There is a Cockney tradition of Pearly Kings and Queens. You can look it up through a search engine or on-line ‘pedia of your choice. My granny used to tell me all about them when I was small.
Well, on 1 October 2013 Sigoth and I will be a Pearly King and Queen, albeit not of a Cockney variety, and we will be in Copenhagen, not London, for we are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary by spending a few days in the land of top-notch knitwear and construction toys.
Hopefully if I have sorted out the scheduler you will be able to wish us “skål!” on the day itself (subject to the rotation of the earth and your own regularity with WordPress reader or whatever you use). To which we reply “thanks, my dears, and cheers to you too!”.
I met Sigoth at university in Freshers’ Week. I thought he was rather sweet and we used to cross paths every Wednesday evening as we both dashed out of the labs where we were doing practicals to rush for the bus back to Hall. Different labs, different Hall, but same general timing and direction, and friends in common.
Then there came the inevitable Christmas party, the day John Lennon was shot, and so we became an item. Cautiously at first, then more confidently, we grew into each other’s ways and have never yet grown out of them.
We got engaged on the night of one of the university Balls, in February 1982. We only told one friend in advance, confident she would have the news around the rest of the university before we had had our first dance. Imagine our horror next day when we wandered into the bar to meet up with the usual suspects for lunch and no one knew a thing! For the only time in her life she had decided it was a secret and told no one, so we had to broach the news ourselves, with great embarrassment.
The wedding was a home-made affair. The night before the great event my friends came over and we made sandwiches. Another friend made the cake for us, having practised the icing pattern on her mother’s Christmas cake, and it was beautiful. My mother’s friend, Aunty Sheila, did the flowers having taken a flower-arranging course.
On the day itself it was cool and a bit wet. I left the house in my best friend’s father’s car, with my Dad, windscreen wipers going, and worrying about the dress. It was my mother’s wedding dress, which we had cleaned and spruced up, and it looked fine although something happened to the hem in the cleaning process so it was a bit crooked. No one cared.
The rain stopped by the time we arrived at the meeting house, and during the meeting for worship a blackbird sang its heart out in the garden. As Quaker weddings were quite unusual we had a lot of Friends join us, almost all of whom we had never met, but they filled out the room and contributed their worshipful silence.
The wedding vow for Quakers in Britain is a simple one:
Friends, I take this my friend Sigoth to be my husband, promising through divine assistance to be unto him a loving and faithful wife so long as we both on earth shall live.
Sigoth said the same thing, with appropriate amendments for name and relationship. After that we signed stuff and had cake and drank juice and took photos. In a Quaker wedding all those present sign a certificate, which contains the time/date/place and promises we make to each other, and may be either a poster sized document or a booklet (ours was the poster version, and is framed in the hallway). Then Sigoth and I went away to Germany while everyone else went to the pub.
We were young and a little insane. We had no money or jobs – it was 1983, so no one had jobs – but we decided to start a family straight away. Offspring #1 arrived 6 weeks before our first wedding anniversary.
The bare bones are not so interesting really. What makes it special is that my stomach still gives a lurch when I see Sigoth. My heart still beats a little faster while he sleeps beside me, and I feel the warmth of his breath and the beat of his heart. Every day he is there for me and will be so long as both on earth shall live.
I wish you happiness and joy in your relationships, whatever shape or form they take.