One of the disadvantages of living separately from my daughter is that it is all too easy to get out of touch with term times – as I discovered this week when my daughter messaged me during the day. I asked what she was doing online and she was quick to reassure me that she wasn’t bunking off (the thought of which hadn’t even occurred to me – I’d thought she might be ill).
What she was hoping for though, was that I was free to log in to EVE and continue building our virtual corporation in the game with some resource mining while she finished her homework and I completed some odds and ends of paperwork.
One of the things I love about this MMO is that you can, by and large, choose to have the game be as intense or slow-burn as you are comfortable with or have the time to invest. With the client software rendering in a window, rather than opened as a whole-screen presentation, it means that low-impact activities at a gentle pace, like the mining shown in the screenshot here, can take place without impacting over-much on anything else I might be doing at the time, like cooking, writing, making applications or submitting tenders. There’s the added bonus of course that I’m able to teach my daughter some of the ins and outs of the game, see her reactions when some intricate game mechanism suddenly clicks with her – and generally spend time with her, even when we’re apart.
Warning – there is likely to be some mushy stuff here, so if this offends or irritates – well there’s a big old inter-webs out there to go search for whatever combination of philosoraptors, porn or dysfunctional mocking floats your boat (seriously, I need to trim my various feeds to cut back on the number of photoshopped sarcasm posts hitting my inbox and facebook feeds)
Its Valentine’s Day – and its now only a little over two weeks to my wedding. T’other half had already decreed that I shouldn’t do anything for the day as I’d already done so much and was already giving her a wedding in a castle, but of course I recognised this as the trap that such pronouncements are (despite her strenuous objections) and have arranged for flowers to be delivered to her at work where she has been doing a sterling job of convincing people that she’s a hard-hearted slave-driver who isn’t really all that fussed about the upcoming nuptials – unless you count the excited daily countdowns and wide grins.
There are days where I do wonder what she sees in me, and similarly where she needs reassurance as to why I’m with her. Such reasons can vary from day to day and mood to mood, but some common themes recur and today of all days I think they bear repeating in public: I love Jo and am marrying her for her wit, her humour, her beauty, her stubbornness and outspoken bluntness. I love her simultaneous sensuousness and naivety in the face of innuendo; her geekiness and the cunningly disguised girliness that manifests in hiding this morning’s flowers in the car so that she wouldn’t start crying at her desk. Without her support I wouldn’t be as happy and relaxed and self-confident as I even pretend to be, and at the same time I deeply appreciate that we can both sit and play on laptops or consoles or read alongside each other without a need to be in each other’s pockets. Loving her, and being with her is easy – even with her knowing all my peculiarities, oddities, quirks and bloodymindedness – possibly even because she knows and accepts my many flaws.
Right – back to prepping for supper and a quiet evening in. In the meantime, I leave you with a short video prepared by a couple of the dark figures waiting to ambush me on the celebration that will be both my stag night and my fortieth birthday…
Well, we’re getting into tying up loose ends now. This last week or so has seen the chasing of Registrars to see that they were okay with the chosen readings and music. I suppose I should explain: here in the UK, if you are having a civil ceremony, you are not permitted to choose religious music or readings of any stripe or denomination. Personally I think this is a bit of a shame as some of the most amazingly uplifting and poetic language can be found in religious texts and in music and song inspired from the same sources – in particular when you start to look at classical music or arrangements for church organs (and that’s just in the Christian tradition). Whether you profess faith in any higher power, are agnostic or are of firm rationalistic conviction, it doesn’t subtract from the beauty of those pieces. I can however, understand the rationale behind deciding that a non-religious ceremony should have no religious decoration. I just don’t agree with it.
Having chosen our two readings and decided on our musical accompaniment, we bundled them off to the Registrars and to the venue for vetting and duly got a thumbs up from the venue and deathly silence from the Registrars.
(A note here for US readers: Here in the UK you don’t apply for a license in advance of your wedding ceremony. You have to have a Registrar present at the ceremony for the signing of the legal documentation. Parish priests are also Registrars, and have to submit the Parish Registry as a regular return, which is why (at least in the Church of England), you don’t have a collection of officials there hovering at the side of the priest while the paperwork gets done.)
