It’s Saturday morning, coming up for 10am and I’m sat in the leopald Hotel in Sheffield, getting ready for Leon’s wedding. Leon is a friend from school that I was best mates with back in the day. He went to Uni here when he turned 18 to study to become a doctor. Seven years later, by the time that everyone else he’d gone to school with had been working for at least 3 years (or nine years in my case) he finished education and decided to stay in the city.
We’re all 31 now and four years ago Leon met his now-fiancee, soon-to-be-wife whilst working in the NHS. It’s a sad reflection of how our friendship has drifted apart that I have never met her, but it’s also indicative of how much Leon, Alan and I all think of each other in that we are to be seated on the top table with the bride and groom.
It’s a strange day. I don’t have many friends, which isn’t meant to be as melancholy as it sounds. The friends that I do have are generally people I would trust my life with, and Leon falls under that umbrella, along with his immediate family who have always been there for me (in fact, his mum and dad are like parents to me, which again is a sad reflection on me as I rarely make the effort to see them) and perhaps three or four others in my life.
Sheffield is a nice enough place. I came up here about 12 years ago to see Leon, and the place seems to have changed immeasurably since then. It took three hours to get from Chelmsford to Sheffield, and then 45 minutes to get from the outskirts of Sheffield to the centre where the hotel is, partly due to traffic but mainly due to the fact that the road layout has changed completely recently, so sat navs are useless, constantly trying to lead you the wrong way down one way streets and up bus lanes, and through to roads that no longer exist. Once we got to the hotel, which was definitely more luck than judgement, we were told that the car park was a public access car park that the hotel uses which was, and this is in no way an exaggeration, a 5 minute walk or, thanks to the terrible one way system, a 3 mile, 15 minute drive.
Alan and I are getting along ok, which is good. We are best mates, but living in each others pockets for a couple of days has caused friction in the past though we seem to be at a stage now where we accept whatever is bugging us and get on with things. We’re sharing a room to save on costs, and I have to say it’s one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed, and at just £55 each for two nights it’s brilliant value. Alan was over the moon that the room had an iPod speaker / charger and as such we’ve been treated to an array of musical tastes, from Kate Bush to the Beatles and Coldplay, as well as some weird song about swimming pools which Alan seems to like by a band I’ve only vaguely heard of.
Apparently my snoring kept him awake last night, and as such, after being shouted at three times, I got up at 6am, had a bath and then fucked off to town for a couple of hours to let the princess have her sleep (I say that in jest, knowing that in a month or two Alan will be reading this – hi Al!) I’ve also acquiesced to the fact that if he pulls tonight I will sleep in the bath. This was an easy thing to agree to as there are almost no single women coming to the wedding, and I think he has next to no chance of getting up to anything, bless him.
The wedding starts at 3pm today and having gone out for a meal last night with Leon, I know he’s nervous. My natural instinct is to tell him how I was feeling when I got married, but after starting a sentence with “When I got married” for the third time in a row last night I caught how boring I was and stopped from there. My experiences aren’t going to make him feel any less nervous, and besides, my marriage isn’t exactly a shining beacon of all things that are good, is it?
Alan is reading a poem at the service, at Leon’s request. Leon asked me, via email, if I would read one too, but then put a line in the email saying that he knows I hate public speaking and would understand if I didn’t want to. I replied back saying that yes, I hate public speaking, and given the choice would rather not, but also explained that it was his day, he was a good friend and that I’d do a reading if he wanted me to. Suffice to say that as a result I’m not doing one, which I’m equally pleased and disappointed about. Alan, by the way, is reading “When you are old” by Yeats.
I’ve just realised what a rambling post this is. The wedding is at 3pm, and I’m literally waiting for a text to tell us to get to Leon’s house, so I have time to ramble, but instead I think I’m going to check my email and piss about online instead.