Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Chapter 6 A Wedding

Chapter 6

A Wedding

  Meanwhile there was great excitement at home:  Maddie’s fiancée was back in England and they were to be married in the summer.  I’d be a bridesmaid for the third time. 

“Binnie the new Staffie’s here.”

“Oooh what’s she like?”

“Nothing like the old one,” Annie teased”she always seemed so sad.”

“You’d be sad if you had met a soldier on a train just as he was leaving to go to the front.”

“What happened?”

“She used to live for his letters and then suddenly they stopped.  No explanation – nothing!”

“Poor lad!”

“No, no – he wasn’t killed or anything.  He just stopped writing.  He was the first boy friend she’d ever had.  It broke her heart.”

  We met the new Staffie at lunch and she was like no-one I had ever met before; she was stunning in appearance – tall and slender with black hair which she wore in a soft roll framing her pale, delicate features.  She was so cool and at night when we came off duty she would let her hair down – actually and figuratively whilst we young girls sat listening to her tales - enthralled.  The down side was she was quite sniffy about the fact that we were all going on to Pendlebury which she seemed to think was a waste of time.

  We were all sad when Matron told us she was going to retire.  I had grown quite fond of her although I always regretted how she had spoken about Lottie to Mum and me.

She called me into her office and said,

“I’m sending you to the main Hospital next month Nurse.” 

My stomach lurched

“But Matron I thought I was to start in October?”

I didn’t want to leave before my time when life was such fun.

“You will certainly start your training in October Nurse but I want you to attend the Prize Giving Ceremony.  After a rocky start you have steadily improved and I’m proposing you for the annual prize of ‘Best Practical Nurse’.

As soon as I came off duty I rushed to the Post Office to phone Mum at work.  I don’t know what demon got into me whilst I was waiting for them to find her but when she came I said,

“I’ve been thrown out Mum!”

  A word of advice- if you ever feel tempted to play a prank on someone don’t do it on the phone.  It was ages before I could convince Mum all was well.  What an idiot I was!

  We were all excited about the wedding and Mum, Maddie and the Aunts were busy with all the arrangements.  I thought Maddie was crazy for leaving art school before graduating, now that Paul was home.  It must have been strange being engaged when they had only met for a week, previously, with me – like the poor – always with them.  His time in India and Japan had changed him from a young soldier to a mature man of the world.  His family lived in London but his father in the Civil Service was billeted in Cleveleys and worked a few miles from the Convalescent Home, so he invited me out for the day.  He was short, bald and looked like an Oriental sage.  He seemed to know everything and I hung on his every utterance – fascinated- and decided I liked older men, even though he made me feel a little gauche- well I was a little gauche.

 One of Paul’s army friends Sean was to be best man, and an old boy friend of Maddie’s also in the army would be an usher and Evan our brother was chief usher.  Her best friend and I were bridesmaids and we managed to agree on a midnight blue, crepe dress with a keyhole neckline as one of us wanted a high neck - probably prissy me - and one a low one. It was the days of 'powder blue with burgundy accessories’ and ladies didn't venture out without hat, gloves and handbag - ideally of the same hue.

   Maddie lost a lot of weight during the preparations but she seemed happy and excited. Only two more years and I would be 19.  Would I follow in Mum and Maddie’s footsteps?  Not if I kept to my 5 year plan and took my Finals in 4 years time when I was 21.

  Matron had given me permission, before she left, to take my holiday to coincide with the wedding.  It wasn’t possible for Annie to get the same time off, and most of my old school friends were working, but Sarah – an old family friend whose mother was at Grammar school with mine - was free and keen to join me for a walking holiday after the wedding. 

  I said goodbye to everyone and told Annie that once we had started at the hospital we would be able to have time off together.  All was hectic at home – a melange of dresses, flowers, cakes, taxis and sleeping arrangements and we were all nervous about The Visitors. 
  There was a great North/South Divide and  Paul, his family, best man and two of Maddie’s fellow art students were all ‘B----y Southerners’.  I suspect we had a slight chip on our shoulders – it’s not as if we were that ‘broad’. 
‘Eeeh lass sit thissen down – tha looks clemmed an’ thy’rt wichart.  Utch up to’t fire an’ I’ll get thee a brew.’ 
We would only talk like that amongst ourselves.  ‘The Visitors’ would be treated to:
‘Do sit down.  You look cold and your feet are wet.  Come close to the fire and I will make you a cup of tea.’ 
There wasn’t much we could do about the accent.   Since moving out of the Valley Maddie and I had almost lost our strong Lancashire accent but back home A’s were flat and that was that!

