And The Bride Wore Monkey

I finally learnt all of the words to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1993. This would have been the highlight of my year – had it not been for a crazy girl named Carrie asking me to be her friend. We hit it off immediately and during our years together at secondary school, developed a mutual understanding:

1. The back of the class was always the best place to hide.

2. Boys liked girls in short skirts, but thick black tights were imperative. (We were classy young ladies after all).

3. Carrie would pick me for her team in PE every week, so long as I pretended not to notice when she fell backwards off her chair in Maths class (for the third time that day).

Nineteen years on and now a fully fledged teacher – Carrie spends far more time at the front of the class than the back. She continues to fall backwards off chairs on an almost daily basis, but in line with the school dress code, her skirts are much longer than they used to be.

It was only ever a matter of time before a man fell head over heels in love with her. Having spent years fashioning faux veils out of toilet tissue, next month Carrie finally gets to wear the real thing, when she marries the love of her life James.

To mark her forthcoming nuptials, this weekend, I joined nineteen of Carrie’s closest friends for a nice quiet, tasteful and sophisticated hen do celebration, complete with willy straws, a large inflatable banana and a phallic shaped cake.

As a bit of a getting to know each other exercise, the party was split into two teams, each given ten minutes to make a demure wedding gown fit for a Queen. I know ten minutes doesn’t sound like very long, but there was no need to panic as we had all the materials we could possibly need: Half a dozen rolls of toilet paper, some white bin liners, masking tape and fifteen metres of tin foil. Having made a valiant contribution to this task, by crafting a crown and several long stemmed roses from foil, I am now considering a new career in costume design. I’m sure you’ll agree, they both look ravishing:

The only information the bride-to-be knew in advance of the hen do, was when it was taking place. Everything else was clouded in mystery. As a result, understandably it took several weeks for Carrie to organise suitable attire for the occasion. With hindsight, she need not have bothered – as an outfit had already been picked out on her behalf. One that she would wear throughout, whether she liked it or not. Yes, that’s right, the bride wore Monkey: 

Having downed several Strawberry Daiquiris and French Martinis, we played a game of Mr and Mrs, where Carrie tried (and failed) to convince us she dated James for two whole months before they first kissed and then went on to justify why she once put her hands down the pants of a complete stranger. 

At around two o’clock in the morning on the first night, Carrie leapt into her bed, without realising it was two twins shoved together – rather than a double. It takes style to wedge yourself between two beds. Style, poise, elegance and several strong cocktails. 

The weekend was surprisingly educational. We all learnt how to screw in light bulbs and throw chicken feed the following morning during Bollywood dancing lessons. 

I think we all aspired to choreograph a visual spectacle comparable to Slumdog Millionaire’s Jai Ho fame, but sadly, I let the team down. This photo sums it up pretty well. Yes, that’s right; I’m the one in the middle, getting it all wrong. 

Had it not been for the fact that I am unable to follow simple instructions, have no rhythm and can’t tell left from right, then I’m pretty sure we’d have had it in the bag.

We went for a group photo shoot in the evening – during which, Carrie was allowed a brief hiatus from the monkey suit. We’re kind like that. Then, adorned with tiaras, hen party badges and glow bracelets, we went into town for drinks. Whilst there, we bumped into some gents who looked strangely familiar – the entire cast of Super Mario: 

No, we have absolutely no idea what Batman was doing with them either. He obviously didn’t get the memo.

We went on to a brilliant comedy club, where one comedian performed an impromptu Haka and another made some very naughty jokes about willies and nookie. Loved every minute.

The club laid on a DJ in the evening and we all busted some moves to classic tunes with funky beats until the early hours of the morning, courtesy of Aerosmith, The Killers, 5ive, Steps, S-Club 7 and (believe it or not) the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. My funky chicken was of particular note.

We also bumped into our new friends Mario and Luigi et al. They nicked Carrie’s inflatable banana, so we took their mushroom. I don’t think anyone noticed; we were very discreet.

Several hours later, once most of the group had lost all feeling in their toes – we called it a night.  Everyone woke on Sunday morning feeling like they’d licked a cat. A thoroughly encouraging sign methinks that good fun was had by all.

