My Mum and Dad came down from Turners Beach for the weekend to mind the boys, and Elf and I flew to Melbourne for another wedding. I don't know what it is about us that inspires weddings, but we have been to umpteen since ours. Marcus came with us to Verity and Glenn's when he was five weeks old, then backed up at Joe and Jill's the following weekend, way up the east coast at St Marys.
As it is Dad's 70th birthday on the 11th, we had Sally and Matt around for a big family dinner. I cooked big atlantic salmon steaks. They were expensive but worth it because they are a) incredibly tasty for all ages and b) impossible to muck up. I fried up some scallops and oysters in butter and garlic for entree for Dad and I - no-one else was interested in eating squishy invertebrates. They were mouth-wateringly good and I don't think I can wait for another special occasion - I might have to just treat myself to some more one of these days.
This wedding was John and Carmen's. It was special for me as John has been my mate since we were sixteen, when we discovered our shared interest in The Cure, beer and shouting. One my happiest memories is the day I came home from a difficult backpacking trip to South America, when I was 20. It was a great experience, but I'd been living on pennies for weeks, encountered all the usual backpacker problems, and been very homesick. I got a cab to John's house, and in no time we were at the pub, playing pool, watching Dean Jones tonk a one-day ton on the telly, and eating steamed dim sims with soy sauce. I think Hunters and Collectors were on the juke box. It was a miracle cure.
Carmen and her three daughters are a perfect fit for John. They have just as much energy, creativity and lust for life as he does, and they will waste no time in telling him when he's being a goose. If he cuts a hole in a box, puts it on his head and talks through it like a newsreader, he will get the pummeling he deserves from his new family. He has been adopted by the whole extended Maltese tribe and is obviously a big hit with all of them.
John and Carmen chose Rupertswood near Sunbury for their wedding. Its a big mansion with an imposing tower (crowded with cockatoos) built in 1874. It's is all very grand - it was the social hub of Victoria, lots of hunting and grand balls. The chapel was once the main ballroom. There are glass panels painted with game and native wildlife, who I guess were possibly game as well. I've never seen a stained glass quoll before.
The service all went well, the principals were both a bit emotional but got through their lines. I saw a few tears from John when Carmen walked down the aisle. She was piped in and out of the chapel by a lone piper - who I think has terrific potential if he practices a bit more. John's father Ian presented Carmen with a tartan shawl and brooch to welcome her to the clan.
The photographer's phone rang during the service - he should have handed in his lenses and quit the caper on the spot. In the pause between service and reception, we mooched happily about the stately verandahs with drinks, and imagined potting at rabbits from the cane armchairs. There were plenty of them (rabbits, not armchairs). Of course it would be a lot easier potting at armchairs. It was beautifully balmy. As the sun set, the wedding party jumped into cars to somehow get more photos. If the sun goes from the east coast to Perth in about 3 hours you wouldn't be able to outpace it in a rented Hyundai Getz. (Supplementary question - are Hyundai going to name any more cars after jazz saxophonists? I'd trade in the Subie for a Hyundai Coltrane.)
My old buddy Alex and his wife Suparna were there. Alex and I used to play cards with John and the best man, Michael, on Thursday nights at the Lord Newry in Fitzroy. I was formerly the Clumsiest Man In Tasmania, and had come to Melbourne to take the title of Clumsiest Man In Victoria (Metro) for a couple of years. (There was a guy at Horsham who held the Country title, he once accidentally demolished the Mechanics Institute). I would put my glass on the floor to avoid knocking it over while playing, and would always then kick it over. I took to doing it deliberately at the start of the night to get the whole business out of the way.
We had not met Suparna before their wedding (the last one we took Marcus to). Elf had not seen them since, and I had but only briefly, so we had a lot of yaffling to do to get to know her better. She is bright, pretty, opinionated and funny, and we like her a lot.
The reception was very musical. Carmen's older daughter Alana had written a song about her, that her middle daughter Elise sang a capella. It was an amazing display of confidence and sincerity from one so young. We expect to see her on Aussie Idol in a few years - or maybe she'll just skip the small-time and go straight to Hollywood. The band flicked the switch from "light noodling" to "high volume funk" and we hit the floor to impress the Maltese guests with our clunky Anglo-Saxon moves. I was mesmerised by Alex's exotic performance skills and didn't pay attention but I suspect Suparna can actually dance. I would describe Elf's style as "do few things but do them well".
Elf and I staggered tiredly away about midnight to our motel. In the morning we drove off to see Mt Macedon. The properties on the way up the mountain are very, very swank. Not new-money swank, but very Establishment swank. A typical ad in the real estate office window said things like "From the principal residence, stroll through groves of liquid amber, spruce, fir, oak, elm, cypress and willow to the summerhouse, or down a country lane lined with dogwoods to the tennis court..." After a sultry evening it had come over all icy. We drove to the top, saw the view and the giant war memorial cross, scampered back to the car, and drove to airport. Everything people say about Jetstar is true.
The boys were pretty good while we were away. Marcus and Grandma played about a dozen games of draughts. Michael was delighted to see us - Marcus was too, but pretended to be disappointed we'd come home.