A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

A wedding, and afterwards.


If ever there was a good wedding this was it. The wedding, that is: the start to their honeymoon was to be less spectacularly enjoyable.

But to begin with the wedding itself.

True, the Registrar was a surly individual who gave every impression that he’d have liked to be anywhere but where he was and the office in which he conducted what seemed like quite a reduced ceremony was badly in need of brighter décor. A few flowers might have helped, or maybe the odd official smile. But the wedding was, in essence, made by the people who were there, and they, as a one, wished the bride and groom nothing but well. And that universal wish, if it could have been bottled, would have been worth all the tea in China. It calmed roughened nerves, added a lustre to the dimness of the surroundings and even seemed to jollify the corners of the registrar’s mouth.

His voice was well oiled. It had clearly been the one quality that officialdom had deemed essential in their Registrar if he was to conduct himself with due dignity was an oily voice.

Afterwards the small party (the only non-family persons there were Innocent Umbago, smartly dressed in a light coloured suit that contrasted pleasingly with his dark skin, and Amy’s second husband, Jess Templeman, who bordered on being family) gathered for a reception at Amy’s home, where a lavish buffet had been set out and covered with sheets of grease-proof paper in order to keep insects away from tempting morsels of food. Edina Hawkesbury was there, of course, in the correct role of Wallace’s birth mother, and in his eyes she was now most certainly in the category of family. Much to Wallace’s amusement she spent a great deal of the time in conversation with Innocent, who seemed to enjoy exchanging a wide variety of views with her.

Records were played on Amy’s record player and furniture was cleared out of the way so that there could be dancing, and there was dancing. It was the year 1961 and consequently a year or two before the explosion of exciting Liverpool music (headed by the Beatles, of course). But dancing was vigorous anyway, and records by both Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard dominated the evening. Afterwards, it was mooted that such dancing had never been seen before, especially that of Edina Hawkesbury (attempting a jive) with Innocent Umbago cavorting in a unique and very expressive leaping sort of dance of his own invention.

Maureen was a beautiful bride even though her being in what was called the family way was more than evident, no matter how she chose to dress. But her gown was white, had sparkly bits on it and had been her mother’s before the second world war. As for Wallace, he had hired a suit for the occasion (and hang the expense) and looked very much the suave young bridegroom he wanted to be seen to be.

At the end, around ten, it was time for the happy couple to change into more comfortable outfits and to bid farewell to family and friends as they were escorted to the railway station by a car trailing a string of old cans behind it. Innocent (tee-total then as ever) drove them in his own car, an elderly Ford Popular) as far as the near-deserted station, together with one suitcase containing all they would need for a few days’ honeymoon.

It was only the beginning of the nineteen sixties and there were still remnants of post-war prudence in the way Wallace and Maureen spent their money, even on such an important event as a honeymoon. So they were booked into a small hotel in Skegness, a seaside town on the East Coast where the winds from the North Sea could chill holidaymakers to the bone even in mid summer if conditions were right for bone-chilling.

It was midnight by the time they arrived at their destination and the hotel was locked, and all its windows were in darkness.

I’m sure this is the right place,” mumbled Wallace as he knocked on a door that rattled but showed no signs of being attended to.

You did tell them what time we’d get here?” asked Maureen, struggling against an aching back and the weariness brought on by a great deal of excitement and very little recent sleep.

I telephoned them,” confirmed Wallace, “they know it’s our wedding day and that we’re honeymooning here. I made sure of that.”

What time did you tell them to expect us?” asked Maureen.

I don’t think she asked me so maybe I didn’t say,” mumbled Wallace as it dawned on him that must be the essence of their problem, and in order to deafen his brain to self-blame he hammered on the door again, as hard as he dared.

And a dim light illuminated the dusty quarter lights above the door, and that door did eventually open.

There have been caricatures of small-town bed-and-breakfast landladies in many a comic sketch since then, but to the two standing on a door-step by a somewhat flaking hotel door the harridan facing them once the door was opened was quite a novelty.

What time do you call this?” it barked, a grotesquely hooked nose dribbling onto a protruding chin. The woman (if woman it was, gender was hard to determine but the voice had a hawkish female quality to it) glared at them through bottle-bottom lenses set into tortoise-shell spectacles.

What do you want at his hour?” she demanded.

We’re booked in,” Wallace told her, keeping his voice as polite as he could whilst he could detect Maureen suppressing a giggle next to him. He picked up their suitcase as though to push his way in.

Arrivals between four and six pm.” The voice squawked as if that was the most reasonable thing in the world for newly weds to do.

We were getting married,” Wallace told her, “and then we were being received by friends at our reception. Now we’re here for our honeymoon. I did explain on the phone.”

The nose in front of him moved from left to right and settled back on him again. The eyes behind the lenses seemed to swell, though even enlarged were pale and lifeless to his inexperienced mind.

Arrivals between four and six,” the harridan repeated, “and if you insist in trying to knock my door down I’ll call a policeman! And looking at you, even if you’d come at the correct hour you wouldn’t have gained admittance, what with your young lady being in that condition and not married for even a day yet! We have morals here, young man, good Christian morals.

I telephoned. I explained that we were honeymooning!” said Wallace, a little more sharply.

Well, you can explain all you like, young man, you’re not bringing that hussy into my establishment, and deposits are not refundable!”

And the door was slammed into their faces. Just like that. A dim light that had illuminated the quarter-lights above it was extinguished and two weary travellers complete with one suitcase were left standing on the doorstep.

And it started to rain.

Maybe I can help,” suggested a stranger’s voice from the darkness of a 1961 street.

© Peter Rogerson 09.07.19

© 2019 Peter Rogerson

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Added on July 9, 2019
Last Updated on July 9, 2019
Tags: Register office, Registrar, wedding, reception, honeymoon.



Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..