THE BIG DAY (part 1)

Written By: anonymous - Jul• 16•12

It’s three days to the wedding of the year.  After a frantic scramble to get her work done, Liz is, finally, ready for her gift presentation.

“Oh, I’m so overwhelmed!” she chokes. “Everyone has been so lovely. Thank you so much for all your generous comments and presents. I had no idea you were all such soppy old romantics at heart!”

Frankly, neither did we. The response has been surprising to say the least; The Boss gave twenty quid, Clive and Miranda a tenner and, even miserable Malcolm donated (an unprecedented) five pounds.  This is quite amazing, I once had a card passed to me which had been to him, Tarquin and Simon; there was 50p in side. Even more astonishingly, he has signed it with an effusive “best wishes”.

“I always knew that Liz was his favourite,” Jane laughs, “He would never do that for me.”

“I don’t know,” I tell her, “The partners might be queuing up to see you married off.”

She smirks, “I might be tempted. If it meant three weeks off work and £200 worth of John Lewis vouchers.”

“You would have to find a willing husband first,” Alex points out.

“He doesn’t have to be ‘willing’!” she laughs. “Just so long as he’s able. That’s always been my motto so far as boyfriends are concerned.”

Which might explain why she never seems to have any.

Meanwhile, the most welcome effect of the wedding is that the office has taken on an almost carnival atmosphere. Liz and Dan have made the generous (or foolish?) decision to invite (almost) everyone in the team. Me, Jane, Alex, The Boss and the partners are all attending the whole thing with the rest coming along to the evening do.  We have, of course, told Liz not to sit us anywhere near our colleagues.

“I can’t believe it’s really happening,” she tells us, as she gathers up her things.

“Frankly, neither can we,” Jane agrees. “You could have any man in the world and you choose him. But it’s not too late to pull out, you know.”

“Jane!” thinking she is joking she punches her on the arm. “I’m so glad you’re all going to be there. I feel like you helped to bring us together.”

That is partially true. Jane was so consistently rude to Dan that Liz felt compelled to defend him.

And, to be honest, since we never leave the building, the competition was limited. He was the only man without a personality disorder and still in possession of his own hair. It was inevitable that someone would fall for him. Then, one evening, after a heavy day of bundle preparation, they fell in love across the late night photocopier…..

“Please don’t put us on a table with the partners,” Alex urges her.

“I’ll try not to,” she agrees, “But I’m not sure I want to inflict them on my friends or relatives either.”

“Then seat them on their own, at the back, as far away from the rest of the guests as possible!”

Smiling to herself, she gathers up her presents and her cards; and heads off to be buffed and bronzed and beautified.

And, before we know it, the big day is upon us.  I have arranged to meet Jane and Alex in a pub near the Church. When I arrive there is a mysterious woman in seated by the window; red dress, red hat, red shoes. I have to look twice: it is Jane!

“Bloody hell!” I exclaim. “What’s happened to you?”

“What are you talking about,” she snaps.

“I have never seen you wearing anything but funereal black before.”

She gives me a cool, sidelong glance. “Even I couldn’t wear black to a wedding.”

“But red! Talk about one extreme to the other.”

“I felt like a change,” she sniffs. “And, besides, red is intense and uncompromising. It reflects my passionate side.  I may wear it more often.”

For the record: I am in pale blue and I’m not sure what that says about me. Alex saves me from having to think about it. He is wearing a grey linen suit, with a matching grey and cream striped tie.

“Foolish choice,” Jane shakes her head. “You’ll be crumpled and damp all day in that gear.”

“I don’t care,” he tells her, “At least I don’t have the same hat as Miranda.”

Her eyes narrow. “What are you talking about?”

“She’s outside, with The Boss, and she has exactly the same hat as you!” He laughs heartily. “You could be sisters!”

More laughter.

“Wait there,” Jane scowls.

She disappears to the Ladies and returns a few minutes later: the hat transformed with the addition of one giant black silk rose.  “This will do.”

“Where did you get that?” I ask as she bundles us out through the doors.

“Flower arrangement, in the toilets,” she whispers.


“Oh, they’ll never notice it’s gone!”

