Whilst Britain was putting on the style over last weekend, I found myself unusually dressed up too. These days, enjoying the luxury of being my own boss, I don’t need to wear suits, ties, or even clothes if I don’t want to. I’m sometimes in danger of turning into a slob, don’t say it, I know. Last Saturday, when all the Diamond Jubilee celebrations were kicking off, I was all poshed up and heading for my eldest nephew’s wedding in rural mid-Sussex. I had been asked to write a poem for the occasion which I had to deliver in the church, standing next to the vicar and following on from the Bible readings. I had warned the vicar, a nice man called Jeremy, that he might find my piece blasphemous but he just shrugged and smiled. You have to admire the Church of England.
Well I delivered the poem (‘Love is maybe…”) and escaped the clergy’s wrath. In fact writing about love’s origins in science and evolution balanced the vicar’s sermon nicely. He did the God bit. My nephew is also my godson so the event was multi-layered in meaning. His new wife, my goddaughter-in-law, is a nurse so the science was designed for her ears especially even if there were a few confused expressions in the congregation. In the end, of course, I think it was a romantic poem – however love is born, it is “the sweetest thing” and I wish the newly-weds all possible happiness along with everyone else who feels the power of love.
The wedding was also, primally, a family affair. This was the first big family occasion since my elder brother’s funeral last November. We all felt that he was there for his eldest son’s wedding and it didn’t so much dampen our spirits as spur us on to celebrate life and find ourselves in all its profoundest rituals. The Diamond Jubilee celebrations also saw a family poshed up in church and, I suspect, celebrating over a few drinks when the ceremonials were over. The nation, mostly, surprized itself in its affection for that quirky royal family touched, for good or for ill, by its power to define our nation and I, no great lover of weddings or royalty, felt a similar identity recognition at my own family’s latest ritual.
We, like the royals, might be a funny lot, with some interesting stories to tell, but on that wedding day last Saturday, like it or not, we were as one wishing the new generations on and quietly hoping that the zaniest side of the “family personality” might live on beyond us as it has done with my late brother Graham and the generations that preceded us.