As a writer, words are my life, so you would think putting together a wedding speech would be easy. However, I have come against up a very common problem for hacks like me, another writer who once lived in Little Venice – Robert Browning – has already nicked the best line I could have ever come up with: ‘Oh to be in England, now that April’s there.’
My other problem, is that although I am ridiculously English, my native language is now Ozlish. Sweets are now lollies, thongs are worn on the feet and a crude word that should only be used by shepherds – dag – is now a term of endearment. Of course, being Ozlish does have one benefit. If England get beaten by the Yanks tonight, I can always cheer on the Socceroos tomorrow.
One part of this speech is easy though – the thank yous. Thank you to everyone who has travelled to be with us today. Thank you for coming from the wilds of Wiltshire, Wessex and Yorkshire. Thank you for braving London traffic or journeying north of the river. Thank you most of all to those who have flown thousands of miles.
Thank you to Matt, my best man. It is a title well earned. You have been brilliant – not just in this role, but in all the others you have ever played for me, most notably that as friend and brother.
Before I move on, I would also like to toast absent family and friends. Ian my new brother-in-law, my brother and Japanese family and to those across the Atlantic who I regard as brothers. Most of all, I want to toast our three absent grandmothers, with more than 250 years of wisdom and love between them, they are a blessing on our family.
London is a magical city, full of the most wonderful opportunities for colliding with people, ideas and things from across the globe. Since very early days it has always been this way, a hoodoo city where cultures rubbed against each other to create new forms. When this town was called Londinium, citizens from every Roman territory and beyond came up the Thames to trade and mix. This hoodoo is what London does, what it has always done. It brings the globe to England and mixes it in its streets and villages to create the opportunity for magical meetings.
Without London playing this role, I would probably have never had the chance to meet many of the people in this room today and I would certainly have never had the chance to meet April. So if anyone wants to blame anyone or anything for this marriage, blame London. It is what London does whilst you are living and working in it. It happily collides you with a girl from the other side of the world who you would have never have had a chance to meet in a million years in Essex and BANG – you fall in love.
While London hoodoo might be responsible for us meeting, there was an awful lot of courting that was down to me. During the early days of this courting, when April would only ever describe me as her 'sort of boyfriend’ my grandfather asked: “If your lass was a Beatles’ song, what Beatles’ song would she be?” That is not an easy question to answer. However, it strikes me that any relationship will go through many Beatles’ songs. From starting with I Want To Hold Your Hand and I Got To Get You Into My Life to Come Together and if you are very lucky, to a moment like this where aside from the obvious When I’m 64, the Beatle’s song April is to me is In My Life.
There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
In my life I love you more
So, please, if you will, can you raise you glasses to April Southwell – to the woman who is my sunshine, my atomic sun smile, my best friend and who not only makes everyday an adventure, but everyday feel like I am dancing through raindrops.