On Thursday, two days before The Wedding of Amelia and Jack Next Door as announced at our Christmas lunch Amelia arrived on my doorstep with collywobbles the size of Australia. "What if Frank doesn't want me to get married again?" she said as she hoisted herself and her bags through my front door. Frank was her (now deceased) first husband and was the sweetest, kindest man in the world. "I'm sure he's okay about it" I pointed out, flinching as the phone rang in case it was the caterers with yet another crisis. Why, when we were paying them to manage this wedding, were they on the phone every half an hour with a query?
After a cup of tea and a dunked digestive she headed off to Jack Next Door's house to help him prepare the house for the arrival of his only daughter from Mexico and to finish his packing for his move to the residential home. I saw him in the garden on Tuesday morning seemingly saying farewell to the stumpy stumps of his rose trees.
Friday morning dawned and the flowers arrived for what had become a discreet family only wedding. After the ceremony at the registry office we were heading to Bea's palatial house for the reception before the happy couple headed off to the Lakes for a freezing week in a lakeside cottage. Amelia disappeared next door again, not looking herself and wearing a "sucking lemons" face.
At half past two, Jack's daughter Fiona knocked on our door to introduce herself and to inform us that the happy couple requested some "time alone". "I dread to think what they're getting up to!" she said as she bounced round the house, proclaimed the dogs "cool" and revealed that she was a geologist. And what that entailed. In mind numbing detail. I almost kissed Amelia when she reappeared. "We have an announcement" she said, glancing at Jack "but we're going to wait until David and Virginia are here".
Three hours later (I picked Mac up from school in a daze and didn't even go near Ayres) and David and Ginny arrived home. For the three hours we waited, the happy couple sat at the kitchen table holding hands and ignoring our pleas to be told what was happening. Fiona asked me how on earth I put up with Amelia. I snorted my response and then had a coughing fit. I was imagining all sorts of things - "at least she's not up the duff!" Fiona boomed - and, from the gaunt look on Jack's face, my money was, morbidly, on a terminal illness.
"We've decided not to get married after all" Amelia said once we were all seated in the living room. "What?" spluttered David at the same time as Ginny let out a bark of laughter "Why?" Fiona said, looking stunned (and jet lagged).
"Because Amelia.....I......we.....felt that at our time of life it was a ridiculous proposition" Jack said, squeezing Amelia's hand. "I flew all this way only for you to cancel the wedding?" Fiona said in a chilling voice "Do you have any idea what I had to do to get out of the field trip I had planned?" she went on. Ginny mouthed "What?" at me. "We felt it was ridiculous and unnecessary" Amelia added, throwing in "But we are going to co-habit" as an after thought. "Will the home allow that?" David asked, shooting me a look. I knew why, I moved into David's house a fortnight before we got married and was labelled a whore, a harlot and a fallen woman for doing so and he feared I was about to exact some revenge.
"Of course darling, we're not in the Dark Ages!" she laughed. Laughed! I was still struggling with the news and waste of money. But, having told us all, the still happy couple had relaxed and looked fifteen years younger and suggested we cracked open one of the many (many) bottles of sparkling wine we had "hanging around".
So. Can you imagine how I spent my Saturday morning? Placating a fuming Fiona (who hogged the computer trying - and failing - to change her flight back to Mexico), cancelling the Registry Office (who told me "no monies would be returned"), giving away buttonholes and table centre pieces, explaining to the caterers that, whilst we would pay them naturally, we no longer had any need for any of the food (apart from a selection of the choicest nibbles) and giving Bea a few suggestions on how to explain to Stephen that the house needed re-decorating anyway.
It was a breeze.