Thanks Noel for those kinds words, you can start drinking seriously now, and I would also like to commend him on resisting the extreme temptation of telling the one about the two nuns, the armadillo and the stirrup pump, any taxidermists in the room would have roared with laughter but the more genteel among us are probably best spared.
In my Collins Gem Book of Weddings that I bought last Saturday, making the first 290 pages redundant as I should have bought it sometime last year when I could have used the advice, page 87 for instance, ‘the best man should be responsible, level-headed and reliable’ or page 123, ‘do look at costs’, but anyway page 291 contains do’s and don’ts of making a speech – Don’t make jokes as the expense of the bride or her mother or ones that they would find offensive, especially if they are not taxidermists. Perhaps more usefully.
Don’t stare, try to look natural
Don’t wave your arms around or widely fiddle
Don’t speak too quirky, remember to breath and pause
Anyway my speech should start by thanking Noel, which I did and say how happy I am to be joining my wife’s family. After that’s it’s a list of more thankyous than Gwyneth Paltrow’s Oscar acceptance speech, so without further ado, I’ll get on.
What can I say about Noel and Mary? Firstly thanks for all your help with the big day, it’s been invaluable. The first time I met Noel, I was dressed as a Mexican and all that he knew about me was that I wasn’t Irish, couldn’t have even got in Jack Charlton’s Republic of Ireland side, that’s how un-Irish I was, that I had 3 children already and that I was considerably older than his beautiful only daughter. Almost instantly he would also have noticed that I sported an impressive Zapata moustache, that later fell off in a viciously note chilli prepared by Denise, and perhaps even more striking that I was a good 9 inches shorter than his beautiful tall daughter. But all that was ever reported back was that I sounded a bit posh, which I obviously am not, and that sort of sums up Noel and Mary for me.
They have been along a very windy road with Noelene and I, sometimes walking with us and sometimes just having to watch, and they have never judged our actions and only ever given advice when asked for it. They treat me like their son and I hope in turn, they believe that I treat them like a second mum and dad. They, with Noelene, are the tightest trio since the Bee Gees, the way they loved and care for each other has made me strive to be a better person too, and they have welcomed me and indeed my children into their world without question or reservation. And I want to thank them for it, I’ve asked for a lot and they’ve always given.
Equally importantly, they are always looking to enjoy themselves, whether it’s a great night out, a drunken afternoon in or just an hour on the sofa laughing about something that happened that day or 30 years ago, they love life and try to squeeze every last drop out of it at every opportunity. I love them.
Now, some others I love and want to thank, my mum and dad, you made me what I am today, and continue to pay the penalty, you’ve welcome Noelene into the fold despite her not always knowing the capital of some obscure European provinces or being able to do simultaneous equations when tested, you have always supported Noelene and I getting together and continue to show a genuine interest in everything we do or plan to do. Love and thanks from us both.
Now to the real weddingy stuff.
Louise and Karen, thank you on behalf of all heterosexual males in the room for looking gorgeous, for being our friends and of course being the finest witnesses since the Judge John Deed 2004 Christmas Special with Felicity Kendall.
Next, Karen again, (you only get one present), it’s in her contract that she has to do 2 things on the day, she also has only red M & M’s, Evian water and Egyptian cotton towels in her trailer. And my sister Andy, McVities digestives, a nice cup of tea and towels from Debenhams washed in non-bio Persil. Thank you both for your beautiful choice of readings and indeed the beautiful way that you read them, very brave and very touching, not a dry eye in the house, except my uncle Jimmy’s left one which is glass, try not to stare if you talk to him as his glazed expression may appear alcohol related, but believe me it isn’t, it’s medical.
My other sister Max has been a continuous supporter of Noelene and I and has been no different today with her masterly control of all things floral including the cake decorations, some things human, some things quite close to human and being an all round great help. Presents for my sisters.
Talking of cake, and I did, the magnificent creation over there was designed and made by Noelene’s and my favourite chef and next door neighbour Reg as our wedding present from him and his lovely wife Jacqui. Reg’s level of enthusiasm for life makes Jamie Oliver look like he couldn’t care less and Keith Floyd look like he’s on the wagon. Reg, a small present for you, it’s a book token.
