Now I know the answer is supposed to be “42” but that’s not quite where I am heading. We have a wedding coming up and the question posed was would I wear a lounge suit or a DJ. Well of course I shall wear the DJ or, as the trend seems to be to call them nowadays, a tuxedo. And that gives rise to the even bigger question: to tie or not to tie. Are you with me?
Can a gentleman really, honestly and with a clean conscience wear a pre-tied bow tie. Of course not. I am not in the habit of wearing a bow tie. Indeed I regard it as an affectation to be avoided at all costs. A bit like “never trust a man with a beard”, I always have a healthy mistrust for the day-to-day bow tie wearer. But when the occasion demands, a bow tie has to be donned and if you are going to wear one, why not go the whole hog and buy a real one? Most certainly not one that can be pinged on elastic. I shudder at the thought.
It makes my eyes glaze over when people argue it is “too difficult”. If you can tie your shoe laces you can tie a bow tie. I just googled “how to tie a bow tie” and it threw up 46,500,000 results. If you click on the video option the search returns over 51m. You should be able to crack it after one. Of course if you can’t tie your own shoe laces you could be in for a long learning process.
Yesterday we survived without hideous embarrassment the ritual exchange of family gifts. In Chinese culture this is a very sensitive custom, fraught with pitfalls. So concerned was Mrs. Ha to preserve the family honour she met with her opposite number over dinner to agree how to proceed without dropping a clanger or two. She then employed the services of an “expert” to prepare all the more basic traditional gifts, whilst she went out and bought the tricky things. For example the groom is entitled to a gift from his future mother-in-law of a pair of trousers, a belt and a wallet. We in return received, inter alia, a pair of coconuts. So I really can sing “I’ve got a luverly bunch of coconuts….”. There were of course lots of other things including three red envelopes containing cash. Everything had to be displayed and photographed to show the rellies and friends. It was rather fun to be honest but with apologies to daughter number 2, not something we wish to do again in a hurry. Very stressful making sure the gift baskets are spot on.
The final trauma for me is that I am required to make a speech. We went to 2 weddings in 3 weeks in 2011. Both were excellent. However at least one of the ‘father of the bride’ speeches was positively soporific. And I shall be the only gweilo present. So a ballroom full of Chinese speakers listening to a gweilo whose Cantonese runs, at a push, to “Stop the taxi, I want to get out. You are a complete maniac”. Not really the stuff successful wedding speeches are made of. I have to keep it going for ten minutes and I am not sure that includes subtitles or not. So I thought what I might do is take off my bow tie and give a demonstration of the art of bow tie tying. It won’t take ten minutes but it just might bridge the culture gap and reveal to the gathered throngs, what it is really important to the Welsh gentleman. If you have any better ideas for a successful wedding speech, please share asap. But only if you wearing a proper bow tie. Thank you.