Hello I am back, and the person formally known as Wren, my girlfriend, is now my wife and hereforeto to be known as Mrs Rippers. It was a stylish wedding, we could afford the carriage (well, a very nice old vintage car anyway) and the weather was fantastic. Which was exactly what we needed seeing as we had booked the Avon Gorge Hotel in Clifton, Bristol, for the nuptials.
The build-up was fab, too, as I dragged the best man, otherwise known as the Wonderful Withers of WoS, along to see the end of season goalfest that was the Gas against Hartlepool in a crucial, middle of League One, duel - the last game of the season at the Mem. Rovers obliged with a 4-1 win which even Withers - used to such glossy football as played by Crewe Alexandra - accepted was a decent game.
After that, while Wren (I will call her that as we weren't married at this stage) was left to deal with my daughter the Fat Kid and her lovely children Vin Monster and Big Boy, along with an assortment of relatives from all corners of the globe, Withers and I popped in on my dad and stepmum Jean to find out all was not well in the house of Rippers Senior.
I was greeted at the door by my dad with a hand that had swelled up to the kind of proportions by which it faintly resembled one of those foam gloves you wear when shouting Go Yankees at the Baseball. He was unaware of the actual cause of this mutation but looked very sorry for himself with his arm in a sling. Jean meanwhile has been having problems for some time with her health and had already warned us of her apology for not being able to attend our fab day.
It was a bit of a shock to the system but once dad assured me he would be ok to attend it was on to check in at the hotel and have a couple of gentle pints and a bite to eat with the best man before settling in to watch Match of the Day and then the comic show carnage that is WWF wresting. What an exciting last day of freedom!
It was made worse when a slurry Wren rang to inform me that her and her co-conspirators the Fat Kid, her mate Carly and chief bridesmaid Up and at em Emma (of which, more later) were tucking into yet another bottle of bubbly. Shurely the roles had been reversed a bit too much.
The next day dawned bright and early and the Wonderful One and I took the opportunity to speedily get dressed in our suits and head for the lobby to greet any early guests. Or, rather, we lazed about watching the Andrew Marr politics show without a care in the world. We knew that at that stage there would be absolute pandemonium in the Wren house with so many people to get ready and so little time. Make up and hair was already being done, showers taken, breakfast eaten and more champagne to be drunk. Plus, probably the hardest job of the lot, trying to get the Big Boy into his suit seeing as he had probably grown enormously in the two weeks since he had been fitted for it.
Anyway, a stroll down for a roll up and a jog across the road for the papers to read about the glorious win which enabled the Gas to finish a lofty 11th in the division, was the most exercise the Wonderful One and I managed before 11. And in the reception there was already one guest waiting. Scooby had cadged a lift with the wedding photographer and was waiting in the lobby, suit in hand and bongo drums in rucksack. "Thought your guests might like some entertainment," he offered, forgetting the fact that Wren and I had already shelled out a fortune on a barbecue/disco and already had the music planned for the ceremony.
Still, Scooby did come in useful for other matters. Withers discovered his dress shirt had no holes for his cufflinks to go into, for instance, so Scoobs was quick to disappear downstairs and return with the kitchen's sharpest implement before butchering said shirt and allowing the Wonderful One to do it up.
Then there was the small matter of the buttonholes, a nightmare for any Alpha Male whose closest link to flowers only comes when purchasing the real ale of the same name. Well done, Scoobs, we salute you.
After that he also managed to calm my nerves, which I have to say were starting to rise with every passing minute, by buying me a much-needed Jack Daniels and Coke. We retired to the beer garden to drink it.
As others joined us like my pal the Silver Fox from London and wife Pippa, my ushers Jarhead (Roberts and the Fugitive in previous lives you may recall) and the Builder and Shutts, looking taller than I have ever seen him, we started getting into the spirit of things.
Then came a scare. Wandering through the lobby I looked at the entrance doorway and noticed out of the corner of my eye the bride's mother walking through the doors. My God she's here and I am not allowed to see her, I lamented, then panicked, taking the stairs two at a time to enter the Riverside Room where the ceremony was to take place. I then quickly called the ushers, who gathered everyone to the room.
