The meaning of life.

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.

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9 thoughts on “The meaning of life.

  1. Over, under, around and through…at least that’s how we do a windsor. Something about a fox and hounds I think.
    I am pretty sure bowties were devised to take some of the meaning out of life as in what can life possibly mean if bowties are required.

  2. Great post Andrew and I think your idea for the speech is simply fantastic. Goodness me, it all sounds like a lot of hard work all those wedding baskets, and envelopes. Fraught with pitfalls? I should cocoa.

    I’m afraid that Irishman simply wouldnt pass muster – you see he has a bow tie, not, I hasten on an elastic..good heavens no. No, he has a bow tie which looks to the untrained observer just like a real bow tie except you pop it over your head and then neatly pull the ties round and clip the clips together handliy tucked in under your collar. Neat design and saves hours of cursing, f’ing and blinding.

    He bought a couple of these in tasteful batik a few months ago and wears them on ‘Batik Friday’ which as you may or may not know is a bit like dress down Friday in the west except your expected to sport a batik shirt. We’ve yet to find a really natty funky batik shirt that fits the bill so he’s got round this problem by wearing a non-elastic (albeit faux) batik bow tie. Clever eh?!

    P.s You’ve probably seen the photos that I put up on facebook yesterday of the house? The offer still stands for you guys to use it. We don’t want a penny for it, it’s our gift to you. Pete says you are very welcome so don’t be backwards in coming forwards if you want to treat Mrs Ha to a week here. 😀

  3. I think Pete should go one further, Lottie and buy the new improved batik water-squirting bow tie. It would liven up lectures no end on dress down Friday. The cursing, effing and blinding is all part of the fun. Providing its not part of the wedding speech.

  4. Oh my goodness. You Brits have me “falling out with laughter.” I cried reading your post and Lottie’s. I can not take too much merriment. Bad for the heart you know. 🙂 I am still giggling to myself as I type. I can imagine you surrounded by the guests. If I were you I’d be quaking in my shoes just thinking about the matter. Surely you exaggerate that you only speak a bit of Cantonese? sp? A ten monute speech. Gee, can it not be a tad shorter, as in five minutes?

    Anyhow, I’m back again. I think. And I sure have had a good time reading posts. This one is a doosey or is it doosie? 🙂

    • Yvonne, I am so happy you are back amongst us. We have missed you, truly we have.

      Ten minutes includes, I now learn, the translation. Public speaking doesn’t bother me. It used to but I got used to. Its even safer when nobody has a clue what you are talking about. The only major risk is that the translator may say something completely different and embarrassing. I hope so anyway!

      Doosy, doosie, who cares? You are back!

      • Thank you Andrew for your kind words. I never thought about a translator. But you are right that the translation might not have the same meaning as some of your words.

        I’ve read of horror stories of translation whjere some of the words were totally off the mark.

        Can you practice with the same translator who will be, I hope, the same one for the wedding?

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