Sunday, 29 October 2006
Anyway if you want to have a look at it, the link is in the top left corner of this page. Its called The Scottish List and it is my take on things you should do, or taste, or visit if you ever come to Scotland. It's only got two items in the list so far, but give me a break it will grow - slowly.
Sunday, 1 October 2006
What’s a blog for if it can’t be used to get something selfishly off your chest? At this moment in time I can’t think of a use so I am going to use this blog for that very purpose. Yesterday, I sat through what was possibly the most boring event I have ever been to. And as I sat there, straining to stop myself from slipping off my chair and under the table, I suddenly managed to crystallise everything I hate into just two things: injustice and big weddings.
Yes, it’s true, I have a very low boredom threshold – OK, I’m impatient – but surely everyone’s patience would have been tested by 10 hours of speeches, small talk and ceremonies. I felt like a child, fidgeting through something really boring and getting that sharp look that your parents used to give you, which means something like this: sit up, shut up, or else. Except I’m 29. I wanted to have a tantrum and roll around on the floor – anything so I’d be sent home in disgrace.
Of course, weddings are more fun if you know the people getting married really well or there’s a coach-load of your friends there too, but that’s nothing to do with the wedding itself. Think about it. The emperor has no clothes on. And weddings are boring.
Some of them are incredibly self-indulgent, too. It’s bad enough that I have to hear allusions to the groom’s sexual past from the best man, but why do I have to gaze in awe at photos projected on a wall of the bride and groom when they were three? Why do I have to hear the details of their first date? Why do people want to bare their souls? Just get on with it. Please.
It’s not just the bride and groom who spoil weddings – the guests can be horrible too. We all know people who just go to fill their faces and get drunk – and then spend most of the evening complaining very loudly that there wasn’t enough food or drink. I seem to be sat next to this couple all too often. Why? I smile at the appropriate times, like I really want to be there when I don’t. I behave myself. So why stick me next to someone who is pre-designed to act like a jerk? Let’s see, could it perhaps be because neither the bride nor the groom know me well enough to put me at another table?
How can you possibly know all 600 people at your wedding? And why do all the women try to out-bling each other with their dresses, hats and diamonds? Less is more, girls. Where’s the quality control?
When done right Scottish weddings can be fun – the men arrive in kilts looking smartly dressed but without looking like the let’s-bring-out-the-old-suit-brigade. The music can be excellent making it an event where you can laugh and dance for hours, and then there are events like yesterday’s where the music is crap and it’s just a long, long slog until the end of the night. There is of course a lot of sitting and eating – two things I excel at. However, I’d prefer to do them on my comfort of my own home with people I know, not in the function room of some horrid hotel with nasty carpets and mock Tudor chairs, getting backache from holding a false smile on my face for six hours whilst listening to Mr & Mrs B. O. Ring tell stories about their Persian cat.
I consider myself a generous person I spend more money buying things for other people than I ever do on myself. In truth I don’t really like money, I enjoy spending money on others but even my generous spirit is challenged when faced with the wedding gift list. You used to be able to go to a wedding and spend the amount of money you thought appropriate on the couple. The amount you would spend on the couple’s gift would depend on how much you knew them. Now in the interest of not getting 10 toasters, 7 irons and 4 knife sets, the couple get together and make up a list of the items that they want, complete with prices. By the time you get your hands on this price list, after 400 other guests have got their grubby paws on it you are left with the – chopping board - £75.
£75 chopping board, you have to be kidding me, it looks like, strangely enough, a chopping board. At £75 I’d want it to get the vegetables out the fridge and the knives out of the knife block and do the chopping on its own, unaided with the help of man. In truth I don’t mind spending £75 on a present; I don’t mind spending even more than that, after all they invited me to their wedding. Ok so I might not have wanted to go in the first place but still they invited me to their big day, getting them a gift is the least I can do. It’s the idea that they have priced every item out, it takes away all the pleasure of buying the gift, knowing that the couple expected you to spend a predetermined amount.
When I was a kid and people asked me what I wanted for Christmas my answer would be ‘nothing!’ I didn’t want other people to spend money on me, but I would spend all the money I had on them, I was a strange kid in that I enjoyed buying for other people but felt guilty when they bought for me. I got much more joy from giving than I did receiving. When I got older and I realised that ‘nothing’ ended up as something more expensive than I intended, I thought I could get around that same question by looking up the catalogue and asking for the £6.99 Bullseye dartboard. Not that I wanted the Bullseye dartboard but then I didn’t want them to spend even more money on me either. As a kid I foolishly thought I could manipulate relatives into spending less, in reality they would get me the £6.99 dartboard and something else but they felt good about it.
Today peoples attitudes have changed somewhat to a ‘I want, I want, I want.’ It gets to the stage you just want to turn round and say ‘You’ll get what you are given!’
If one lesson was learned this weekend it was that I much prefer small weddings. If I ever get married, (not going to happen anytime soon since I’m single) I want mine to be a mercifully short, intimate do for 30. A small gathering of people that I know, people who I want to be there, no-one that comes under the category of a friend of a friend of a long distant relative that I have never seen other than being present at weddings and funerals. If my future wife wants to spend six months drowning in vast lists and worrying about cakes and cars, and seating plans then the relationship can only be doomed to failure and is the perfect reason for not getting married in the first place.