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There will be no research leave updates this week, because the master plan advises that May is 'probably a good point at which to take a clear, structured week off'. And this week I am taking that advice.

Holiday Tiems actually started late on Friday afternoon, when I set off for the station to catch a train to Tunbridge Wells for the wedding of swisstone and ladymoonray. I'd never been there before (and of course its reactionary reputation precedes it), but it is all very idyllic and leafy and Edwardian-looking. I stayed at The Royal Wells hotel, where allegedly Queen Victoria liked to go in her youth, but I expect her room was a little bit bigger than mine.

The wedding itself took place on May Day, which made for a lovely way to mark the day. I elected not to wake up in time to greet the dawn because I didn't want to be tired out for the main event. But on my taxi ride into town I saw people carrying drums and dressed as trees, and other people later reported having seen Morris dancers. So there were clearly some local celebrations along the lines of what they do in Oxford going on, which was nice. The weather was somehow typically May Day-ish, too - grey clouds and showers interspersed with spells of warm bright sunshine, and a feeling of vegetation springing vividly back into life all around us.

The groom is a big train enthusiast - I'm not so sure about the bride, but I guess you don't agree to marry a train geek unless you're happy enough to travel to your wedding in a steam train! So most of the guests travelled to the venue in specially booked carriages on the Spa Valley railway - one group with the groom, and another on a later train with the bride. The ceremony itself then took place at the High Rock hotel and restaurant, which was one stop down the line from Tunbridge Wells, with photos afterwards at the high rocks themselves - an absolutely stunning natural rock formation offering many exciting climbing and exploration opportunities to delight the children present and terrify the adults!

The ceremony took place in a large timber-framed hall, and was simple but beautiful, complete with readings from Catullus ('Let us live and let us love', gilded with a gentle Scottish burr by LJ's own missfairchild) and Ursula le Guin (a wedding scene from Lavinia, which I really must read). The dinner was in the same hall afterwards, as well, with one of the best wedding menus I think I've ever had the pleasure of eating, topped off by a delicious and extremely chocolatey cake made by sushidog. And the speeches were awesome - heartfelt expressions of thanks and happiness from both bride and groom, which quite brought a lump to my throat, followed by a riotous act from major_clanger in his role as best man. This drew on his professional status as a lawyer, and consisted of him cross-examining himself as a witness to swisstone's extreme nerdiness, and concluding that the groom was guilty as sin, and could only hope to be redeemed by means of a life-time's custodial sentence in the care of the bride.

I've known swisstone for some six years now, and it was fantastic to see him so utterly, unashamedly happy on Saturday. This is a man who truly, truly deserves to have both a fantastic wedding day and a wonderful future, and it is great to see him getting started on that. I have seen him so many times being so kind and thoughtful, so enthusiastic about other people's achievements and so generous with his time, and it was an honour to be able to be present celebrating one of the most important moments of his life. He is going to make ladymoonray a fantastic husband. :-)

Meanwhile, for me as a guest I think the thing I will remember most about this wedding is how friendly and interesting and engaging the other guests were, and how socially cohesive the whole gathering. The photo calls really made it clear how many different groups of people had been brought together, but also how distinctly they overlapped and interlinked. Of course there were photographs of family groups and of all the guests gathered together in one spot, but there were also calls for a number of specific groups of friends - so far as I can remember: Manchester people, Edinburgh people, Local people, Kate's old friends, Classicists and Historians, Goths and people who swear they're Not Goths Really, and Sci-Fi and Comics fans. People were encouraged to self-select for whichever groups they felt were appropriate, and personally I elected to be in all of the latter three. But I think pretty much everyone who was in any one of those photos was also in more than one of them.

I knew that a few people I knew would be there, but I hadn't realised quite how many old faces I would recognise whom I hadn't seen for anything between about five and ten years - particularly from my days at Whitby and Slimelight. I also met loads of fantastically interesting new people too - some of whom I was introduced to, but others of whom I just fell into conversation with. Somehow it just seemed to be that sort of event. And, just as the photo-calls had demonstrated, each new person I met turned out to link in with my existing social contacts - often via several different routes. As the shout-outs in this post will already have indicated, nearly_everyone was there, and as I think we all know here on LJ, there are only 200 real people in the world, and they all already know each other. I'm pretty sure all of them were at this wedding.

And even those people who had been drawn together from utterly different parts of Kate and Tony's social or professional lives took each other just as they came, and got on beautifully. Perhaps the most representative moment for this was finding myself dancing to 'Nelly the Elephant', which was clearly being played because of its status as a Whitby '80s night dancefloor classic, with Birgitta Hoffmann, who co-directs the Roman Gask Project. Afterwards she merely commented, "That wasn't quite how I learnt it in primary school." But really, the whole day was like that. Brilliant.

As for the rest of the week, I have spent today busy doing nothing at all. Well, no - I have caught up on LJ, Facebook, emails and the weekend's TV, in between watching the snooker. That is still going on now, and looks like it could go on until about 2 in the morning. Both players are clearly very tense, and playing quite scrappily as a result. At the time of writing I think all of about 6 points have been scored in the last half-hour - or that's how it feels, anyway. But I do not care! I am on holiday, and can stay up as late as I like!

(ETA: Neil Robertson is clearing up now. This is beautiful snooker. Why couldn't he have played like this all evening?)

