a plump ivory letter waiting for me when I came downstairs one morning last year. An old friend of mine from my farming days (who had somehow managed to keep hold of my address for nigh on 20 years) was getting married in Birmingham. It had been so long since I’d been to a wedding that I blindly accepted, hastily RSVP-ing that same day.

It wasn’t until I’d sent off the RSVP that I started to wrack my brain for the last time I’d even talked to this ghost from the past. Much like weddings, football games and waiting at bus stops – the monotonous days of farming had blended into one indiscernible mush in my mind. Keith had been the youngest of all of us and the most idealistic, perhaps he had been too ambitious to stay there. I marked the date on my calendar and then chose to put the whole thing out of my mind. No good would come of overthinking such a thing.

Before I knew it I was pulling on a wrinkled grey suit, sleeping on a train and stepping into a glitzy wedding venue in the centre of Birmingham. ‘Fish out of water’ does not quite do justice to how I was feeling. A vodka luge carved in the shape of a swan gurgled quietly in the corner, flowers decked out what must have been 20 tables and a lounge band on a raised stage kicked into life. A man in a dinner suit approached me with a beaming smile. He was handsome, in his 30s and didn’t look like anyone that I knew.

“Maxwell, you made it! Darling, come and meet the man who’s responsible for getting me out of that God awful farm!”

Keith had changed, but at least we shared an opinion on the farm…