To Hester: a lover of hugs and history

Over the past few years, I have been very lucky. I have found better friends than I ever thought I would, and, more recently, have fallen on my feet at the church I now go to. Now, I could probably get through several blog posts by giving a shout out to everyone I’ve met since my uni years, but for now, I’m giving the spotlight to my friend Hester and her family.

I’ll start with a few key points. Firstly, I met Hess and her family through various Navigators* events and activities. I distinctly remember meeting Hester the first time I went to the Navs weekend away in Blackpool, but given that I spent the whole weekend hiding behind the only person I knew, I fully understand if she doesn’t remember this. While I was at uni, her parents took me under their wings, inviting me over, giving me lifts to places, and showing me endless kindness. And Hester herself, despite any emotional upheaval of her own, is one of my go-to friends and text recipients when life has taken a plunge. Panic attack on a trip abroad? My sister getting dangerously ill? She always has a listening ear and words of comfort. And a hug like no one else.

I’m pleased to say, I’m not the only person who appreciates this. Cue a brief introduction to James: fellow student Nav back in the day, medic-in-training, and a generally great guy. When Hess started coming to weekly Navs Bible study evenings, they bonded over a love of history, castles, and other brainy topics. I had my suspicions about how this would end up when I was waiting in town for Hester and she arrived under James’ arm. Last Saturday, my suspicions came true: they got married!

Given that history is her main forte, I was rather pleased with my suggestion that she should wear a suit of armour on the day, and a little disconcerted when she turned up in a wedding dress instead. I stand by my opinion that this is a highly original and creative idea of mine, but actually, it would have made disco dancing awkward, come to think of it.

In all seriousness, I’m honoured to have been so involved. I was invited to her hen party, and felt like a kid again. This may have been from playing games like pass the parcel and Blind Man’s Buff. It may have been from the sheer amount of cake I consumed. Or it may have been me shadowing her mum the whole time, relapsing into my childhood habit of staying close to the grown-ups when I could be mingling with the other children…

Finally, last weekend, I got to play my violin in the church band! Having got back from holiday two days previously, and arranged to stay with different people the night before and after, I felt a bit like I was on tour. I also felt like my playing gave off the (correct) impression that I’d only been around for one rehearsal, and that I didn’t know at least two of the songs. But whatever my playing sounded like, I loved every minute of the day. In conclusion, I am proud to be friends with Hester and James, and have high hopes for their life ahead. To the bride and groom: a big, Hess-style bear hug from me!

At the hen party

Castle cake!

 

 

*A Christian mission organisation which included a student group in Leicester that I was involved in.

Advertisements

Ode to Jennie – marriage, madness, and much more

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, glasses and close-up

At a wedding, you hear all manner of speeches. And I never did get to give my “intern of the bride” speech. So here it is.

After 10 months of messing around in a shop together, on Saturday 1st July I got to celebrate the marriage of one of my dearest, craziest friends Jennie, and fellow New Wine course member Jan*. It was fun, it was heartfelt, and it was an event that my colleagues predicted from the moment Jan became the intern at the bookshop where we work. Well, that’s what they say. Jennie hotly denies it.

Anyway. My first memory of Jennie, assistant manager extraordinaire, was at my interview last August, as Jan’s potential successor. Picture it: the bookshop’s back office, papers and packaging everywhere, and me, dutifully answering every question my now-boss was firing at me. Jennie, meanwhile, was sitting to one side silently judging me. If she had a beard, I bet she would have been stroking it.

Weeks later, and the dynamics in our relationship had changed enough to be able to communicate “difficult customer alert!” with just one glance. We bonded over our love of to-do lists, and it wasn’t long before the ones she wrote for me included “squash the world in a garlic press” or “High five yourself and then the nearest apple.” And when our conversations got too weird, we mastered the ability to stop whenever a customer came in, and resume without missing a beat once the shop was empty.

For all Jennie’s quirks, the main reason we’ve become so close is that we never felt under pressure to befriend each other. I mean, we’re super introverts. We don’t thrive under high social demands. Although I did rely on her to show me how things were done, other than that, we happily kept our heads down until we were comfortable enough to talk properly. I’d say that was a major breakthrough.

And somehow, we just connected. I love it when that happens. She has shown infinite patience with me, by the way, no matter how many times I screw up because I thought I knew what to do. Wedding preparation has been stressful for her, but throughout it all, she has remained kind, funny, and brilliant at everything she does.

