apparently. It was in Cheltenham, it turns out. And it seems now to be called Â“Herring ShoesÂ” (or Â“Herrings ShoesÂ” with no apostrophe according to the shop canopy) And they call that progress.
I went to the wedding of a friend of StephÂ’s, which was in a barn near Oxford, but luckily one that was nicely decked out, rather than one full of cows and stuff, like where I imagine Jesus would have got married if heÂ’d ever found the right girl (but with such a perfect mother he didnÂ’t have a chance. Imagine it, Â“In my day you werenÂ’t only a virgin when you got married, you were still one when you had your first kidÂ”. No wonder he took to hanging around with prostitutes.)
Apart from the barn setting, the only slightly unusual aspect of the wedding was that, because the two families involved were of different religious persuasions, it was presided over by both a Christian Bishop (the Uncle of the groom) and a Jewish priest (or at least a Jewish bloke, not sure what his background was). Although undoubtedly erudite, the Bishop got on my nerves by emphasising the importance of God in relationships and also seemed to see marriage as something that is created only to create children and to remind us of GodÂ’s wrath if we do something wrong. He also told a slightly patronising story about how he used to preach at Cambridge University in the term time, but had a parish in lowly Hemel Hempstead in the holidays and seemed surprised that love was the same for the common people as it was for the intelligentsia. To be fair he did make some good points too and was keen to include examples that applied to both Christianity and Judaism.
The Jewish stuff all seemed a lot more casual (especially as the fella doing that part of the ceremony wasnÂ’t dressed in religious robes. Thinking about it, he might just have been a passerby who took a chance and no-one realised he wasn't meant to be there), but also more celebratory of love, rather than of God. But maybe IÂ’m only saying that because I am more inclined to be dismissive of the religion of my own upbringing, but more capable of being charmed by something that is more alien to me. In the same way that the Indian culture and religions seem so much better than our own to students on their year off.
But there was no call to plight troths in the Jewish bits. Instead they shared a glass of wine (showing the importance of alcohol in getting through any long term relationship) and then the bride circled the groom seven times, which apparently protects him from evil spirits. The evil spirits element annoyed me in the same way as the Christian stuff, but the actual enactment was rather romantic.
Not only was it pleasing to watch and nicely symbolic, there was also the jeopardy of whether the bride would miscount how many times sheÂ’d been round. If she ended up doing eight circles, would that scupper the whole thing, or would the groom be slightly more protected? Maybe if you do too many they start cancelling each other out.
As it happens she got it right. So no evil spirits will get the groom now.
Then best of all the groom stamped on the wine glass that they had drunk from (at least theoretically. I think they used a different one, cos they didnÂ’t want to break the nice one. How Jewish can you get?.
ThatÂ’s theatre. I think the Jewish stuff was better regardless of my own prejudice, but I am a firm believer that marriages should be about love rather than religion and be a celebration of the bride and groom, rather than the parents of either.
Then I got outrageously drunk for the second time this week and in doing so reminded myself that I am not always effusive and jolly when drunk. I can also become unpleasant and then behave like a petulant child. Luckily I was not alone in this and in the morning all was forgiven! Love conquers all. If only I'd been circled seven times I may have been saved from the evil spirits (which in this case was whisky, the kind of alcohol that breaks long term relationships!)