Sunday, 8 June 2008

The Problem With Polly

I married Polly on a sunshine and showers September Saturday in 1993, some two and a half years after I had first laid eyes on her. More than 200 people had travelled from all over the country and as far a field as America to share the day with us. The church, Holy Trinity, Wimbledon, was packed with friends, family and well-wishers and I remember waiting thinking “Please turn up, please turn up”. She did of course, veiled and radiant, as beautiful as anything I'd ever seen, processing up the aisle on the arm of her father. When she reached me at at the altar she took my hand and squeezed it tightly, and in a sense, has never let it go since.


So what's the problem with Polly? Why was she prepared to throw her life away and marry a severely disabled person? What were the possibilities? She is incredibly ugly and therefore grateful that anyone would give her a second glance. Nope. At 24 Polly was lovely. Someone I knew said that if he'd seen her first things would have been different, he would have snapped her up. Polly, when I told her agreed things would have been different, he would never have seen her again. By the way, 15 years later she is still lovely.


Perhaps Polly is one of those women who writes to serial killers on death row and forms romantic attachments safe in the knowledge that she and her beau will never really be together. Nope. Polly had had previous relationships and as far as l know none of them required visitor passes or a full body cavity search. In short Polly was looking for a 'normal` relationship.


So obviously Polly was a deeply insecure woman, lacking in confidence and therefore pathetically thankful for any attention given to her, whatever the source. Nope. Don't forget, Polly had given up a secure job, gone to theatre school, and then moved to Romania for a year to work with the babies with no mummies and daddies. So no, she didn't lack confidence or self-esteem.

During the year Polly and I were engaged all these, and other theories, were speculated upon. Virtual strangers would accost Polly and demand to know if she'd thought through what she was doing. She was told she didn't have to marry me; we could just be friends and she could still look after me. Leaving aside the sagacity or impertinence of the actual advice it was the fact that people felt so free to voice their opinions directly to us. I understand that a degree of gossip was inevitable but it was the sense of being public property that bemused me.


I must say that our friends were wonderfully supportive. They knew us and if they had reservations they didn't feel obligated to direct our attention to them on the pretext of making sure we knew what we were doing.


The wedding went without a hitch. We remembered each others name, the best man did not lose the rings for comic affect, and the littlest bridesmaid remained cute throughout. After the service we processed through the rain, Romanian style, complete with an accordion player leading the way, the few hundred yards to the Methodist Church round the corner where the reception was to be held. Polly had decided

on an afternoon tea theme, and so tables laden with cakes and sandwiches awaited us, as well as a spectacular and beautiful three tier wedding cake. A quartet played in the corner and despite, or perhaps because of, the lack of alcohol the atmosphere was warm and vibrant. My best man, Kevin gave a funny speech at my expense and didn't mention how brave I am once. Despite there being a surfeit of. food Polly and I hardly got to eat a thing, there being so many people from so many facets of our lives to talk to. Eventually we had to leave. We were whisked away in a friends posh car (don't ask what kind, it had four wheels and smelt of leather). But we weren't finished yet.


As our reception was winding down another event was starting a few miles a way in Raynes Park. London

Lights was an event organised by Rob Frost and broadcast live by Premier Radio across London. Rob had asked us to 'pop' in and say hello. Since Rob often employed me as a writer and Polly as an actor (and because Rob was a friend and had been been at the wedding earlier) we could hardly say no. Over 300 people greeted us as once again we walked up an aisle. Singer/songwriter Paul

Field sang us a song and we were copiously covered in confetti. And then, to a standing ovation, we were on our way again.


Kevin and his partner Harvey were already at our flat and had unloaded a mother-lode of wedding presents. We had had a wedding list but I kept forgetting what was on it. I did know there was one thing that I felt we needed but was missed off the list. Which is how we ended up with seven Cafetieres.


That day was nearly 15 years ago. So, to all those people who were worried about us, I think it turned out all right. Of course we still had the honeymoon to come. What could possibly go wrong?