With the cutoff date for letting the Registrars know about these details therefore, a small degree of trepidation was felt (at least by t’other half) that we hadn’t heard anything – so in the end I did some chasing and – after some confusions with wrong numbers and callbacks – had a confirmation from them that all was well. They just had a policy of only contacting people if something was wrong or objectionable – and seemed somewhat surprised that this might cause concern.
On a more entertaining note, my daughter and niece had their final-final-final fittings for their bridesmaid dresses and they are looking gorgeous. The simple elegance of the design and the bold, rather than brassy, colours mean that they are going to make quite an entrance on the day.
Seeing the pair of them positively glow and come out of their shells has been wonderful for all of us as parents as this is the first time they’ve done anything like this and there was, to be fair, a certain degree of trepidation about whether they would be comfortable in a strapless dress. Finding a design that flattered without putting anything on display (these are, after all, twelve year old girls) was absolutely essential; I can only applaud Jo for her choice here as I have to admit that before seeing the dresses I was extremely cautious. I’m chalking that up to being a protective dad and wanting to be sure that neither of the girls were put in a position that they weren’t comfortable with. I know that my brother and his wife were also a little unsure until they saw them too – and when we saw them side by side it was definitely one of those shared ‘my daughter is growing up’ moments.
Oh, and in the same trip, the bride’s dress needed some work doing on its beading, which necessitated it being taken in to the Bridal shop in its bag – and my being banished to the warm embrace of Waterstones to browse and lose myself in the printed word.
Watching Jo wander through the crowded Saturday shoppers, knocking aside anyone who got near with the sheer planetary mass of The Dress was a joy to watch. Listening to the grumbles under her breath as she bore down on clusters of hapless pedestrians like a valkyrie locked on to a fallen hero was a lesson in restrained invective that left a trail of devastation swirling in her wake…
I’m not quite sure what the good folk of Staines made of it all, but it was certainly fun to watch the crowds part in the street market, and the occasional double-take from women suddenly clocking what it was that was being rushed through, raising smiles that I suspect went entirely unnoticed by the bride-to-be
I have this vague feeling that with there being only four weeks to go until my second marriage I should by all rights be feeling some degree of trepidation, concern, fear of loss of independence, worry about logistics or just dumb existential terror of an upcoming life change.
Unfortunately for you all, I can’t report with any honesty that I have felt any of the above aside from a couple of moments of irritation when some portion of planning the event has proved more tiresome than anticipated.
My first marriage ended. Its sad; there was good and bad but despite the pain and recriminations on both sides at the time we’ve both come out the other side of it all happier, more content, and even more importantly with an amazing daughter who seems far more self assured and confident than seems entirely natural. I’m more than passingly aware of how lucky I am to be in this situation, and I don’t mourn the past by any means.
In its place I have an amazing relationship and a life that bemuses and challenges with each twist and turn and that is above all…fun.
As for the wedding – well we’ve been working on it for about two years, and so spread all the costs out so there’s no sense of pain over the money,
and the people who we’ve hired to provide the various bits and pieces we need are all being very professional and effective, so my expectations are high that its going to be a hell of a party. Its also allowed me to exercise my creative side somewhat in places – with a homemade wedding book that I’ve embellished with bits of parchment and provided gold, silver, white and other sparkly gel-coloured ink pens to encourage people to take a page each and make it their own. We’ll see how inspired people can get with that. I’m hoping people will draw, doodle, write, sketch, compose and otherwise be the creative souls I know they are or at least want to be. And I’ll be sending the younger bridesmaids round with it to chivvy people into playing along. People refusing will likely be mocked…
So no worries about that – a positive embracing of the “life changing moment” that is fast approaching, a real sense of celebration and silliness and confirmation that things are as they are meant to be.
This bubbled up this morning while I was emailing photography schedules to people and re-editing photos of paperweights:
All lined up and ready to go. Suits pressed and shirts ironed; cravats are adjusted and button-holes straightened. The photographer is lurking, taking unofficial snaps to complement the previously agreed formal shots that will punctuate the day for the next ten hours or so.
Seats are filled, low murmurs of comment and observation – of greeting and admonishment. The Groom waits, fidgeting despite his best intentions. Like any social being, he finds a special unspoken terror in being on display as a solitary entity. Even so, he consoles himself, the Bride will have it worse even in her moment of glory.
The Best Man approaches and talks quietly. The Groom’s shoulders relax. The Registrar enters the room and takes her place. Music swells from discrete speakers, swirling and calling for attention. It’s time.