Friday, November 16, 2007

The one about our wedding...

So, our wedding then.
Seghill Church Northumberland (left)
17th September 1983
My birthday.

Main points already covered here.

But what I didn't mention is the bit part that I had, the groom bit part.

You see, nobody knew who I was.

I was still the stranger in town, well more the stranger in the pit village actually, a small community where everyone knew everyone else's business, where everyone had lived in each other's pockets for the whole of their lives, and I'd only lived there for two years, I was a nobody.

You can tell that is the case by the shot on the video as me and Ned arrive at the church and walk down the path, the video man stands halfway down the path and films us walking towards him - in front of us is walking one of Suzannes uncles who is helping an old witch on her way to curse and phlegh at the vicar, the old witch being one of Suzannes miriad of elder relatives, a wittering, bitching old hag who never had a good word to say about anyone ... anyway, as we walked past them towards the video she is clearly heard to say to Suzannes uncle "Whee's 'ee then ?" (translation "Who is he then") to which Suzannes uncle replies "He's the groom, he's the one getting married to wor Suzanne" to which she doesn't look at all impressed - she'd actually gone to the trouble of getting all dressed up and hobbling all the way to the church to attend a wedding where she didn't even know who the groom was.

The video camera was a new innovation and involved lugging around a portable version of the Ferguson Videostar tape recorder hung on your shoulder while on your opposite shoulder you supported a camera the size of a small wardrobe, the whole kit costing several thousand pounds and producing shaky out of focus uneditable films which now resemble the Laurel and Hardy film just below this post.

The only reason that we could afford the video man is because he was for free, he was the son of the photographer-man who in turn was a bloke who worked at the same place as Suzanne did and who fancied himself as a bit of an amateur wedding photographer, very amateur as it turned out as I, the groom, the second most important person in the wedding party, do not feature in any of his photographs - the compulsory photo of their wedding day, the one with the bride and groom stood on the steps of the church - that one, that everyone has hanging on the wall of their house shows my new wife and her father standing on the steps of the church - I repeat, the amateur photographer who took the photographs and videoed our wedding didn't bother to take any photographs of me.

Have I mentioned that I was an outsider in the village ?
Am I also giving the impression that our wedding was done on the cheap ?

So we got married by a fire and brimstone stylee vicar who terrified all of the old ladies in the congregation (I knew none of them) by shouting and pointing at them and condemning their souls all to hell before pausing, smiling ingenuously, holding his hands together and sweetly saying, "...and now we come to the wedding of Suzanne of this village and, erm, this other person here..."

And afterwards the video shows us exiting the church together, arm in arm, and pausing for the traditional photograph on the church steps to find the photographer still inside the church picking up his gadget bag which had dropped gadgets all over the floor when he tried to pick it up earlier, the video man was there though so we have at least video evidence that I was actually present on the day, for there I am stood on the church steps for a few precious seconds until the surge of guests from inside the church shoves us down the steps and I disappear from the video evidence for ever.

What follows is the bumbling photographer trying to remember which order he has to take the photographs in and managing in the process to get a photograph of the bride with every combination of every person present, except me of course, I get the job of shepherding people to and from the church steps for the photographs, the job that the photographers assistant should have been doing, had he not been lugging the video equipment around.

You can tell from our video that it was the first time that he had used the video camera, you can tell that by the way that he doesn't know where the "off" switch is so we get a half hour of constant uneditable filming of everything that he was looking at through the viewfinder. The fact that he was just a young kid inexperienced in the art of shoving your way to the front of a wedding crowd also means that he spent most of the time filming from the back of the crowd, and at village weddings like ours you get the whole village turning out to the church, not because they like you but because they try and sneak into your reception for free food and beer.

So our wedding video consists of long shots of the back of the heads of the crowd with occasional glimpses of the bride stood on the steps having her photograph taken with yet another random villager, and of course all you can hear is the voices of the two people stood in front of the videoman, stuff like "...wheee, whee's tha blerk then ?" (translation "Well who is the groom then ?") replied with "..ah divvent kna pet, haven't seen him, he's a stranger apparently"

There is a classic bit in the video that I love to show to visitors where the videoman realises that he is not getting very good shots from the back of the crowd so he goes for a wander around to see if he can get a better view elsewhere, but of course he doesn't know how to switch the camera off and its bloody heavy on his shoulder so he lets it swing from his arms and we get to see the footpath, grass and some gravestones as he hunts around for a new vantage point until he lifts it back to his shoulder again and we get to see...

...two of my uncles stood some distance away behind a large gravestone, smiling and waving with one hand.

I asked them later what they were doing stood together behind the gravestone, they looked sheepish and suprised that someone had spotted them, then horror-struck when I told then I'd seen them on the video.

They'd got tired of standing around for photographs and so had gone for a piss behind the large gravestone, both stood there waving one-handed at the camera whilst slashing up against the grave of someone of the village who probably didn't deserve to be pissed all over - my uncle Ralph told me it was actually a family grave and he'd got so enthralled at reading the list of people buried beneath his feet that he'd accidently pissed all over his Hush Puppies.

These were my people, sophisticated.
A posh wedding would have been wasted on them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its best to say Nort! says her, tears streaming down her face.