Ushers, there was three of them, an inside and outside centre and a trusty full back who caught everything that they missed. Graham, my brother-in-law by any other name and my sons Dave and Rob, thank you. After the boys had got over the shock of finding that had to do something, “I thought we just stood around and looked good” they did a great job supporting Graham. Graham you look even better in the morning suit than you thought you would. Presents.
My niece Finola, Fin, who sang at the ceremony, I’m her uncle so I can’t really say just how beautiful she looks but I can wonder at how amazingly she sang. I originally asked her to sing something to make us cry and she had planned to put the invoice from Walton Hall to music, however I believe her choice of A Red Red Rose, supported by the Bellini Strings was a better choice, seriously that was a truly emotional moment for me and many others, Thanks Fin.
Rich my best man, how lucky am I? Some people pick for their best man a reliable guy they know because they want it all to run smoothly and it does but it’s dull, some people pick their best friend and it all turns to rat excrement. I picked my best mate and he’s the best organiser since Filofax. As Rich said to me a couple of days ago, he and I have been through a lifetime of emotions together in the last six years and on various occasions spent more time on each others floors, either sleeping or drunk, than any rug either of us have ever owned. Thanks for everything Rich. Another book token.
Bridesmaids. Gorgeous. I’ve always thought Debi was lovely and George is my daughter so obviously is the most beautiful girl in the world without question. Thank you for all the effort you put in to make our day special.
Now I want to thank everyone else here who has given up their time to see us married and join in the celebrations. The McColgans and the Gallens from Ireland, thanks for making the trip. The entire population of West Sussex, thank you all, and I know that is all of you, for making such an effort. On a personal note can I thank you all for welcoming me into your families and your homes with such kindness.
Thanks to the Lambs/Andrews derived clans from Norwich, Birmingham, Swansea and London, it is appreciated.
Also all our friends from near and far who have been there through thick and thin, rich and poor, good and bad, mad and sad and still are here with us today at a really great moment in our lives. Thank you too.
To the Wye Close representative, the best cul-de-sac in Britain maybe the world, thanks for coming, thanks for making life easier and nicer ofr Noelene and I.
My kids Dave, Rob and George, thanks for being who you are, for letting me be your friend and your dad, most of the time, I love you, I think you’re great whatever I tell you after this speech is over and you walk up to me to rip me about it later.
On a day like this, just to say a couple of words about people I wish were here, Noelene’s brothers and Noel’s brother and my mums sisters, all a long time ago for some of us but not for those who loved them most, more recently my nan, Lena, Noelene’s Auntie Rose and Andy’s John who have all left gaping holes in people’s lives that they once filled. I know other people who have lost loved ones recently too. I don’t mean to make you sad, I just ask you to imagine the fun that they would have had today. Also Noelene’s Granny, Noel’s mum Sadie, who can’t be here officially because she’s 88 and allegedly too poorly to travel, but in truth because she runs the nursing home in Newtownstewart and it’s all octogenarian inhabitants from her armchair in the sitting room and if she left no one would know what to do. And last but no means least Monty, who is always in our thoughts, our beds, our wardrobes and usually licking his butt.
So on to my wife, I’m not articulate enough to tell you what she really means to me, she is the most beautiful person inside and out that I have ever known. I love her so much, every day when we’re apart I long to see her again, she is so lovely to look at and so considerate and caring about so many people, but even though she spreads her time and affection too thin for her own good, she always still has loads left for me.
Noelene helps and listens to those who need it, rarely judges and brings people together. She has been the catalyst that means almost all our friends from the close will be here today, she has initiated all the get togethers for my family and her own, she encourages others to conquer their worries and fears and when my children really need help or want something done, they tend to ask her first. On rare occasions the odd misguided person takes Noelene’s kinds as weakness and this can end in tears, for them, as she is the strongest willed person you will ever meet, and not to be underestimated. Sure she can be weird and quirky, but people have suggested that even I can be slightly eccentric at times, but together we have such a laugh and so much in common, from background to outlook. We love life and living together, we’re rocks for each other and our bon is unbreakable. I’m such a lucky man.