Thank you for the many good wishes on our day of happiness. We were dreading the weather based on the 24 hour forecast. On Friday we went out and bought 22 umbrellas, just in case. If anybody wants a job lot we can do you very favourable terms. White with transparent tops. Mrs. Ha apparently woke at 4.30am and I rose an hour later. By 6.30 the first batch of bridesmaids, make-up artists and photographers had arrived and were getting down to work. I drove into town to pick up a couple of dozen breakfasts we had ordered. I had already been on the roof and taken some photos of the dawn, which was simply glorious.
The bridesmaids were all ready by about 8.30am and shortly afterwards the groom arrived with his entourage to negotiate entry to the house. Protracted to-ing and fro-ing ensued before the lai see or red packets of money were handed over to the bridesmaids and the men entered. The bride remained upstairs out of sight in her kwa, waiting for the chaps to finish the tests set for them by the chapesses. The final one was to knock back in one a tot of hot chilli sauce and something or other. Some grim faces resulted but then the groom was allowed to go to the foot of the stairs to proclaim his love for the bride. To raucous cheers Mrs. Ha and I escorted the bride down to meet the groom. They then served us tea in a traditional ceremony and we handed over gifts to them. Good wishes and traditional blessings were given and then they left us to visit the groom’s parents.
One more shot of the blushing (?) bride.
Most of our road was blocked by the wedding cars but the neighbours were fine and one or two gave a congratulatory wave as the bride and groom walked up to the front car. By this stage I had packed my camera away and was only equipped with my iPhone. As they were in the car the official photographer asked for a few frames before they were driven away. This was my sneak shot through the car window.And that is it for photographs. The happy couple arrived at the groom’s house to fireworks and probably bunting. The ceremonies were repeated and then the ancestor worship. The next time all the parties would come together would be for the ceremony itself.
At 3.30pm we finally had time for some lunch. Guests were struggling with traffic so we had a 15 minute delay in starting the wedding. It was a very short ceremony but despite this there were quite a few tears running down cheeks. The bride threw her bouquet and the champagne was uncorked. I took one tiny sip, my first alcohol in almost 7 years.
I won’t bore you with the rest of the day’s events. They went on a long time. Some of the lowlights were the groom going on stage with his guitar to serenade the bride. This is a modern tradition, that the groom sings for his supper. I took him to one side later and confided that I thought a recording contract might be a step too far. Next was my speech. I was preceded by the groom’s father. No script. He was clearly a man who should have gone on the stage for a living as a stand up comic. About 20 minutes of humour, most of it as far as I could tell about his local soccer team, which he manages. He brought the house down. Of course I was getting everything through a translator and when I stood up that was the problem. 95% of the audience had no idea what I was saying. I did have a lovely assistant in the form of one of the bridesmaids and she translated as we went. I stumped her a little by going off script and talking about Hereford United, my home town football team. One of the groom’s relatives came up to me later and asked if I had really lived in Hereford. I confirmed that I had and he said, oh then we are neighbours. I live in Ross-on-Wye. Do you know John Harvey-Jones? And so we are now busom pals from way back when. Poor old Sir JHJ has been dead a while but used to chair ICI and was a celebrity businessman in later life. What a small world. I think I got a loud round of applause for finishing rather than anything else. Or maybe it was laughter at my conclusion, as I tried a blessing in Cantonese. My only consolation was that I had a proper bow tie and not an elastic one. I resisted the temptation to ping the groom’s father’s bow tie. It was close though. We British know how to dress. We may be useless at virtually everything else but we still maintain standards. Proper bow tie, proper shirt studs, no frills on the dress shirt – Engelbert Humperdinck I am not. This was not Vegas.
For Mrs. Ha the best bit was probably the bride’s speech at the banquet, a tearful and loving tribute to her mum. For me the best bit was that I actually didn’t have to pay the bill when it was all over. We had booked our car for 11pm but didn’t leave until after midnight. At 1am we were home, exhausted, to be greeted by an indignant Lulu, demanding to know why she had not been invited, had had no wedding cake and no champagne. I gave her some treats instead and she gave me some poo. Such a caring dog.
Today the bride and groom will visit us as tradition requires. We still have the mess from Saturday they can clear up whilst they are here. Then they leave for Bali. I have no idea where they are staying or for how long. And so will end the wedding of the first of the two cost centres. One down, one to go. Me, I need more sleep. Wake me on Wednesday someone, please.