Well it appears pigs DO fly. Mrs R and I spent a lovely weekend in Lyme Regis, attending our first 'official' engagement as a married couple. Self-proclaimed perennial bachelor Pete and his missus Helen were tying the knot at a lovely little wedding ceremony.
The day had begun with a bit of a false start, followed closely by a Rippers-style tantrum. Having loaded up the car, laid out our formal wear neatly and settled into our seats, I realised that I had forgotten the car stereo. Despite a mad 15 minutes stomping through the house shouting at myself while Mrs R bravely tried to calm me down, we were unable to find the missing equipment and, loathe to travel such a distance without music, we had to empty the entire contents of the car and switch them to Millie, my wife's Nissan Micra.
Having battled the millions of drivers on the M5 setting off for the south coast to take advantage of some rare British sun, we still managed to arrive an hour and a half early and booked in at the Talbot Inn, a very nice little boozer in Uplyme just a stone's throw from the village hall where the reception and party was taking place. We had a comfortable little chalet at the back of the pub and quickly changed into our best togs for the occasion.
Meeting up with Scooby, who was the official wedding photographer, Mrs R drove us down the steep hill and into the winding streets of the centre of Lyme where people had flocked to celebrate the heatwave conditions. We managed to find a parking space easily enough and proceeded to St Michael's the Archangel church.
The ceremony was brief and enjoyable, though I felt a bit of a party pooper wearing a cream linen suit which virtually matched the groom's attire. Fortunately, I wasn't the only one. There were several others who had raided their summer wardrobe for the occasion and passing strangers could be forgiven for thinking it was some bizarre tribute to the nostalgic 70s drama series Randall and Hopkirk (deceased).
The vicar was one of those with-it, trendy types who waxed lyrical about the choice of the second hymn, and how we would enjoy it immensely. It was a happy, clappy little African spiritual number entitled This Little Light of Mine. Trouble was, though everyone knew the chorus on the basis that it repeated the title endlessly, when it came to the verses many couldn't quite grasp it. I was certainly a bit flummoxed by the tune and thought miming and mumbling would solve the problem - until I realised that everyone else had the same idea. Sorry, vic!
I must say the happy couple made everyone smile with their choice of music as they left the church. Only Mrs R looked a bit perplexed, if not a little upset.
I got to the bottom of this later on. "I thought it was a very funny way to end the ceremony, didn't you?" I asked.
"I'm not sure. I thought it was a bit rude really," she volunteered.
"Oh, come on. I think it was a really nice, lighthearted moment to play the theme tune from Monty Python's Flying Circus."
Mrs R's mouth turned into a round O. Then she revealed: "I thought it was Nellie the Elephant!"
After the ceremony we made our way back to the village hall, a beautiful setting with a local cricket game going on next door. The happy couple had adopted the Pigs Might Fly theme for the occasion, because both of them had professed they were unlikely to marry - ever. The cake contained little pink pigs in icing, with delicate wings fitted to them, while there were cut out flying pigs around the room.
The wedding breakfast was an all-you-can-eat cold buffet, which certainly appealed to Scooby. In the tradition of nearly every photographer I know, he piled into the food and was quickly back for seconds. Meanwhile, I was sipping water (there was no lager until the bar opened at around 6) while those around me - the builder, wife Wendy, Mrs R, Mungo and girlfriend Allison, not to mention Scooby - were getting stuck into bottles of red and white wine that had been provided for the tables. Looking around, it soon registered with my Jilly Golden-type acquaintances that there were a lot of tables which hadn't touched their bottles of wine. With Scooby's mobile home parked outside, he, Mungo and the Builder set off on a mission around the room, returning with arms laden with wine which was then transported back to the van for use later in the evening.
Meanwhile, the speeches were taking place on the top table. Helen's brother, who had given her away, took it all in his stride. Pete, however, opted to discard his notes and then managed to forget all the rules of etiquette associated with the groom's speech, which nearly caused an international incident (he had forgotten to present his mother's bouquet or praise his new wife for her radiance).
Helen spoke well, as befitted a teacher used to standing up in front of a bunch of adolescents, before best man and brother Robin managed to give us a full breakdown on Pete's experience with a number of the old bangers - sorry, vehicles - that his younger sibling had owned over the years, including the tale of how, only recently, Pete had driven off from a garage with the petrol hose still attached to his camper van. He was five miles down the road by the time he realised there was a long black pipe snaking behind him.
Pete's sister Wisidora (on account of the fact she used to play the witch of the same name in the children's programme) was busy organising volunteers to put away tables after the meal while, in keeping with the family theme, her husband David and his band took to the stage and turned out to be a resounding success. Like a cross between the Commitments and the Blues Brothers they had something for everyone and the dancefloor was packed before long.
The wine thieves, meanwhile, were starting to feel the effects of their actions. As the evening drew to a close the Builder took to the stage, grabbed the mic to shocked looks from the band, and expressed undying love for his wife. He then tried to force the disbelieving Mungo onto the stage and persuade him to propose to his girlfriend of 11 years. It just wasn't going to happen.
Eventually the Builder, with a head-dress of daisies balanced on his hairless bonce, was dragged from the stage and led away by his unimpressed wife.
A chaotic end to a great night and, though Mrs R and I were sent on ahead to see if the Talbot was still serving, with the pub in darkness we decided to call it a night.
On Sunday we wound our way back home, tired but happy. First, though, we had a stroll along the sea front in Lyme, then decided to return via Glastonbury in order to avoid the M5. We stopped off there for a nice lunch - I had chilli and rice, while Mrs R enjoyed nachos and mixed bean chilli. By the time we got back it was about 5.30pm and time for a lovely cup of tea, followed by a snooze on the sofa before viewing our wedding pictures for the first time courtesy of photographer Andy.