I found out later that it was quite a historic room, with all its mouldings and recherché cornicing. Back in the 1910s, when equality for women was all the rage, Sylvia Pankhurst held suffragette meetings there. I didn’t know this at the time, though.
W and P looked each other in the eyes, and kissed, and the congregation burst out into a long, long round of applause, so much so that the registrar was almost bowled away with the emotion. So much so, she started playing the Citizenship Ceremony tape instead of the Wedding Ceremony one, and the room was suddenly filled with the National Anthem.
I did write about W and P’s wedding at the time; but looking back ten months later, this is what sticks in my mind.
I always enjoy W’s parties, even the ones I can’t remember afterwards.* And, because it was their wedding, this one seemed extra-special.
I’d been given the job of semi-official photographer, so I tried to stay more or less sober. It also gave me an excuse to constantly rush around the building shoving my camera into people’s faces. I would probably have done this regardless, but it was nice to have an excuse for it.
Eventually, people started dancing, so there was nothing for it but to put the camera down and bounce around like a mad thing. I don’t think I did anyone any serious injuries, but equally I’m not going to be winning any dancing prizes in the near future. Then, when I was exhausted, I’d flop down on the sofa for five minutes before picking up the camera again and repeating the cycle. If I saw someone posing for someone else’s camera, I’d try to quickly grab a sneaky shot from the side. Hopefully all the other party guests think they look good in profile. The main room was lit by beautiful blue fairy lights: it looked wonderful, but it was so dark that half the time I had no idea what I was photographing.**
I was still emotional by the end of the evening. I hugged W before I left, and wanted to tell him: have a wonderful life together. W and P make an amazing couple, and everyone who knows them wants them to be happy forever after.
If you want to see the rest of the wedding photos – not that they will be of much interest unless you know P and W yourself, of course – most of them are here.
* such as the one where I got so drunk I collapsed in a flowerbed. There are quite a lot of people in London who have no clue what my name is, but if you say “you know, the one who collapsed in the flowerbed at W’s party” will know exactly who you mean.
** One technical photo tip: I was lucky that the house has very light, almost-white walls and ceilings throughout. This means that – if you have a swivel-head flashgun with good automatic metering – you can point your flash directly up at the ceiling to get nice, even, flattering lighting. It does mean, though, that the photo lighting is nothing like the original scene. This photo was taken in a room barely light enough to not walk into other people, and all the light comes from the flashgun attached to the camera.
I had no idea what to expect at the wedding. I’ve, unsurprisingly, never been to a Civil Partnership Ceremony before; but equally, I’ve never been to any sort of civil wedding before.
The wedding started late, and the registrar seemed a little stressed. “Sorry for the delay,” she said, “but the couple at the previous wedding weren’t sure it was going ahead.” You could sense a long, long backstory behind that sentence.
The ceremony was short. W and P strode up the aisle together, and the registrar explained what they were getting into. They faced each other, and looked into each other’s eyes as they gave their declarations and vows. My eyes were slightly damp, and they received a long, long round of applause, which seemed to surprise the registrar. “You are a popular couple,” she said. And, bar the posing for photos, it was already over. W and P are Registered Partners. We all rolled out into the garden for champagne.
Well, I’m back at the office again, pleased to see that WordPress‘s advance-publishing feature works as advertised, to get Saturday’s post up whilst I was still waking up in my hotel bed in Barking.
I had a wonderful weekend away, got a bit emotional at W and P’s wedding, and danced very enthusiastically at their wedding party. I’ll be posting more about it in the next few days, partly because I’m going away again next week, and “what I did on my holidays” will be easy to get written in advance. So, coming soon on this blog: flirting by chocolate, failed blogstalking, sugarcube art (with hide and seek), a stressed registrar, adventures on the District Line, posing for photos, fairy lights, laughter, and lashings and lashings of
ginger beer champagne.
Photos will be coming too, once I get my rolls and rolls of film back from the chemists, and get them all scanned. I’m old-fashioned, me.
Just another brief snippets post. Tonight I’m busily packing, because tomorrow I’m zooming off to London. Hurrah!
One thing that’s been on my mind recently: when the government came up with Civil Partnerships, did they deliberately invent as cumbersome a term as they could, so that people would end up calling it marriage? Consider these two statements:
“My friends W and P are holding a civil partnership registration ceremony.”
“My friends W and P are getting married.”
Now, which of those are people actually going to say?
I’m only in London for the weekend, sadly. I will be spending most of the weekend trying to find the register office on Bow Road, because my friends W and P are getting married there.* Most of what I know about Bow Road, I learned here.
(someone should probably explain to me some time that London is more than just its railway system. In fact, there are entire areas of London with no trains. That’s what the rumours say, anyway. I don’t think there’s any way to actually get to those places.)
Someone recently reached this site by searching for “shimura curves mailing list”. I don’t know much about pure maths, but I asked someone from the band Shimura Curves, and they do indeed have one.**
To close, a sign which has been hanging around our redecorated offices lately. It made me smile:
Please be careful
Touching up drives me CRAZY.
I have to admit, I often feel the same way too. Have a nice weekend yourselves.
* Except that they’re not. Because they’re registering a civil partnership. But you knew that.
** Update, August 24th 2020: I am presuming this mailing list no longer exists, as it was hosted on Yahoo Groups.
Unlike the first half of the year, there is one big stand-out memory from the second half of 2005. The start of my second business trip to London. Getting off the train at Kings Cross and walking down Platform 4 trying not to start crying. I was worried because someone I knew – even though I’d not seen her for a few years – had, like many other people, been missing for three days. She’d last been seen at Kings Cross, changing trains. I held myself together until my taxi was driving away from the station, onto Euston Road. As we passed the ambulance standing at the station entrance, waiting to take another run to the mortuary, I burst into tears. This was on Sunday, July 10th. Half an hour later, a Lancaster bomber flew noisily over my hotel-room window.
There are a few more significant memories from the past six months. I’m not sure if more really has happened compared to the start of the year, or if it’s just more memorable because it’s more recent. In August, I visited London again, to see W and his boyfriend, go to a party at their house, and take lots of pictures. At the party, I met the month-old daughter of my friends John and Jen, at that point just named “Piglet”. She’s since been given a proper name, Jaime, after another old friend who was at the same party.
Coming back home, I started up this website – in fact, I thought up the name whilst changing trains* on the way home. After that, nothing very striking has happened – but I’ve made new friends, and got back in touch with some old ones. Another friend was suddenly lost, but more are always being born. Last year ended with Jen announcing she was pregnant; this year ended with W and his boyfriend announcing their engagement. The cycle of the newspaper announcements column marches on.
* Changing between delayed trains, of course.