Yes, the title is ironic.
It may surprise you to hear this, but I was once engaged. When I’d met Vicky in late 1999, her arrival had been heralded for several weeks before hand, and when she finally turned up like Hurricane Victoria, she didn’t disappoint, twirling me up in the air and then depositing me hundreds of miles away several months later. But during this whirlwind romance, I did at least get to experience one of the strangest sights I’d ever seen - two heroin addicts tying the knot. While on heroin.
It was Christmas, and Vic had taken me home to meet her parents for a few days. As the new fiance, I was really nervous. When we got to her family home, her dad, who was ex-military, was standing in the kitchen with his back to us.
“Dad, this is Jon,” said Vicky. He turned to face us. He was terrifyingly huge. He looked me up and down, then turned to Vicky and said:
“He’s an ugly fucker, isn’t he?”
“Ah, but I’ve got a massive penis,” I quipped. He stared at me for about 30 seconds, we shook hands and all was fantastic.
As Christmas Eve rolled around, I’d been at Vicky’s house for a few days when the phone rang. Vicky grabbed it, and then had a clearly strange conversation with someone. She put down the phone.
“That was Dave. He’s getting married to a girl called Mel on Jan 1st 2000. He’s asked if we want to go to the wedding?” Now I hadn’t heard about Dave before. Apparently, he was estranged from the family after a criminal conviction, and was now a drug-addicted Big Issue salesman in the nearby city. The family hadn’t spoken to him for many years, so this caused quite a stir, but they all decided they would go and at least try and support him.
That evening, we went to the pub, and Vicky told her friends about the unexpected wedding invite. When she got to the bit about Mel, one of her friends blurted out:
“Not MAD Mel?” Apparently, Mel was an equally notorious heroin addict in the city. Vicky put her face in her palm.
“Yep,” she said. “That’ll be her.”
As luck had it, Vicky and I were in town again for New Years Day, and while we were feeling slightly worse for wear after a night of drink and drugs (I know! The hypocrisy!) we stumbled down, bleary eyed, to the Registry Office. When we got there, it turned out that no-one had actually paid for the wedding. So we unexpectedly had to have a whip round then and there, pulling small coins and notes from every pocket. Eventually we managed to cobble together just enough money between us to pay for the service.
We went into the registry room, and I surveyed the guests. on one side there was myself and Vicky, her mum, dad and elderly grandma. On the other side were the friends of the bride and groom. They looked a bit unusual to say the least.
One of them had a spider web tattoo covering pretty much his entire face.
The cheap portable CD player was engaged, and the happy couple entered the room. They’d clearly just pushed off before the service began, and while it was mercifully brief, they still failed to successfully complete a single part of the call and response parts of the service without a considerable amount of confused mumbling. You know you’re in trouble when the groom says “I doh” and the registrar snaps shut their book, saying: “Close enough”.
After a particularly passionate bout of kissing the bride, during which Dave openly groped his new wife’s breasts, the by-now-slightly-impatient registrar was keen to move the debacle on.
“I believe there’s a song you’ve picked to play you out into the ceremonial gardens?” and with that nodded at the organist (well, CD player operator).
Now, the song that they meant to play was Dean Martin’s That’s Amore.
But it was one of those ‘Best of the 60’s’ CD’s and the CD Operator put the wrong track on. Instead of ‘That’s Amore’, she played this:
Which is pretty much the least appropriate song you could ever play at a wedding. As soon as the distinctive opening bars kicked in, I realised what it was, and I started biting my tongue, knowing that if I opened my mouth or looked at Vicky I would explode into laughter and ruin what little sanctity there was left in this union.
As the guests filtered out of the registry office, the friends of the bride and groom ran off. We later found out they’d had to go to sign on with with their respective parole officers in the local police station. But it was ok, because they joined us later in the reception.
Which was held in the local night shelter.
The room was a state, with strung out people wandering in and out of the room, looking confused. In fairness, they’d put on a good spread of Tesco Value Sausage Rolls and breadsticks with dips. My abiding memory was of Vicky’s Grandma trying to engage a clearly high dude sitting in a ratty armchair in old person smalltalk.
“So, what do you do, dear?”
Vicky and I split up a few months later, and so did Dave and his new bride. I guess this one was a double dating disaster then.