It’s been an eventful couple of days, and I know for a fact that the dust hasn’t settled yet. In the interests of my readers, however, I will tell you the Story So Far.
Our garden-rather-than-street party got off to a good start, and rather early for a bank holiday, notwithstanding the number of dog walkers in the village. A marquee had been put up so that the British weather could do what it liked and it wouldn’t matter, though in the event we might have been better off without one. Anyway, more of that later.
There were a lot of people there. The OH and I arrived around 10.30 so that I could see the Queen arrive as well as the actual wedding (I’m a bit of a monarchist, though not to the extent of standing for the national anthem) and the champagne and beer were already flowing. The OH had insisted on bringing a bottle of wine in spite of the fact that drinks were apparently included and judging by the state of the table on which he placed it, he was not the only one. Someone turned the volume up so that we could hear the commentary on the TV and be warned when it was time to face the screen, for the benefit of those who were really only there for the beer. The moment Kate stepped out of the car, there was bickering. Two young women (I hesitate to call them ladies), whose names I discovered in the course of things were Sharon and Vicky, began discussing the dress. Well, Sharon thought she was discussing it but clearly Vicky disagreed with her.
“Cor, look at all that lace. Is that Chantilly lace, like in the song?” was Sharon’s first contribution.
“Nah, that’s embroidery anglaise that is,” Vicky told her.
“No it’s never,” Sharon replied. “You wouldn’t recognise embroidery anglaise if it leapt out and bit you on the arse. You even got kicked out of fabric tech at school ‘cos you couldn’t thread a needle.” At which she cackled.
This response was not appropriate, from Vicky’s point of view. “How would you know? The only needles you have anything to do with are your junkie boyfriends’ needles.” (I’m assuming the criticism was of more than one boyfriend, but if either Vicky or Sharon would like to correct me once they’ve been released from custody, just leave a comment at the end of the entry.)
“I only had one boyfriend who ever did drugs and that was just coke. I’d have to be as stupid as you to get involved with a crack-addict.”
The end of Sharon’s riposte was almost lost in the general shushing from the rest of the audience who for some reason wanted to hear what the commentators were saying. Consequently, I missed the next few comments, but we were all able to hear the high point of the argument, as a table covered with bowls of apple sauce and peanuts crashed to ground under the combined weights of Sharon and Vicky, Vicky’s fist grappling with Sharon’s jaw, while Sharon’s knee was clearly working away at Vicky’s groin and her hands were trying to rip either clothes or hair from her assailant. A few friends tried to separate the two of them as they thrashed about in the increasingly sticky mess but it wasn’t until a resident ,who it later transpired was an off-duty policeman ,grabbed Vicky by the scruff of her neck and physically lifted her away from Sharon that the fight stopped, even temporarily.
“Lay off, you two, or I’ll go back on duty,” he warned them.
Sharon stood up rather shakily, rubbing her jaw and sulkily appeared to agree to stop the fight and Vicky manhandled the policeman’s hand from her clothing and took a step back. We were just about to turn and continue watching the wedding when she very noisily spat in Sharon’s direction and muttered ‘tramp’ loudly enough for all of us to hear, so Sharon definitely would have done. This was of course sufficient to begin the fight again, along with accusations of two-timing, thieving, drug-dealing and various other misdemeanours. All of this was too much for Chris, the policeman, so after detailing a few of the bigger men, including the Famous Writer who had been attending the party with his wife the Famous Journalist, to restrain and separate the two women, he headed off to call for back up. Which duly arrived and carted the two off for further questioning, but not until after the happy couple had left the church, so it was a rather disturbed ceremony from our point of view.
All of which would be more than enough for one village event, you might have thought, but too much alcohol early in the day in our village is just asking for trouble. I’d noticed the Famous Journalist when we first arrived, making disparaging remarks about ‘locals’ and dripping contempt, until you just knew that she was going to write an incredibly patronising piece about local yokels and the state of education. When the fight was being brought under control and the Famous Writer was one of those briefed to prevent Sharon from attacking either Vicky or the pig roast, I was vaguely aware that the Famous Journalist was no longer in sight, but I didn’t really think much of it after the carriage had driven away and we were starting to think about refilling glasses for a further toast. Verity was late arriving – as usual – teetering on her high heels across the patio and gritting her teeth every time the heel disappeared into the gap between the slabs, and she headed towards me.
“Have you seen Max anywhere?” she asked. “We’ve got an important lunch with one of the deputy lord lieutenants of the shire and I can’t find him. He was going to give that journalist woman a couple of quotes before we went and now he’s just disappeared.”
I looked around the marquee with her, also failing to spot Max, but at the same time failing to spot the journalist. “They’ve probably gone somewhere quieter for an interview,” I told her. “There was a spot of bother here,” and I indicated the collapsed table.
“Oh,” Verity said, rather quietly for her. “Good thinking.” She teetered off in the direction of the house but she had only just got past the exit flap when I heard a scream from her, followed by what sounded like a slap. Naturally we all listened.
“You bastard! First that Spanish bitch and now this! Well you can forget reconciliation this time, I want you and your things out of the house by the time I get back from lunch.”
At which point either Verity or Max must have pulled too hard on some part of the marquee, because that side of it collapsed and we were all able to see Max, with a red cheek and the Famous Journalist with her blouse undone and her tights around her knees. There was a collective gasp and the affected parties endeavoured to regain their dignity, without much success. Max stood there initially and then started to follow Verity, pleading to her departing back, and the Famous Journalist pulled her tights back up, revealing a pair of extremely practical panties, and then turned away, buttoning her blouse as she went. Most people started talking and refilling glasses once the spectacle was over, but I couldn’t help noticing the Famous Writer looking rather resigned to it all.
That was Friday. The rest of the lunch passed in a rather boring fashion in comparison, but Verity has not been back yet. I saw Max drive out of the village at around 3.30 as the OH and I walked back home; he was alone in his car but with a couple of his favourite paintings propped up on the back seat. Whether he’ll be back or not is up to Verity, wherever she is.