Saturday the 30th of June, 2007. The day started out on a plus - I had the day off work so that I could make the wedding of my friend, the Ombudsman. It was important to go to as it would likely be the last time we saw him for months, as he takes up position in some far-flung school in outer-outer-outer NSW (or inner South Africa). I had, through the week, gone (shudder) clothes shopping to find a new shirt that didn't make me look like I had just come from a funeral. The arrangements were that I would pick up the St. Ives Correspondent's future wife and Mr. Rabbit, then we would all drive to the chapel.
Before leaving my house, I gathered the essentials: five dice, a deck of cards, The 18 Cup and my Lord of the Rings ring. I thought that, at the least, I would be entertained should the wedding prove to be a flop (not that there were any doubts with the studious planning of Mrs. Ombudsman and the absence of Mr. Ombudsman from that part of the wedding). The 18 Cup addition, really, was the only important this as we may be presented with an opportunity for a photo that rivals all others.
The evening before the day-of, however, the St. Ives Correspondent's future wife reported that she would be unable to attend, so it was left to Mr. Rabbit and myself to find our way there. I was glad to have someone helping me find the way, as my original plan (when I was driving myself) was to be pointed in the general direction from my driveway and leave two days prior. But, suffice to say, we arrived on time. Well, no, that's a lie. We were early. Very early. Around an hour. It was a great view and all from the carpark, but that can only sustain interest for so long. As can watching golfers (as The Coast golf course surrounded this chapel). So, we got a very strange breakfast (a bottle of V for myself, and a can of V and a Snickers bar for Mr. Rabbit) and then returned to the second carpark for the day. Lulling around, I realised that a parking spot of exactly the same potion, though the other side of the road, would be far more effective as I wouldn't have to do one of those pesky three-point-turns in front of a crowd (or witnesses should I hit another car/person/murder one of the occupants of the car). So I turned the car around in a single movement, and took that spot.
Mr. Rabbit and I watched as people arrived. We made quips and cynical jokes about passers by (as well as fellow wedding guests and people of administrative postions (i.e. violinists), as well as two rather strange characters - bikers who, no doubt, were doing some sort of drug exchange) to pass the time before Andrew and Pope Francious arrived (driven by their parents) and we met as a group. Conversations ensued, and eventually we decided that it would be warmer (as it was rather windy) inside the chapel. We moved into the waiting area, then, when we saw the Ombudsman and the St. Ives Correspondent (the best man) arrive, all four of us shuffled out to greet him. Andrew's mother (and father, who were loitering around to drive their sons to my house, where we would wait for the reception) pulled out her camera, and I quickly ran to the car - The 18 Cup! It was the only chance. Lined up, dressed in our finest, a pair of photos were snapped off, which will appear on here as soon as I've obtained a copy (quite possibly tomorrow).
Next it was time for the plebs to take their seats and the party to take up their positions. More conversations (and joking) ensued with the four commoners, while we waited for Mrs. Ombudsman to join Mr. Ombudsman and the St. Ives Correspondent up on the stage. To our surprise, the bridal party arrived in 1920s cars. Ford somethings (T's?). They appeared to have been driven right out of a mafia film, though, there were no mobsters hanging off the sides with guns. Andrew's father cased the cars as the first of millions of photos were taken.
Eventually Mrs. Ombudsman walked down the isle, words were exchanged and the end of the ceremony was upon us. After some egging on, Mr. Rabbit took some photos with his phone, then everyone moved out. As Mr. and Mrs. Ombudsman walked back down the isle, the official photographer said "Ok, when I count to three I want you both to throw your hands in the air. 1-2-3!" When this happened, Mrs. Ombudsman put her free hand up, and Mr. Ombudsman just kept walking with confusion written across his face, then, after prompting by the photographer once more, did some lame hand-movement which got us four laughing. This would become a running joke whenever someone took a photo.
Outside, congratulations were offered to the new couple, the five of us (no Ombudsman) had a conversation of sorts, then were ushered into a mob to get a big group photo. A normal (sane) photo was taken, followed by the photographer yelling over the wind "Ok, when I count to three I want you both to throw your hands in the air. 1-2-3!" Our group had a chuckle, then, when the moment came, threw up our hands with gusto. I would very much like to get a copy of that photo.
The time came to leave (after having a roll of film wasted on us to come to the end), upon which Mr. Rabbit, Andrew and Pope Francious all got a lift in my car. We headed home, then decided that it was time to get lunch and would do so at Revesby Workers Clubs. The idea was enticing, especially, because we were all suited up and would out-dress anyone there (a rare occurrence for some of the group). We went to the bistro, was told it was closed, then went to the cafe-type thing near to the ATMs, which are near to the poker machines. I ordered a club sandwich which came with an alarming amount of salad. When Andrew went to get drinks, I slipped a slice of cucumber under his chicken in the home he might accidentally eat eat (he didn't, thus reaffirming his commitment to never eat vegetables ... ever).