Advertisements

When I Fall in Love

Now I do not wish to boast, but I have been blessed with an extraordinary ability to trip over my own feet. This is yet to deter me from dancing. 

I vividly remember my first school disco. It took place in the summer of 1991; I was eight years old and the pressure was on to look spectacular – so I decided against wearing my usual turquoise shell suit, psychedelic slap bracelet and scuffed plimsoles.

My chosen dress was floral, frilly and adorned with bows. It complemented my favourite Alice band beautifully. Jelly shoes were a must, as were cycling shorts, beneath said dress to prevent inadvertent knicker flashing.

I accessorised with a plethora of friendship bracelets, my beloved Mickey Mouse watch and a Minnie Mouse purse (in which I stored my cherry flavoured roll-on lip-gloss). For my hair – I opted for very high pigtails, tied with purple ribbon. If the elastic hadn’t snapped in one of my knee-high socks, then my overall look would have been flawless.

Uneven socks aside – the disco was fabulous! My two left feet and I danced the night afternoon away with friends and loved every minute! I drank orange squash with wild abandon and made the most of the complimentary nibbles. I also learnt a lot in those few short hours:

1. I was in desperate need of air guitar lessons.

2. “When the working day is done, girls just want to have fun”. (Cyndi Lauper)

3. “If you want to know if he loves you so, it’s in his kiss”. (Cher)

4. “I’m not gonna spend my life bein’ a colour”. (Michael Jackson)

I fell in love with music that day. Years on and my illicit affair with it continues.

When my husband Tony and I first started dating and I was getting ready to go out – I used to listen to music in my room. There was one song in particular that struck a chord – and I played it over and over again. It’s a bit old-school, but I simply adored the sentiment:

I didn’t mentioned this to Tony at the time, but four years later, after we got engaged (and I knew for certain that he felt the same way) I told him that I used to listen to a song called “When I Fall in Love”. He immediately burst into song. Just not the one I was referring to:

If you watch the video from 2:14 to 2:48 you’ll see the particular snippet of this musical masterpiece Tony serenaded me with.

I laughed until I cried. 

He’s definitely a keeper.

“Remember, as far as anyone knows, we’re a nice normal family”

1989 ROCKED

  • I was 7.
  • Kylie still loved Jason.
  • Alice bands, shell suits and scrunchies were in vogue.
  • I mastered handstands, cartwheels and cat’s cradle.
  • My troll collection quadrupled to an outrageously impressive: 4.
  • Wallace took Gromit on a grand day out and they ate lots of cheese.
  • A big wall fell down in Berlin and all the grown-ups got very excited.
  • My youngest brother Mike was born.

Admittedly, I didn’t necessarily greet the latter with the enthusiasm it deserved. I actually recall telling my parents in no uncertain terms to send him back.

My three other brothers failed to sympathise, as unlike me – they were delighted to have another man about the house.

After a year or two – I grew to love, adore and mother him.

Not just 2.4 children

There was a Simpsons’ poster on display in my father’s study for several years when I was growing up. It read –

“Remember, as far as anyone knows, we’re a nice normal family”.

I was never entirely sure what constituted ‘normal’ but I was pretty confident we weren’t it.

  • Oli was a nerd.
  • Chris sang. At all times.
  • I was the only girl and as such – terribly misunderstood.
  • Joe was into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, aliens and dinosaurs.
  • Mike liked whatever Joe liked.
  • Dad worked roughly 87 hours a week.
  • Mum was the glue that held us all together.

There were certain logistical advantages to being the only girl – I got my very own room for example. I also got a lot of sympathy from strangers. “Four brothers? You poor thing. They must pick on you an awful lot”. God no. I was a red belt in Tae Kwon-Do, they wouldn’t dare.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing however:

  • Oli’s bedroom was next to mine. He played Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’ on repeat at 140 decibels for about 3 years. I played Boyzone.
  • Chris decapitated my Tiny Tears doll. I punched him.
  • Joe shot me with Nerf bullets. A lot. I locked him in the garden shed.
  • Mike copied Joe. He also ended up in the shed.

Grown-ups (well, almost)

I’m pleased to report that Oli is still a nerd. A wildly successful one (they’re the best kind). As far as I know – he no longer listens to music that makes his ears bleed.