In doing this, I had completely forgotten that Wren's mum was scheduled to arrive a good 15 to 20 minutes before the bride. I could see the faces looking at me puzzled, wondering: "Why have we taken our places so early?"
Even so it was nice to chat with the assorted guests and when the registrar arrived and told me that my bride to be looked 'gorgeous" I must admit the full impact of what I was about to do struck me right between the eyes.
Wren and I had chosen some unique music for the occasion. When the opening drum beat of "Here come the Girls" the original version, not that abomination by the Sugar Babes, struck up there was a titter around the audience, but that was what we'd hoped. And then I set eyes on Wren for the first time, in a beautiful ivory dress and veil (don't ask me to describe it, though, I am not the Mail's royal correspondent). As we sports reporters might say, though, it was a tidy
When Wren arrived next to me I was bursting with pride and had to tell her she looked beautiful. She thought I scrubbed up quite nicely, too.
Then to the ceremony which was brief and to-the-point but very nice, with some lovely words from the registrar.
The hiccup came when Wren had to read her vows by looking into my eyes. I couldn't help wondering what would happen if I made a stupid face at her, baring my teeth like some kind of cross-eyed chipmunk, and just the thought of me sent me into giggles which I found hard to contain. People were looking at each other, wondering what on earth was wrong with me, I'm sure. Fair play to Wren, though. She never waivered. There was one slight glitch however when she went to put the ring on my finger and the registrar Siobhan, joining in with the comedy spirit of things, said: "It is customary to place it on his other hand, but I guess it doesn't really matter."
Then it was a quick invitation to kiss the bride and the signing of the register to "All I want is you", the opening track on the Juno album which many of my avid readers might better recall as the advert for the National Lottery in which a couple strip off and jump starkers into the sea.
After that it was plain sailing and we left the ceremony to the refrain of "Have A Nice Day" by
I thought that was the time to relax but the now Mrs Rippers ushered me downstairs into the wedding car and we set off for a journey around Bristol Downs. It was as we were travelling down the road I had a quick thought: "If we carry straight on here we can look in on Jean," I suggested. My new wife was more than happy with the suggestion so the residents of Redcliffe were probably shocked to see a bride in full gown and veil walking along the footpath at my parents' block of flats and ringing the doorbell. Glad to say that no only was Jean in, but she was thrilled to see us and it was one of the most worthwhile five minutes of the whole day to see her delighted and surprised face.
Back to the hotel then for wedding pictures on the green in front of the bridge and then all the group shots in a private garden behind the hotel.
This all takes time though, and it felt like there wasn't a minute to spare as we hurried the guests back up to the Riverside Room for the lunch and obligatory speeches. I must confess now that Wren had been having a few qualms about the wedding breakfast. "We're serving our guests Shepherd's Pie and roast chicken," she said rather worringly after seeing the initial menu. I had assured her it would be fine although inwardly feeling a mite concerned myself. Were we being cheapskates?
Thankfully it appears everyone really enjoyed it, particularly the pudding which I understand Andrew, father of the bride, enjoyed so much he managed to pinch mine as well while I was desperately trying to stop Big Boy eating the table cloths and cuttlery by trying to hurry up the distribution of childrens' meals.
Then it was time for the speeches, Lordy. At the back of my mind I knew my best man would have something in store for me. After all, isn't he the leading figure of mirth for me in most of my previous blog entries? Without Withers, I would have run out of stories of abject stupidity and merriment two years ago.
First, though, there was Amanda, mother of the bride, reading a poem and then father Andrew saying some nice and rather flattering words about yours truly (cheque is in the post).
Then it was Mrs Rippers' turn to start the comedy gold. "I'll keep this speech short," She told the patient guests. "Rippers makes me so happy and that's why I love him." Queue rapturous applause before she butted in with: "That's not it, I haven't finished."