My main goal for the rest of the week is to de-blue my kitchen. Currently, it has duck-egg blue units, bright blue tiles, a pale sparkly blue floor, pale blue doors and blue walls. Even if I liked blue, that would be a bit much. Meanwhile, for some reason, someone has at some point chosen to paint the door-frames and skirting-boards a shade which the half-empty tin left behind in the shed reveals is called 'urban grey'. It's about as attractive as it sounds. So the blue walls and the grey woodwork are going, in favour of pale creams of the type which will complement the remaining blues without overwhelming the room.

I'm also having some local chums round for an election 2010 all-nighter on Thursday, in honour of which I shall be popping into town tomorrow to buy an assortment of red, blue and yellow sweets for consumption when the relevant parties win seats. It should be a good night - clearly it's going to be a very close-run election, and probably also one which has a major long-lasting effect on the political landscape in this country. It's not like the snooker, of course - it's our collective future at stake, not a shiny trophy. But all the more reason to go through it in the company of friends, I think.

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( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 4th, 2010 01:31 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for the write-up of swisstone's wedding;
I'd seen all the photos on Facebook, and it's great to have a narrative to fit them into!
May. 4th, 2010 09:29 am (UTC)
Cheers! Yes, this is a good argument for why we will always need LJ and not just Facebook, isn't it? It's been great seeing all the pictures, especially once I realised that I could also see pictures taken by people I don't have friended, as long as they have tagged someone I know (e.g. Tony) and left their photos publicly visible. But you're right - pictures do not actually tell the entire story.
May. 4th, 2010 06:51 am (UTC)
Oh, what a fantastic write-up. Thanks. (I may quote you in a letter of thanks I'm going to write to the venue.)
May. 4th, 2010 09:32 am (UTC)
Thank you for inviting me to such a special day. You two really have some great friends, and it was a pleasure to be part of it all. And yes - do feel free to quote away if that's helpful to you. I have actually deliberately left this entry public so that other guests who aren't on my friends list will be able to read it if they want to.
May. 4th, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC)
You two really have some great friends

Yes. I've come to the conclusion that this is because we're really lovely people! ;-)
May. 4th, 2010 07:38 pm (UTC)
That is absolutely correct! :-)
May. 4th, 2010 07:03 am (UTC)
What a lovely weekend!

I'll be going local for the election, I fear - we have a friend coming to stay that night. But she is a staunch Lib Dem supporter, so will keep us on the straight and narrow!
May. 4th, 2010 09:33 am (UTC)
Yes, that's fine - I gathered as much from biascut's journal. Hope you have a brill time over in Manchester, and maybe we will all connect via LJ and FB as we watch anyway?
May. 4th, 2010 09:31 am (UTC)
That sounds like a lovely wedding :)

It's funny what you say about people all being linked together. Recently I've been going through a spell online of either finding people I used to know, in unexpected ways, or finding that two friends who don't know each other have a place or person in common - for example, realising today that I have two LJ friends who live in the same town and go to some of the same places. Now you mention Slimelight which my goth DJ friend has also talked about. It really is a small world!

Your election all-nighter sounds like fun! I'll be staying up to watch it as well, although probably on my own, as I don't think any of my local friends are that interested.
May. 4th, 2010 09:35 am (UTC)
Yes, I think LJ really makes that kind of inter-connectedness much clearer than it would otherwise be. You'd think in a country of over 60 million people that it wouldn't happen, but actually of course we all tend to mix primarily with people who have a similar background and similar interests to ourselves. So it turns out that most of us move around in a much smaller pool of people than we think - albeit these days one which is not confined to a particular geographical area.
May. 4th, 2010 10:26 am (UTC)
You are far too kind about me!

I promised various people I'd post my speech, so here it is.
May. 4th, 2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
No - your speech was fantastic, and many thanks for posting it up so we can re-live it. It wasn't just that it was properly funny, but also the way that it was so personally tailored to Tony, and also to your friendship with him. I'd be thrilled if someone made a speech like that about me.
May. 4th, 2010 10:54 am (UTC)
Thanks for this lovely comprehensive post - we were invited, but sadly couldn't make it, so this was lovely to read. I shall ask Simon to post his speech so I can read it :)
May. 4th, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
Thanks - I'm glad you enjoyed it. And I believe that Simon has indeed posted up his speech - see the link in his comment above if you've not already spotted it.
May. 4th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
I didn't realise you liked snooker! It wasn't the best final in the world, was it. One which Graeme Dott lost, rather than Neal Robertson winning, as I suspect if Dott had played like he did against Selby, the result would have been reversed. So many silly minor mistakes.

Shame about Davis. I had the feeling he would lose the next match badly after the effort of beating Higgins, but what a fantastic match to watch.
May. 4th, 2010 03:39 pm (UTC)
I was manic about snooker when I was about 14 - even went to see a match once between Stephen Hendry and Steve James. I'd lost track of it for years, but have got back into it over the last 18 months or so, mainly thanks to jekesta's posts about it (also available at Right Side of the Blue). I've taken a while to get used to all these new-fangled players, but actually really took a shine to Neil Robertson in last year's world championship, so it is great to see him winning this year. But yes - neither of them were playing at their best last night.
May. 4th, 2010 05:55 pm (UTC)
Me too - I went to see John Higgins play at the Hexagon with puritypersimmon in 1992 and got his autograph. I always thought he was a straight up decent bloke :-/
May. 4th, 2010 07:41 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that is some pretty devastating news, there. I don't really have any long-running vested interest in John Higgins personally, as he came on the scene after I had already stopped keeping up with it. But now every time someone just misses a shot, it's impossible not to think, "Are they doing that deliberately?" I doubt anyone would in a World Championship final, or indeed any match in the tournament. But it has cast a nasty light over everything.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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