She has also very generously given me a say in certain aspects of the wedding. I have to say, I think my suggestion of a giant, hollow chocolate orange as a carriage was a stroke of genius, even if she did say I’d be the one pulling it. And her hen do: 9.30am – 5pm, in a Christian bookshop, selling books, eating biscuits, and winding each other up.

And now the wedding has come and gone. Apart from anything, it was fun! It was another bonding experience with the other New Wine interns, and we had a lot of laughs playing air guitar in time to some good old disco music. I feel honoured to have attended, and know that they will have a wonderful, long life together. Jan is friendly and funny, and it has also been a pleasure to get to know him along with the other interns.

Now, in just a few weeks, they are moving to Mattersey, Nottinghamshire. Jan will be going to Bible college. Jennie will have a new job. I’ll be twiddling my thumbs in a shop where no-one sneaks up behind me, then laughs when I scream. Or finds endless good things to say about me no matter how wrong I prove them.

Jennie, thank you for a great year. Keep on doing amazing things in life!

 

 

*Think German, and pronounce the J as a Y. Please. He gets sick of being mistaken for a woman.

 

To the bride and groom!

IMAG0028 After spending at least a fortnight having nothing interesting to blog about, this weekend has been the stuff of legends. It’s not often that I allow my stepfather to help me fail at Ceilidh dancing (pronounced “kaylee” – no, I didn’t see the spelling coming either). And it was a once in a lifetime event for family and friends alike, but most of all for my dear stepbrother and stepsister-in-law, the newlyweds Mickey and Sarah.

Those of you who have been reading my blog since April will already know about Sarah. If you haven’t, she and I have been friends through letter writing, blog following, room sharing and, more recently, my visit to her student house in St Andrews. Thinking about it, her dating my stepbrother Mickey may also have been a contributing factor. She is also, next to my Grannie, my most loyal blog follower, as was shown by her reading and commenting on my last post even with the wedding day looming large.

My first memory of their relationship was of 12 year old me asking 15 year old Mickey to describe his new girlfriend, preferably without getting too sentimental about it, and him deliberately describing her as over-romantically as possible. Since then, other family members may have had a closer view of their relationship than I have. However, when pretty much everyone who gave a wedding speech recounted how Mickey is on the way to overcoming his fear of fruit and vegetables and how video games are no longer the main love of his life, I do know where they are coming from.

About a month before the wedding, my sister and I had the honour of attending Sarah’s hen party. It was an Alice in Wonderland themed tea party, complete with Alice in Wonderland themed garden ornaments and intricately decorated crockery with labels saying “drink/eat me”. Apparently there was a prize for the best decorated hat. Unsurprisingly my sunhat covered with foreign postage stamps, though showing my superior sense of originality, may have been put to shame by other guests’ mad hatter/wedding/flamingo themed handmade hats. The music was a combo of Disney, Taylor Swift and Carly Rae Jepsen, to name but a few, and I have a feeling this was Sarah’s way of saying a fond farewell to her favourite songs without Mickey there to intervene. All in all, a fantastic party.

3750_10152917464205220_2026253489_n

The wedding, on Saturday 13th July, was a huge success. The order of service sheets were said to be indicators of everything that would be happening during the wedding, but we all knew their real purpose: to be used as fans to combat the hottest heat the UK has had so far. As I witnessed the ceremony and marital vows take place, I was struck by how quickly the past two and a half years had gone since their engagement. I also felt a renewed sense of respect for how far Mickey and Sarah had come in their relationship and their obvious love for each other.

The Ceilidh dance was part of the wedding reception, along with cake, a bouncy castle, cake, getting reacquainted with Sarah’s friends, cake, etc. Maybe it was the few sips of champagne I’d had, maybe the heat was affecting my brain – but I, with my two left feet and fear of looking like a fool, somehow ended up dancing the evening away. And enjoying it. And leaving the building more tired than I sometimes am after a gym workout.

One of my favourite parts of the reception was Sarah’s sister’s bridesmaid speech. It was witty, informative and gave Mickey clear instructions on how to live with Sarah. So, to conclude, I would just like to wish Mickey the best of luck in finding ways to distract Sarah from things that over excite her, other than by playing dead or pretending there’s a fire. I also sincerely hope that Sarah is successful in preventing Mickey from naming their future children “Captain”, “Damaj” or “Danja” – I’ve told her she can go into hiding in my room until the birth certificates are signed. Mostly I would just like to echo what has already been wished a thousand times: a long and happy future together. All my love to you both.