But as Mum said ’if we all just be ourselves and make them welcome it’ll be alright.’ 
  The aunts had retired and sold the shoe shop.  They now lived in a pleasant house up on the leafy hill above the town so there was room for some of the guests, and the rest would stay at the hotel in Waterfoot where the reception was to be held.  As usual our house was bulging and Dad had now got an incubator in Evan’s bedroom so we had the excitement every morning of shining a torch to see if there were any fluffy yellow chickens. 
  The Aunts gave a party the night before the wedding and we all met up and mingled.  Paul’s friend Sean was handsome and very aware of it.  In fact both he and Paul gave the impression that the women out in India, had been swooning over them for the last two years, and they probably had.  Paul’s father, who I already knew, was as usual, a fund of interesting stories and enjoyed having an appreciative audience.  His family, who had heard them all before, were less attentive. 
Maddie’s girl friends were, to me, the height of sophistication.  One of them grabbed a tray of goodies, leant over Sean, flashing her embonpoint, and intoned in a sexy voice,

‘Sean. Can I tempt you?’
Bloody ‘ell!
All the Southerners spoke beautifully and would have beat Wilfred Pickles for a job on the wireless any day of the week. (Wilfred Pickles was a famous Yorkshire man who was sacked from his job as a BBC announcer because he had a Yorkshire accent. and for those of you who are not familiar with Lancashire and Yorkshire History I would point out that it isn’t wise to confuse the two and, of course, we won ‘The War of the Roses’.)
  On the day - the sun shone and it was warm - a rarity in the valley.  Maddie looked lovely and Dad was very smart in black jacket and striped trousers - his ’boiled ‘am suit’ he called it - only used for weddings and funerals.  Evan looked very grown up in long trousers and was a brilliant usher.  We all trooped up the left aisle, past our pew under the stained glass window of the Good Samaritan, and the congregation peeked round to look at us.  The church had its usual varnish smell mixed with Yardley’s Lavender.

  Paul and Sean looked stunning in their uniforms and swords- thank goodness it wasn’t that scratchy khaki that our uncles and cousins had worn. 
It was funny to hear Maddie repeating her vows in a shy, hesitant way whilst her left hand was nervously plucking at her dress.  The organist behaved himself.  He was old, deaf and eccentric and liable to let forth a mighty chord if he felt it had all gone on too long.  Back we all trooped down the other aisle past the Aunt’s pew and it was all over bar the bells and confetti. 
The reception was jolly and Maddie had ‘the distinction of cutting the wedding cake with the sword of her officer bridegroom’ according to the local rag.  I thought the Aunts should have been more to the fore but they were content to stay in the background and see the girl they had reared, married. 

  Before the happy couple left for their honey moon in Scotland Maddie and I had chance for a quick chat whilst she was doing last minute packing.

“What happens after the honey moon Maddie?”

“We’re going to Oxford and Paul is taking a special degree for ex-service men.  I’ll get a teaching job I suppose.  You must come down on your next holiday Pat and we can meet up with Liam and Jamie.”

“I’d like that.”

  Secretly I wondered why on earth she couldn’t finish her training at the Slade – it had been so difficult to get accepted. Part of me felt convinced that if she had been brought up at home she would have stuck with the training.

It was time to help Maddie get dressed in her going away suit.  She had lost a fair bit of weight and the plain suit emphasised her new svelte shape.

“You never had chance to tell me how things had gone when you took Paul home for the first time.”  Maddie rolled her eyes.

“ Well as you can imagine Mum put on a big spread: high tea with all the trimmings, the Shelley china, her special malt loaf – although I warned her Paul had had dysentery – and oh yes – and because of the dysentery she decided to do up the loo and painted the lavatory seat bright green.  Unfortunately she did it whilst Dad was at the match and forgot to tell him.  Guess what happened?”

“He didn’t!”

“Oh yes he did!  He smelt of turps for a week!”

“I wish I’d been there,” I giggled.

 “Pass me my skirt love.”

“How was Gran?”

“Well!  She was behaving like a duchess until she knocked the HP sauce bottle over.”

