petite anglaise

May 22, 2008


Filed under: good time girl, knot tying — petiteanglaiseparis @ 1:13 pm

The non-hen night started off well enough.

I caught the Eurostar with my non-bridesmaid Meg. (Admittedly with only seconds to spare. If ever you make a date with Meg, it pays to factor in a degree of tardiness.) We sipped champagne and picked at our Eurostar lunch as we sped towards London under flinty skies. Every few minutes I put down my copy of Heat magazine, with a sigh, to field yet another text message from one of the attendees, wondering how on earth people ever made plans before the age of the mobile phone.

Our plan for the day included a lightning visit to TopShop, an afternoon rendez-vous at The Champion pub in Bayswater, a possible picnic in Kensington Gardens (which was looking increasingly unlikely as London approached and the clouds showed no sign of clearing) and, finally, an evening meet at The Walmer Castle, Notting Hill, for a Thai meal.

My friends had been warned that as this was a non-hen night, strippers, L-plates, chicken costumes, weird headgear, matching T-shirts or other horrorshow props were strictly prohibited. Several male friends had also been invited in an attempt to mitigate excesses of girliness. The only bacherlotte party tradition I did uphold was the Boy’s absence. He was safely on the other side of the English Channel, no doubt playing poker.

3pm saw me sitting on a balding Chaise Longue in The Champion, a pint of cider in my hand, surrounded by half a dozen of my closest friends. The picnic plan had been ditched, and we’d ordered a few snacks to mop up the alcohol instead. I was taking things slowly. All was well in my world.

Then my best friend from university, dismayed at the dismally slow progress I was making with my pint, returned from the bar to remedy the situation, carrying two shots (1 vodka, 1 Sambuca). At approximately the same time, Meg bought a bottle of wine for some random Dutch boys who had been quietly propping up the bar and asked them to do a little dance for me, in return. She then produced a handful of fluorescent mini feather boas, a hideous pink plastic necklace and a hair clip (with pink bow attached) and began to advance towards me.

I raised the first of the two shot glasses to my mouth. And the next five hours – from approximately 5pm until 10pm – are blank.

I’m told I ripped university friend’s top – and have seen photographic evidence to support this claim – but can summon up no memory of the occurrence whatsoever. I’m told I tipped over the back of the chaise longue, landing on the floor with my legs in the air. Again, this feels true, but I have only a vague recollection of the feeling of smooth, cold tiles against my back – there is no visual memory at all.

And yet the photographs and videos I’ve seen show me looking tipsy but functional: sitting, standing, walking, talking, laughing (and drinking). It’s as though the lights were on, but there was no one home. My body switched onto autopilot, ceased to record anything, and partied on without me.

I ‘came to’ in the Thai restaurant and the rest of the night, which ended around 3 am, I recollect with perfect clarity.

On the Eurostar home, Meg obligingly filled in my memory gaps, prompting several ‘Oh no, please say I didn’t’s and a multitude of groans. The only advantage of not remembering was that it was virtually impossible to feel ashamed of my behaviour. What happens in the black hole, stays in the black hole, and frankly it might as well all have happened to someone else.

‘Your mission at the wedding, should you choose to accept it,’ I said when she had finished, ‘is to ensure my glass is never filled.’

April 2, 2008


Filed under: knot tying — petiteanglaiseparis @ 9:33 am

When I asked The Boy to marry me, we decided that if we were going to do this thing, we’d do it our way. That essentially involved taking the bits we liked (clothes, jewellery, party), leaving the bits we didn’t (sugared almonds, seating plans, speeches, name changes, wedding lists filled with fine china and solid silver salt and pepper pots) and making a few practical decisions (marriage contract – séparation des biens – at The Boy’s behest).

Nine weeks away from Jour J, things are on their way to being organised, although not half as much as the super-secretary I once was would secretly like. I have a dress. He’s ordered a suit. We have rings on order. I still need shoes (red, I think). The evening party venue – a house borrowed from a friend – is being renovated and is currently, ahem, not quite finished. We haven’t yet settled on a restaurant for lunch (although we are testing a candidate this evening) or worked out where to drink champagne beforehand. I have no idea who will tame my hair into a chignon at the crack of dawn so that I can get to the Mairie on time, and the invitations are still work in progress in photoshop.

To my horror, I’ve recently found myself having heated discussions with The Boy about petty things like wedding gifts, when it became evident that our mix and match approach was, in some respects, flawed. Our first instinct was to say that we didn’t want gifts at all. Until we find a new place to live (and frankly, right now, I have no time to look), we don’t have an inch of extra space. And we don’t really need anything. But then guests started asking about wedding lists, and I realised that they’d like to make a gesture. And in return for all the things we’ll be laying on, I grudgingly came to the conclusion that it made sense to let them.

‘Well, we could have an urn,’ suggested The Boy. ‘Or do the jarretière? Just don’t ask me to pick out knives, forks and spoons. Anything but that…’

I wondered how gifts and garters could be related. Google, as always, provided the answer.

It is customary, I read, for a French bride to wear a garter. Often a blue and white garter, as the something old/new/borrowed/blue tradition appears to exist on both sides of the English Channel. (I was planning to ignore this.) What I didn’t know was that there is a tradition involving male guests tucking money into said garter, in exchange, in some circles, for the bride raising her dress, just a little, in exchange for every donation. Sometimes the female guests will put in counter bids, thereby enabling the bride to lower her skirt before things get too graphic. The Boy seemed to think that the whole thing usually ends with one of the male guests – the highest bidder – removing the jarrettière with his teeth.

I suspect the boundaries of his own fantasies and French tradition became a little blurred at that point.

‘There is no way I’m performing some sort of wedding strip tease!’ I said indignantly. ‘And anyway, my skirt is already just above the knee, and you know how sensitive I am about my thighs.’

We settled on a honeymoon holiday fund at Printemps instead, that people are free to contribute to, or not, as they wish. And as for the garter, The Boy will just have to wait until Jour J to find out whether I’ll be wearing one.

But if I do, it will be for his eyes only.

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