We had to find four hours to waste, and lunch and Mr. Rabbit's gambling only took up one and a half. We headed back to my house and played some Jin Rummy (with slight confusion, as everyone played to different rules). Suffice to say, Thomas won. Here we all decided, as well, that we would not be wearing ties to the reception. Thankfully Mr. Rabbit remembered to take his with him. The same can't be said of Andrew and the Pope, who in their collective wisdom, both thought that the other had it.
Finally it was time to go to the reception, which my father drove us all there (as I intended to drink at this party), dropped us off, and left. Once again, we were early. Around half an hour. We decided (after some arguing) that we would walk down to Bankstown Sports Club, not go in, turn around, and walk back. We had some strange looks from passers by - remembering that we were all dressed in suits, while myself and Andrew had gone so far as to wear waistcoats. This circuit wasted fifteen minutes, upon which we entered the room with other arriving guests.
The four of us were table 12, which would, come the end of the night, be renowned (and even called so by Mrs. Ombudsman) as the best table there. For once it felt like sitting at the cool table at school - something, I suspect, none of those seated at table 12 were privy to in their school days. Out of everyone at the table, only one (Andrew) was not a teacher or intending to be one. The three other ladies who sat at our table were, or had been, teachers at the Ombudsman's old school of employment (Nasser Hussein High School). We (Andrew and I, who were the only two who showed an interest in the stories that came from N.H.H.S. and hadn't taught there (the Pop doesn't care for stories of other people and hasn't taught there)) questioned some of the employees (current and former) as to whether the tales we heard from the Ombudsman were indeed true. We weren't exactly surprised to hear that they all were. Even an impression that this one lady did was a ringer for the Ombudsman's.
The entres came and went, then the Ombudsman's father came and talked to the renowned (as we would find out through the night as people came up and said to us "So you're the poker people", or things to that effect) poker group, and, after being informed that we are now avid 500 players, questioned us about the rules. You see, he is also an avid, and seasoned, 500 player. A nagging question would continue through the night, up until we all left - how do you play the joker in a misère hand?
The main meals came, and at that same time, entertainment (provided by various family members of the Ombudsman) came on as well. One was a magician/comedian. Our St. Ives Correspondent was called upon to help out with one trick, as was Mr. Rabbit. The show was rather interesting. Following this, however, was an extremely hilarious and entertaining comedian/impressionist (not the artist kind). He made so many rib-splitting, politically incorrect jokes about suburbs and CityRail and stereotypes and what-have-you. Of course, table 12 loved every minute of it, while some jokes were too pushing for others. One extremely entertaining part was when the St. Ives Correspondent was called upon to take part in a roller-coaster impression. The video of this can be found on Mr. Rabbits blog.
Food ended and music started. Mr. and Mrs. Ombudsman had their dance, which was very nice, then everyone else was invited to join. I pride myself on being a bad dancer. Wait, let me rephrase that: I pride myself on being an awful dancer. I make no bones about it - I can't dance. At least I'm not in denial about this sort of stuff, as I know others are about their singing voice or their dancing moves. So, knowing that I can't dance, though I'm an addict for making a scene, the question is: am I going to try and dance ok, or not at all, or go out and bust some horrible moves. Horrible moves it was. Mr. Rabbit informs me that the next video that may go up to his blog is of me dancing the Nutbush. I, on that night, had been drinking steadily, and hadn't danced the Nutbush for a long time, so I'm expecting to be just as bad in that video as I am in any other.
I blinded everyone with two dances, while Andrew and the Pope tried their moves with two of the ladies on table 12 (renowned and infamous at this point in the night for being the vocal table during the comedians and producing two atrocious dancers). I was more interest in socialising with Mr. Rabbit, St. Ives Correspondent and the Ombudsman, knowing full well that this was the last time. And then the whole severity of the situation finally caught me - the Ombudsman was going. This will, no doubt, lead into a much more depressing tone and post if I continue with it (as it's still something I find quite sad), so I shan't be going on. We discussed the day's events, how the photos in the city (by the Opera House I believe) went, as well as what we had all noticed, and observations that we had been making, through the course of the reception. Good laughs and conversations took place between us all, which really brought the evening to a great ending.
As the night drew to a close, I called for my lift (which was also Mr. Rabbit's and the St. Ives Correspondent's). I wished Mrs. Ombudsman the best of luck and gave her my congratulations, then Mr. Ombudsman a few times on the way out. Quickly I stole the number 12 sign from our table, gathered our free photo frame and my name-place, my jacket and we headed out. Misty-eyed I, along with the St. Ives Correspondent, waved the happy couple, and our friends, goodbye.
It was an excellent wedding, and the first I wasn't obliged to go to because of a family association. It was the wedding of my friend, and I was in attendance with my other friends. It was a great night, and a wonderful experience. I know it's something I'm going to remember for some time for two reason. I see this as some sort of 'coming of age' thing: the first of my friends has got married (and the second is very soon I hear). Secondly, and the main reason for the night being quite 'special', because it was the last hurray and farewell for our greatest of friends: the Ombudsman.