She then weighed in with the fact that I must be a genius because, well, I tell her I am most of the time - thanks, love.
When I stood up I was relaxed and comfortable with things. And I told the audience that I knew Wren was the one the moment she agreed to watch the Gas play Chester City in a mediocre, middle of the table league two game. I then said I had a gift for her and bent down to retrieve it - only to find it wasn't there! Bugger. With embarrassment and accompanied by one of the biggest laughs of the day I shared my concern with the audience.
Now it was time for the main attraction and the Wonderful One, bless his cotton socks, didn't disappoint. He managed to focus all my golden virtues in a rather different light. My first meeting with the "quiet" Wren had not exactly been a chance encounter at a leaving do. I had actually molested her on the City Arms dancefloor while jumping up and down and singing along to the chorus of Senses Working Overtime (everyone knows I don't know the verses). As he succinctly put it what was Wren's response. Did she:
A. Call for the nearest bouncer to have me evicted.
B. File with the local court for a restraining order.
or C. Decide this was the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with?
Well we all know the answer, but putting it that way does make me wonder how we DID manage to make that trip up the aisle.
There were plenty of other stories which I won't bore you with here because, quite frankly, I've told them to most people a million times. But he finished with a classic by announcing he had actually had this blog PRINTED - in the form of a book - and it is now available for sale at he reasonable price of Six Quid and some pennies. Not sure of the link you need to buy it off the net but, rest assured, I will pass the info on shortly.
Well done, Withers, a fine job, though I don't know what my family or, indeed, Wren's will make of my stories of wild nights in The Yard, the City Arms and the new old O'Neill's. They have all vowed to buy a copy, though, which is a might worrying I must admit.
On to the evening do then and a fab time was had by all, I have been assured. It all went by in a bit of a rush for me, so much so that Mrs Rippers and I actually FORGOT to cut the cake. It is now sitting on the table in our front room waiting for us to return home from our honeymoon in Cuba.
Here are a few brief highlights, though:
* Our first dance was to The Smiths "There is a light that never goes out" hardly a slow one, which involved us spinning around in wacky circles pledging "If a ten ton truck crashes into us, to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die."
* Withers tried to forge my signature on a bar tab to get a round in and was hopelessly found out for his misdemeanor.
* The Prince of Darkness formed his own harem of the Witches of Eastwick, with three girls all converging on the Unearthly One. He did scoop one up in his cape and disappear to the nearest crypt with her, my spies tell me.
* The sight of Paps, having taken a thousand pictures in the night, strutting his stuff on the dancefloor like a skinhead skanking to reggae songs, with his braces on show for all to see. He was later demanding more drinks in the bar a la Withnail, with no thoughts of the fact that he would have "an early start" at work in a few days time.
* Dan the poipes, the poipes, keeping his poker face as he lied through his teeth about certain things. Also the fact he actually looked smart for a change, rather than wearing the weather-worn cords we are used to seeing him in at work.
* The Little Bowling Ball rolling up to me and announcing "Wathanovski just got into a fight in the bar and was ejected". This of course was such an exaggeration one would suggest it was a complete fabrication. Wathanovski was still there a few hours later having had a mild argument with some idiot who had managed to insult Shutts. Wathanovski 5ft 9ins or so, defending the 6ft 8ins man mountain? Shurely Shome Mishtake!
And finally... * Wren, myself, Stu and Kempy standing outside having a last fag at 3am. Kempy, just in case you were fooled, went to bed at 9pm, missed the whole evening, and only emerged at the end of the night. She did however take a picture of Wren in my suit jacket and myself in Wren's tiara.
Just to conclude... It was a brill day and me and Mrs Rippers appreciate everyone who made it such. The staff at the Avon Gorge, Andrew the Photographer, Scoobs for his video work, the Ushers, bridesmaids etc and the best man. Withers, I'll kill you.
As for the Chief Bridesmaid Up and At em Emma, she wants to run off with my grandson and, in true Madonna style, has offered a bribe to the Fat Kid. Of course, the Fat Kid is always susceptible to bribes so watch this space...