She marches us towards the church where the rest of the guests are gathering. Sure enough Miranda is there in matching hat, teamed with an interesting (and, of course, cleavage enhancing) black and scarlet spotted creation.  The Boss, rather grandly, has his full morning suit on.  Clive and Malcolm are behind in navy, with their wives (mousy women in florals) and Barry has his internet bride in toe.

“Where’s Mrs Boss?” Alex whispers.

We look around, she is nowhere in sight.

“And what about Miranda’s rich banker friends?”

None of them seems to be here either. Using the element of surprise Jane stalks The Boss until he is on his own. Then she makes her move to find out. “Hello Alistair.”

His face clouds over for a second before he realises that he is, indeed, speaking to Jane.

“Oh!” he laughs. “I didn’t recognise you in colour!”

She smiles tightly. “Monochrome is just for week days; it reflects my attitude to work. Is your wife here?”

He glances, suspiciously at her. “No, she’s not, I’m afraid. She isn’t very well.”

“Oh, that’s a shame,” she observes. “We were all looking forward to meeting her.”

“Yes?” he smirks. “Then perhaps the prospect of meeting you lot contributed to her illness.”

More likely the prospect of meeting Miranda.  As if reading my mind, she appears at The Boss’s shoulder to and usher us all into the Church.

“Are you sure you won’t ignite?” Alex asks Jane as she steps over the threshold.

“We have moved on a lot since then,” she smirks. “We can even tolerate crucifixes now.”

“Bride or Groom.” A grinning usher stands before us with orders of service.

“Both,” Jane tells him. “But we’ll sit on the bride’s side; she needs our support.”

We sit on one side of the church and the partners sit on the other. “To even things up,” Malcolm tells us later.

Dan is standing at the front, looking as calm and debonair as usual. He gives us a cheery wave.

Jane snorts, audibly. “He looks more like Hugh Grant than Hugh Grant in that get up.”

And, to be honest, he does. And his family are equally well turned out. Jane takes a critical swipe at his mother’s hat but generally agrees that they look pretty normal.

“No horrible genetic surprises lurking in there,” she nods.

The same cannot be said for Liz’s side, which is (as she warned us) an assortment of ‘Crazies, hippies and oddballs.”  Her cousin (who was on the hen do) is wearing a cowboy hat. Her gran is asleep and her mother looks like she’s about to have a nervous breakdown.

“So glad you could come,” she whispers, “Unfortunately, Elizabeth is running a little behind schedule.”

“No change there then!” Alex laughs.

She smiles, nervously. “She had a few problems at the hairdresser’s but they managed to get them under control in the end.”

I can well imagine Liz’s wild auburn locks resisting all attempts to tame them.

A few minutes pass; still there is no sign of the bride. The vicar tells the organist to play another round of the Choral Symphony.  Jane flicks through the programme and moans about the hymns.

“I don’t do singing,” she sniffs.

“You sang carols at that Christmas carol concert,” Alex points out.

“I did not sing. I mimed. And then I was asked to collect the donations. You can sing all you like; I shall not be joining in; especially not with All Things Bright and Beautiful.”

Because, in Jane’s world, all things are dark and unpleasant.

Another ten minutes pass. She is now forty minutes late and even Dan is beginning to look concerned. He runs a worried hand through his perfect hair.

“Perhaps she’s changed her mind,” Jane whispers (a little too loudly). “I wouldn’t blame her.”

But, just as we’re all beginning to give up hope, the organ strikes up a chord and she is there: a vision of toile and lace, at the back of the church.

“Bloody hell!” Jane exclaims. “She’s wearing white!”

We are giggling by the time Liz passes us. She gives us the death stare and then glides, regally onward to meet her groom (whose smile has reappeared).  The service is a blur of Jerusalem, prayers and a sermon about marriage. The vicar says they must guard against bringing work home with them (and charging each other by hour, Jane adds).

“Although you both have busy lives and busy minds,” he explains. “You must find time for the important things in life; for each other. True happiness comes from contentment and love. Work is just a diversion; a means of paying your bills. Do not let it distract you from what is really important in life.”

All three of us glance at one another, and then at The Boss, who is shaking his head.

“It’s a pity we work for an atheist,” Alex sighs.

“Sadist,” Jane corrects him.  “Atheists don’t believe in God. The Boss doesn’t believe in life.”

“Perhaps he’ll have a religious conversion?” he suggests.

“Not even God is that powerful,” she laughs.









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