8 countries, 1 wedding, no funerals.

Vicenza - 04/08/2010

Our road had ended in a flurry of confetti. Suddenly after two weeks it was no longer de rigueur to leave our accommodation in clothes more creased than Nelson Mandela's face. By the skillful location and application of a travel iron my shirt was made smooth (apparently I could also have straightened my hair with it, had I any). My travelling companion had turned Chief Bridesmaid© and my friends had turned wed. The ceremony was short and.........moving, an odd sensation for someone who usually experiences emotional movement of the most glacial sort. I confess that I cast my doubts on marriage; I opine on its sustainability, its compromise, its purpose. And yet, and yet, I sat and envied and awed and smiled broadly and warmly and sincerely. I saw loveliness and rightness and a warm blanket of feeling wrapped my heart. The happiness was palpable and I was grateful to be there to experience it. I have likely used my ration of gushing sentiment now so I shall cease, only remaining to say congratulations R&R, it was a little bit perfect. In Italia wedding ceremonies last 10 minutes and wedding receptions last 10 courses. We thought we were successfully cracking on with the first of these only to be told it was simply an intro buffet and did not have full dinner course status, I quietly removed the canape from my mouth. Our √©picurien odyssey began with.........well I can't remember, it was food and it was most pleasing to the palate and the rest of the dinner is lost in a hazy whirl of ever revolving china. Suffice to say it was was savoured and if Old MacDonald had had a farm I believe this banquet sampled most of its hooved and web-footed inhabitants. It put our staples of the past fortnight - bread, meat and cheese firmly into their place. After an inventive raffle to send the Bride & Groom on their honeymoon with a few extra pesos, we began a couple of traditional Italian party games. The first 'groping me, groping you' comprises a line of male or female party guests and the bride or groom secreted amongst them. The other, unsecreted half of the marital couple must then identify their new spouse only by the feel of their now exposed calves. Needless to say Ricky & Rachel should devote a little time on honeymoon acquainting themselves with each other's lower legs. The second game involved a deformed pantomime horse and some whipped cream, more I cannot add.
After an expected (to the participants at least) duet from bride and Chief Bridesmaid© the dancefloor was thrown open.............to me. Word of my creative choreography and frenetic jigging had crossed the continent and there was an Italian clamour for a rendition of 'la canzone del telephono' or in other words the thing they call 'The Telephone Song'. My own recollection of the encircled solo performance is patchy (due not to alcohol but trauma). Thank the stars then that the 'eh, eh, ehs' and akimboed legs were committed to celluloid for posterity and repeated public viewings. The rest of the evening passed in an ensconced blur of vino rosso (e? i? e? i? o?) and inappropriate advances on young Italian men (Mrs. Hartles, not me. I think). Thankfully, enough people retained their strength and senses to wrestle the microphone from Susan Boyle...sorry.......Michael Hartles at the end of the night. The abiding memory is of a most splendid way to end to long trip.

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