I was talking to Jeff the other evening, the one who’s been best man at two or three of my weddings: we keep arguing about the exact number. The object or subject of conversation, and I don’t know which one it is, Samantha, had been pencilled in as the lady who would help me reach the big Ten, that is 10 for those like me, whose spelling is slightly wobbly. I admit to my early Fifties although for the pedantic among you, chronologically speaking, I suppose I’m nearer sevent-two and three-quarters: keep that yourselves.
Samantha, who admits to her late thirties, has a pale, drawn face and thinning hair which indicates there is a level of uncertainty about her actual age. I’ve got no problem with that: banal candour, pedantic literalism or mindless honesty have little place in that small world between the present and the future where daydreams might dwell and I like to live.
“Let’s face it Jeff, I think Sammi might be dragged towards the town hall by the promise of a cocktail or two, and a swift turn round the dance hall but these local government types like facts, and we both know facts and happiness are seldom found in the same envelope.” . Anyway, both Sammi and I like to dream and, to be candid, I’d rather walk naked into a chemist’s shop and ask for diarrhoea tablets than burden Sammi with a literal account of my past. None of my previous wives have been willing to accept it when they discovered it, so I don’t see why she should be faced a burden others find unsettling.
Jeff nodded, he knew fact from fiction having spent three years in jail for indulging in a short period of embezzlement at an insurance company followed by a decent helping of perjury at the trial held to decide if he was guilty. The judge, who had clearly lived a fenced-off life in some nameless suburb apparently disliked fiction and sentenced Geoff, whose blazing and original imagination was revered by all who drank with him, to this unsettling period of incarceration.
Anyway I’m drifting from the point of the story which one tends to do if you are over seventy, drunk and wondering if you can manage one more spin around the marriage wheel: the point is Jeff came up a bloody brilliant idea. There is a custom, apparently, in a small island state off the South American coast were a certain amount of howling at the moon combined with drinking and dancing constitutes exchanging wedding vows: form filling is limited to the hotel register and dreary levels of pedantry are not required.
For free-thinking, free-spirited “would-be” youths of mine and Sammi’s outlook, such a festivity is more than enough to clear any misgivings both of us might have about sharing a roof while unmarried. Let’s be honest with you, which I dislike, I’ve tried to be a good parent to all my fifteen children, although the jury’s still out on that one, but I’ve come up with a cunning plan that each of them might contribute 300 quid towards our proposed nuptials thus easing my financial burden.
The more unkind among them have suggested that having me out of the country for a while is certainly an incentive. Mind you, getting Jeff his airfare is going to be a struggle: he’s never been married, poor bloke, so no one is trying to get rid of him.