  “Don’t tell me…”

  “Stand up you long-necked bugger” she shouted and …”

 Maddie then collapsed on the bed in helpless laughter.

“Tell me! Tell me!”

“And - Paul -  stood - up!”

I also collapsed on the bed – tears rolling down our faces.

“Well he would wouldn’t he - him being used to taking orders?”

I really was going to miss Maddie.  Paul got quite irritated when we had giggling fits which only made us worse.  I would have to think of them as a couple from now on.

Gran would have the last laugh; these days with hands and fingers swollen and clumsy I know how easy it is to knock things over but I promise I don’t berate dumb objects.


Kim Ayres said...

If the toilet seat ever changes colour unexpectedly, I'll be sure to ask my wife first...

kenju said...

Excellent!! I look forward to more - and soon!

Pat said...

Kim: It is aa well to keep your wits about you at all times. Especially if you lived with my Mum.

Judy: I'd better keep at it then:)

giveitanothergo said...

Loving these glimpses into your past Pat. Are there photos of this wedding, although because of your very good writing I have a very good image in my head I would love to see some. Up until last year I had a 'boiled ‘am suit' (kept for none family weddings and all funerals), people don't bother now do they, we have been to a funeral today and you wouldn't believe how some of them were dressed! I must be getting old.



SDC said...

Oh, the giggles. The kind only sisters seem to get. We used to drive our mother nuts with those, I guess mostly because they always came at her expense and embarrassment. It's like a secret formula. Two sisters + anger/accident/embarrassing situation of an adult = uncontrollable fits of laughter. Ah, good times.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

The Green Toilet Seat is Hilarious!!! This is so much fun, Pat.....and, of course, serious, too...But I can just picture you and Maddie falling over in laughter---Those were the days, weren't they? I am loving this, dear Pat!

Pat said...

Helen; at the moment I can't post photos on my blog. I did post two of the wedding photos on my FB page.

SDC: yes you are right. Even giggles with friends never have the same in intensity as sister giggles. I miss them.

Naomi: of course if someone was being irritated by it control went out of the window.

angryparsnip said...

You show us such a wonderful time in your life.
Loved the green toilet seat story.

cheers, parsnip

Mage said...

But what a lot of fun you all had this trip. Giggles indeed.

Granny Annie said...

I only catch glimpses of your story from time to time, but one day I swear I am going to gulp it all up at once. You write so beautifully. When can I hold it in a book in my hands?

Pat said...

Granny Annie: wish I could answer that. I got fed up over the last few years with a roller coaster ride with agents and publishers - nearly gave up altogether and then decided to post a chapter at a time-working on it at the same time and then think about self publishing.

LL Cool Joe said...

Ha ha, the loo seat made me laugh. Sounds like you had so much fun and laughs, as well as sadness of course. I loved reading this and look forward to more!

Exile on Pain Street said...

What I wouldn't give for a photo of you girls in your midnight blue crepe dresses. I'd like to think that in today's day and age, she would've stayed behind to finish her training at the Slade. Am I mistaken about that?

What's the process when you write these? Are they heavily edited? All in one sitting? Do you already have Chapter 7 banged out and in the queue? Beautiful, as always.

Pat said...

Exile: the book has been in one form or another for about six years.
Chapter 7 is waiting to be worked on. \it is more like 4 or 5 sittings before posting.
I don't know if Maddie would have stayed at the Slade. Mum and Dad brought us up with a strong Protestant Work Ethic and I think she missed out on that. Or maybe it was just we had totally different personalities.

savannah said...

I've been keeping up on , but after the last few days, tis safer for me mentally to visit my blog friends and post at my place. i would so love to see pictures of the wedding! your words perfectly painted them for me, especially the loo seat, that i see them all! xoxoxo

Pat said...

Parsnip and Mage: so glad to have appreciative readers of your standing.

Pat said...

Joey: you make me laugh too so it is good if I can return the compliment.

Savannah: at present I seem to have lost the knack of posting pictures on my blog but have recently discovered how to post on FB. The vagaries of the dreaded Windows 10. Hopefully normal service will be restored ere long.

AndrewM said...

Good work as usual. Pictures...

Pat said...

Andrew M: thanks. The green glow is perfect except ours didn't have a

neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

"...ladies didn't venture out without hat, gloves and handbag..." This is what my mother says about 'long ago'!!

Aiy yai yai, how I laughed.

This post was deeeeelicious, Pat.