Monday, 30 November 2015

Drama on drama or just a case of really bad timing?

As the seasons turn in this north Yorkshire village, so we move from celebrating May Day complete with choreographed pole dancing (!), Feast (without the preposition, just Feast!) in the summer, through to Halloween, Remembrance Sunday and then to the Pantomime.

Each year, it is a joyfully hilarious celebration of gutsy singing, terrible jokes, audience participation, amazing costumes - especially for the dame - and sums up a great deal of what village life is about. Otherwise perfectly normal people paint false moustaches, dress up as members of the opposite sex, slap thighs and take custard pies... well, on the chin. The effort that goes into this is truly phenomenal and if it runs to nearly the length of The Ring Cycle, then so be it.

Normally the final night of the Panto would have been this Saturday but because two cast members of Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates - namely Robinson Crusoe herself and one of the aforementioned Pirates - will be joining us at The Wedding, the Panto started a day early in order to release them for our own celebration. So it would have been churlish not to go along last Friday. Actually it would have taken several wild horses for us to miss it. Who can forget the multitude of nearly completed costume changes by the dame - great wiggle in the Beyonce dress, I thought! Or the orange starfish, or indeed the tightness of the trousers of one of the cricket team... Enough drama to sustain us until our own drama begins this weekend. Or so we thought...

Waking up with excruciating chest pains and an inability to breath at 1.00am that night was not in the plan. I eventually managed to sit up and call my beloved for help. If I said it was frightening I don't think fear actually entered my head. I was too busy trying to breathe against the tightening across my chest and upper arms. My beloved suggested he call the dancing doctor (married to the singing doctor who had been slapping her thigh as Robinson Crusoe earlier in the evening). I nodded, because it was hard enough to breathe, let alone speak. Within a very few minutes (he must sleep with his clothes on) he was there, taking my pulse - 'weak, thready' and taking in my obviously not-looking-my best appearance. Hospital, he pronounced. My beloved immediately said he would take me. I was breathing somewhere near normally by now but not taking much part in events. No, paramedics, now.

OK, I am now alert enough to be panicking myself and all I can see is my beautiful outfit for my beautiful daughter's beautiful wedding hanging on the front of the wardrobe. I might not get to wear this... (My number 1 daughter who read this in draft form would like me to point out here that it was not because I thought I was dying but more worried about how long I might be hospitalised for.) Don't let anyone tell you that the NHS is not brilliant in a crisis. Fifteen minutes later, my bedroom (not that big) is populated by me, my beloved, the dancing doctor, 3 paramedics and a machine rather larger than a microwave which has enough wires for broadband attached to various parts of me.

Now although nothing like this has ever happened to me before, I was feeling a bit of a fraud by now, but no amount of pleading was going to stop the paramedics taking me to hospital for what turned into a night of blood tests and chest x-rays. The long and short of it being that everything came back negative and although I've felt poorly for a few days I am now starting to feel better in time for the big day.

So thank you to the cast of thousands who made the panto so brilliant (see it if you can...) and to a similar sized cast who made sure that I am going to make it to the wedding - although it's only Thursday and so much could yet go wrong... The NHS is wonderful, everyone who looked after me here and at Harrogate Hospital was absolutely fantastic and worth every penny and more that we pay in tax.

So just a case of really bad timing? Oh no it isn't... Oh yes it is!

I wrote this last week before The Big Day which turned out to be the most wonderful, happiest weekend of my life so far. But you'll have to wait for the blog which may turn out to be of similar epic proportions to the aforementioned panto!! 

Monday, 9 November 2015

Wedding Fever - Getting a bit soppy here...

We are now rapidly counting down to the first of our children's weddings - number 2 marries the lovely JS in less than three weeks and it feels as though we have gone from serenely cruising towards the big day to rushing at it headlong. Nearly everything has been organised - most of it ages ago and nearly every detail micro-managed by the bride to be - as those of us who know her would expect!

But the significance of the day, the real meaning of all this dashing about with fabric swatches, lighting schemes, flower and hymn choices, has come home to roost now with me. For most importantly, their wedding day is just the first day of a life together of every days. Whilst we have had weeks and months planning the minutiae, now the greater significance of what lies ahead on November 28th is front and centre - a notion which perhaps one has to have been married for many years to truly understand.

A few weeks ago we were looking for suitable readings for the wedding of bride number 2, aka daughter number 1, who will be making her own way down the aisle at the end of April 2016. In our modern world, readings are not confined to the Bible or at best, the Bard. Now the bride and groom seek out passages and poems which mean a lot to them or reflect most closely their feelings for each other. In the course of looking out some readings for them, I found a number which resonated with me, and having taken out their choices - because it would be unfair to let the cat out of the bag at this point - I thought I would share some of them here.

It has to be said that perhaps they would not have been my choices thirty one and a half years ago. Shamefully, I cannot remember the reading we had on the day and my memories of the service are fleeting at best. Perhaps it takes the roller coaster of life together to shape one's thoughts and emotions on what it means to love and be loved, and to marry and be married. So here are a few which I thought were particularly beautiful. Not chosen by either of the current stock of brides but, you never know, by the end of April it will be two down and two to go so perhaps they will yet get an airing...

Once upon a time, there was a boy. He lived in a village that no longer exists, in a house that no longer exists, on the edge of a field that no longer exists, where everything was discovered, and everything was possible. A stick could be a sword, a pebble could be a diamond, a tree, a castle. Once upon a time, there was a boy who lived in a house across the field, from a girl who no longer exists. They made up a thousand games. She was queen and he was king. In the autumn light her hair shone like a crown. They collected the world in small handfuls, and when the sky grew dark, and they parted with leaves in their hair.
Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.
"It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.
It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring with your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it's not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes!’
It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand alone in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back....

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep. 
Love. How to describe it? So that it endures - not gouged out like a scar on the all-too-visible soul but encrusted on the heart like a secret jewel. Sometimes only seen or felt by the two of you. And then at other times, it will shine like a beacon and other folks and fools will tell you how lucky you are. 
Don’t listen to people who tell you how lucky you are to find love. Perhaps your meeting was luck... or perhaps it was written in the stars. But what lies ahead has nothing to do with luck. Your commitment to each other - spoken here in front of those who love you more than you can ever know - is so much more than a moment of words. 
Love lies in the determination to face life’s challenges together. It lies in taking the bad with the good. On a sunny, happy day, you cannot imagine the mountains that will have to be climbed in unsuitable shoes.
You commit to each other a lifetime of making a home in your hearts - perhaps it will need to be big enough for a whole family. You commit to being the best you can be even when all you want to offer up is your worst. You commit to making decisions which are best for you both and not just for yourself. Harder than you might think. 
Love each other every day. Forgive each other for all your failings, however miserable. Share all the joy in equal measures for each other. Laugh together. Be the missing pieces in each other’s jigsaw. Not just for this blissful moment, but for always.