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It was somewhat embarrassing having to provide a written description of my holdall and its contents for the baggage handler at Palma Airport on Saturday. Let's face it, who can genuinely put their hand in the air and recite a list of the contents of their beloved suitcase without one or two of the items causing some embarrassment. In my case it was the Tesco's Mediterranean Vegetable Quiche, the half jar of Hellmann's Mayonnaise and the Rive Gauche perfume which my wife had put in my wash bag because she said that her case was too full - but who's going to believe that! The fact that neither of us could agree whether the holdall was black or dark blue did not help, though we were both agreed that the zip was broken and the top torn. So really what chance do you stand of ever getting something like that back when it's been lost somewhere between Manchester and Palma?
Well the figures say a 90 percent chance.
In fact my brother in law who was staying with us at the time and who used to spend most of his life flying between major airports, refused to join me in my frenzied state because, as he said, “I've lost bags dozens of times and they've always turned up eventually”. That's fine but he has never lost one with my precious diary in it which contained the times and places of this year's 41 weddings. I was bereft and panicking although even that had to be kept under control as all my clean underpants were in the bag with my mobile phone charger and that was about to go down anytime.
K Dirty underpants
SO I completed the appropriate forms, spent hours on the phone trying to speak to bmibaby and the luggage–handling people in Manchester who are all obviously staffed entirely by the same automaton. The recorded message spent all its time encouraging me to press an endless series of buttons until my finger ached – but refused to actually talk to me, have a conversation or soak up some of my anxiety. Each morning I made my daily pilgrimage down to the Ineuropa handling office at the airport. There the man who had become my best friend shook his head ruefully but assured me that the details of the contents of my holdall had been emailed right round the world - half bottles of mayo, dirty underpants, sprays of perfume - so no problem there then! Oh the ignominy of it! But who in their right mind would want to touch, never mind redirect such toxic material back to Palma? At the low point I would have given the wife and children away simply to get my diary back.
Normally it goes wherever I go, we're never separated and I had visions of brides standing at altars crying because the priest had not shown up. Public humiliation would be the order of the day. In fact I was just about to hit the “mail all” key on my computer with the message “I have lost my diary. If you have an appointment booked with me this year please e–mail me urgently” but then the phone call came. Never have dirty underpants and smelly socks been so welcomed. The diary was hugged and kissed and welcomed home like the prodigal son and the vegetable flan.......well, we had the flan for supper last night with salad and jacket potatoes. It seemed to have matured quite well during its four–day sojourn heaven knows where! K Dogged weariness
SO joy of joys our wedding season is just about to begin. Last year our wedding juggernaut fired up in March and ran out of steam in December having rolled through anything up to four weddings on certain Saturdays in between. I can still remember the feeling of dogged weariness as I trumpeted: “Please stand for the entrance of the bride” for the third time, knowing that I still had one to go. But every wedding was unique and mattered absolutely to those involved. So what, that a service was number three in my day's batting order; for the couple, it was the big moment, their one and (one hopes) only. I like to think that no whiff of mass–produced sausage factory ever touched my weddings.
K Buxom Bridesmaid
OF course there are some ceremonies that always stick in the mind: the grooms with “HE” and “LP” felt–tipped onto the soles of their shoes.
Or the awful occasion that instead of declaring them “Man and wife” I solemnly pronounced that they were now “Man and wine”. And who could forget the buxom bridesmaid who whipped out her breast in the middle of the proceedings and started to breast feed the tiny pageboy who was playing up. There was the Goth bride who wore black and the six–foot rugby player who couldn't get his words out because he was blubbing so much. And that's not to mention the wedding where the best man forgot the rings, which was so beautifully caught on camera by the BBC's 'Passport to the Sun' filming crew. One service that I remember clearly was when the electricity failed just before we got under way which meant no lighting and no organ. As the verger and choir bustled about, amassing an impressive display of candle–power I remember making inane small talk with the worried and non–plussed congregation, “This will be such a special wedding – it'll be the first by candlelight for more than a century,” I said cheerily. At that, the angels, shuddering somewhat perhaps, took pity, and power was restored just as I was about to lead a massed humming of “Here comes the bride”.
K Disgruntled boyfriend
MIND you the potentiality for things going wrong are enormous. I've had couples book a wedding and then I've never heard from them again. Last year I had a cheque bounce and there's very little you can do about that. When I enquired about it at the Halifax Building Society the girl on the computer simply shrugged her shoulders and said, “I wouldn't waste any more time trying to get your money it will be a waste of effort.” I don't want to tempt fate but I've never had a bride faint or throw up on me with nerves though sometimes they've been giggling so much with tension that they couldn't get their words out. The bit I always dread is when I have to ask, “Does anyone know of any just cause or impediment why this couple may not be joined together in Holy Matrimony?” There's always a silence and I dread the thought of a loony aunt or disgruntled former boyfriend lurching down the aisle. That possibility is always at the top of any clerical marriage trauma list. But no worry we've got forty-one opportunities for marriage mayhem to raise its ugly head this year!