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Two weddings and a few rolls.

We're still here in England, I could cite family and work commitments as the reason, but oddly enough it was my husband who, unusually, suggested we stay on here longer. Of course it had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact Ireland aren't in the World Cup so the excitement back home would be dampened. Or that on these occasions, a pint of stout just doesn't oil your throat as well as bitter while you are hopping up and down with excitement with another halozen demented male human-beings in the local.

The football did, however, give me the perfect excuse to turn up my retrousse nose and go out shopping with my Mum while the lads strutted their stuff. I knew what the result was going to be, anyway. Yuri Geller had told me on GMTV.

Owen did manage to tear himself away from the TV long enough to attend a family celebration. He moaned about it, then conceded ungracefully, which, considering it was his family celebrating, I thought was a bit much.

It was an event we didn't have much notice about. Mind you, nor did anyone else for that matter. It took place in a borrowed Scout tent in a back garden in Essex. Owen's niece, all of 18 two weeks ago, announced on her birthday she was getting engaged.

When I inquired of my brother-in-law what I should take along by way of a pressie for the happy couple, he suggested something that would separate easily when they split up.

Hardly the spirit me-thought, but sensible perhaps.

When we arrived in the Scout-tent, we noticed our niece in one corner, and, clasped tightly beneath her considerable physique, was a pair of arms and legs. We presumed they must belong to the husband to be. No-one had met him before. Our niece had kept h er young man well tucked away from daylight and was obviously still doing so. When he finally came up for air, I understood why. From his pallor, he was either suffering from a Michael Jackson-type-skin-complaint, or he sleeps in a coffin by night. I was desperate to clasp him by his clammy hand and give his greasy ponytail a good soak in the tub.

God I felt old. As the afternoon dragged on, and everyone tried to look happy about the fact their bright, beautiful relative was affianced to an unemployed barman with rent-arrears and an uncanny resemblance to Neil from The Young Ones, I remembered my own chequered youth. I watched as the two of them ignored the spread so kindly laid on by the bemused parents and ate each other instead. Even when the rain poured down and the tent, which had probably been sewn together by Baden-Powell's own fair hands, proved not quite as waterproof as it should be, they continued in their exploration of each other.

Ten years ago, the bag of hormones in the corner had been a bridesmaid at our wedding. Owen and I glanced at each other, sympathy for the parents on our faces. We knew that the Red Head, posing and preening in her best frock, might one day put us ina si milar position.

Then I suddenly remembered so vividly the occasion when I had announced to my family that I was marrying a pale, unemployed actor from Essex who bore an uncanny resemblance to John Lennon.
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Author:Edmonds, Lucinda
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 27, 1998
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