Chris no longer rips heads off dolls. He gets paid to buy stuff (genius I know) for the Royal Bank of Scotland.

I am still claiming to be misunderstood. On a positive note – I no longer have cause to punch my brothers or hold them captive.

Dad confiscated Joe’s Nerf gun on a Sunday afternoon in 1992, following an unfortunate incident with our neighbour’s pet goat. I don’t believe it was ever returned to him. He’s currently a Team Leader for Costa, loves playing host and is highly domesticated.

Mike no longer copies everything Joe does. He closely resembles a Wookiee and favours music that makes his ears bleed.

Families rule!

2011 in a (larger than average) Nutshell and Plannage for 2012

2011 Highlights  

  • Celebrated the New Year with my fiancé, friends, SingStar and a deranged Springer Spaniel.
  • Planned our wedding. Saved for it. Sold numerous worldly possessions (including semi-vital organs) to help pay for it. Talked a lot about it. Wouldn’t shut up about it. Narrowly avoided being stabbed with a biro by work colleagues for going on about it so much. Toned down the wedding talk (a teeny bit).
  • Lovingly hand-made 67 invitations for the wedding. Suffered roughly 3 billion paper cuts in the process. Wished I hadn’t committed to making my own invitations. Posted invitations. Received lots of praise regarding said invitations. Glad I made invitations. Felt warm and fuzzy inside.
  • Announcement at work: Redundancies likely. Oh dear.
  • Attempted to lose half my bodyweight in preparation for the wedding. Actually lost roughly 9½ pounds (not half my bodyweight).
  • Received evil death stares from my brothers for not shutting up about the bloody wedding.
  • Had an amazing Hen Doo to celebrate forthcoming nuptials, during which I captained my own ship, went ape and allowed fish to eat my feet for breakfast. Loved my girlfriends even more as a result. Returned from Hen Doo. Collapsed with exhaustion. Slept for a week.
  • Enjoyed sampling my fiancé’s practise wedding cakes. Worried that I would no longer fit in my dress.
  • Had a manicure with my mum. Collected the dress. Forgot the veil. Did not sleep.
  • Leapt out of bed at stupid o’clock in the morning. Had a fabulous time being beautified with my bridesmaids. Reunited with my beloved veil – courtesy of one legendary best man. Wedged into my dress by bridesmaids.
  • Fashionably late (by almost an hour) I skipped up the aisle and married the love of my life.
  • Posed for photos. Got my leg out and embarrassed my new in-laws as a result.
  • Posed for more photos, without my leg out.
  • Managed to eat almost 2 whole spoonfuls of our 3 course wedding breakfast, due to corseted dress squishing my entire digestive tract into 4 square millimetres. Laughed at the speeches. Cut the cake. Ate cake.
  • Did an impromptu speech. Danced with hubby. (Got the distinct feeling we were being watched).
  • Friends and family joined in and there was a Take That dance-off.
  • Honeymooned in Cyprus. Sweated more than I thought was medically possible. Cooled off in the sea. Ate prawns the size of my head (and I have an abnormally large head). Loved every minute.
  • Returned to work. Did not love every minute.
  • Husband was made redundant from work.
  • Watched The Lion King in the West End as a birthday treat. Sang the first line from the “Circle of Lifeout loud repeatedly for 2 weeks. Really must learn the next line.
  • I got placed at risk of redundancy from work. Had a proper grown-up conversation with my brother about career options.
  • Husband found a new job.
  • Husband surprised me with a beautiful pine tree two weeks before Christmas. It died within an hour. Have spent most of the festive period extracting pine needles from my right eye.
  • Put milk and cookies out for Santa. ­W­as dutifully rewarded with magnificent gifts, so wrote a charming letter of thanks to him, like a good little girl.
  • Started my blog. Asked friends and family nicely to read my blog. Thanked those who did. Bugged those who didn’t.

2012 Plannage                       

  • Live, love, laugh and eat Jaffa Cakes.
  • Continue blogging.
  • Shamelessly plug said blog at any given opportunity.
  • Annoy people less and therefore avoid getting stabbed with a biro.