Hazel and I weren’t going to get married nor celebrate our coming together in any way. We simply didn’t feel it necessary. I don’t remember when we changed our mind but I think what changed our minds was that some people seemed sceptical about Hazel’s expanded sexuality. They seemed cynical that our relationship would last. So we decided to do something to show them we were serious. Also, we wanted a party!
We didn’t need to get legally married and decided on a Commitment Ceremony. I had always wanted to get married by the water so we started looking at venues that would suit. At this stage we were still living in the flat in Roydon, Essex and we looked at places by the river in Ware and at a water garden in Bedfordshire. Eventually we considered Norfolk and the Broads and settled on a small hotel by Sutton Staithe near Stalham. That gave us the perfect excuse to have our honeymoon in Norfolk as by then Hazel’s illness had got bad enough that we had given up travelling by air. I had my eye on a lovely little riverside property on the Bure at Horning. It was a sixties property called Deerfoot that I had passed many times and was in love with. I’m glad we stayed there because within a couple of years they had pulled it down and replaced with it a far less interesting property.
What we didn’t know at the time was that come the summer I would have walked away from my job at Fitzpatrick and Hazel and I had upped sticks and moved to Norfolk. So in the end we lived, got married, and had our honeymoon within a five mile radius.
The planning began. We didn’t want a traditional wedding in any way, shape or form. It wasn’t our thing. So no blancmange dress, no bridesmaids, no speeches, and certainly no religion. Instead we looked into Humanist ceremonies. It was an interesting exploration into Humanism itself. I had long considered myself a Humanist without actually looking into what it meant. Of course, ultimately it is nothing more than a philosophy and we don’t belong to any Humanist organisation – we don’t feel the need. Besides, I have long followed the Groucho Marx view that I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member!
The next thing on our check list was music. We wanted something different. Hazel and I both scoured the internet looking for something a little different. We rejected find after find until we chanced upon the Cosmic Sausages. We managed to book them though they were a bit reluctant to commit as they were touring Italy just beforehand and hoped to extend their tour. Finally they agreed.
And that was it. All planning done and the day came around. It was delightful to see all our friends together. Very few invited were absent. The ceremony at noon and wedding breakfast straight-after made up the entire ceremony. There was no separate evening reception so all our family and friends were there for the whole event.
The day began with rain and it looked set to stay. We had a back-up plan to have the ceremony indoors but I was disappointed. I really wanted to get married on the Staithe close to the water. And at about three minutes to 12 as we were assembling people in the lounge, the rain stopped and the sun came out. We dashed to the Staithe – well some dashed, some whizzed on their mobility scooters and some just brought up the rear but we held the ceremony on the grass with barely a spot of rain. It resumed later when we got back inside but we made our aspirations and commitments in the dry.
And so the food and the music. As things got underway the Cosmic Sausages assembled just by my dad’s table. Playing a light jazz they were still quite loud in his ear and I think he was a bit pissed off that I had placed them right there. Of course, after a couple of numbers they started to do their thing and moved off circulating the room. To try and describe their act is difficult. How do you accurately describe a band dressed in Hawaiian shirts and plastic snorkels, carrying the double bass like a coffin, whilst playing the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang theme? One of the enduring memories I have of that afternoon was watching my dad, now quite pacified, playing spoons with the band. Thankfully it was captured on camera.
It was a wonderful day. Not only were Hazel and I able to show our commitment to each other we were able to do it in front of our friends and family. I think we rather shot ourselves in the foot with the Cosmic Sausages though as they were the major talking point after the event.
And so, at the heady hour of 5pm, Hazel and I shot off to Deerfoot, a 10 minute drive by road and left our guests to it. I hope they enjoyed themselves as much as we did.