Weddings are a wonderful opportunity to meet new people. Especially if you’re not invited to one and turn up anyway. You don’t know anyone and they’re all really interested in knowing who you are.
“Who are you?” they’ll ask. “Who am I? I’m a contained creative, trapped in a suit and tie, dogmatic framework that so many of us know as the rat race. But inside, let me tell you, there’s so much creative energy waiting to burst out. Like you, I may be waiting for my calling in life, my opportunity. One day I may soar like an eagle, free from the invisible shackles that bind me to the phrases of subrogation, underinsurance, exclusions and can I pop you on hold while I read your file. I’m a Ronin, I’m a man of many hats, I’m a young and vibrant thirty three year old who is trapped under the forehead of a fifty year old man. I’m a man who longs to see more of the world with the woman he loves; a man who longs for contentment in this cruel and difficult world. That, my friend is merely scraping the surface but still a very small glimpse of who…. I… am”
There is silence as they take it all in. Charisma sometimes does that. It intimidates people.
“No, are you on the bride or groom’s side?”
“Oh, neither. Where’s the buffet?”
But sometimes, I do get invited to weddings and even then I get to meet new and interesting people.
I was recently at a wedding I was invited to, where I met a very nice chap indeed called Phil and his other half. Now this man was already someone for me to be a little bit jealous of. Why? Well, you see he had choice. Choice that I don’t have! I’ve never had this choice. It was a double whammy. This guy not only had very long hair, he also had a very aggressive beard. It was predatory. Not in a sexual or other untoward predatory way, in a GRRRRR Spartan kind of way!
If he wanted short hair, long hair, a choice of partings, the choice to have dredds or a perm or even a mullet, he could. If he wanted a beard that could house an Eastern European family whilst crossing an illegal border, then damn it, he could. If he wanted a tash, a goatie or even massive fat muttonchops, it was all out there for him to do. He had that choice!!
But I didn’t hold this against him. I wasn’t going to show a jealous side of me. Mainly because I’m pretty sure that the boiled egg look IS going to take off and when it does, boom! I’ll be the one on the cover of Hunky, fashionable Dudley based men monthly magazine. It’s a fashion magazine by the way, not some kind of gay mag.
So I gave this guy a chance. He had a good energy about him and sure enough he was a good banter! Mrs Grump and I warmed to this lovely couple. Which is rare. We usually sit there hissing at anyone who comes within several feet of us.
As the conversation progressed we discovered that Phil and I grew up merely streets away from each other and we are the same age. I say streets away, it was probably a mile and a half but relatively speaking, from where I am and where you are reading this now, it’s probably a lot closer.
Naturally, the conversation lead to which school we went to. I told him. St Huberts primary school and Hagley RC High for my exemplary secondary education. (Don’t want to brag, 7 GCSE’s including a D in art.)
“You must know Andrew Cuthbert!” he says. My mind is churning through the deepest darkest depths of my school education. The cobwebs and dust of distant memories disturbed as I go through all the faces of my school years, searching for Andrew, Andy, And, Cuthbert, Cuthers, Bert. Alas nothing is coming to mind.
“I’m not sure,” I say. My new pal then insists that his friend, Andrew, did go to the same school as me. Might have been in the year below. Definitely primary school and maybe even secondary. My mind starts to wonder again. Year above, year below. More cobwebs and dust in the memory banks are disturbed.
I say his name over and over in my mind. Then the penny dropped. Yes, I knew that name. I knew Andrew Cuthbert. I knew Andrew Cuthbert. Ah, how could I forget? Of course! Cuthbert!
“He’s really tall now, over six foot.” Wow, if it’s the chap I was thinking of, then he must have grown by at least three feet between the age of sixteen, when I last saw him, until now.
“Got a couple of kids now!” Ah, that’s nice. Always glad to hear that people have done well in their lives. Became family people. Not only has he had an amazing, unheard of growth spurt in his very late teens, he’s also become a family man. Good luck to him. Good old, Cuthbert as I remember him.
Meanwhile, my hairy friend is dropping Cuthers a text.
“Was he in the air cadets I ask?”
“I think he was!”
“The one in Langley?”
“He might have been.”
“Wow, small world,” I said.
Yes I know who he is now. I know the Andy who was a year above me at both schools and went to air cadets with my cousins. Mission accomplished. I know this man!
He then shows me a picture of good old Cuthy on Facebook. I don’t recognise the face I’m looking at. But then again, he’s had a huge growth spurt. His features may have changed along with his hair and eye colour.
Okay so this Andy, went to the same schools and same air cadets as the other Andy I was thinking of.
A little confused by the picture of the man I have just seen, I convince myself that I must know this chap. After all, it’s Andy Cuthbert! I remember Andy Cuthbert! Ah, great to see that he’s looking well. Still got the same sense of humour by the look of it. If there’s one thing And was notorious for, it was his great sense of humour and for thoroughly being liked by everyone! Yeah, he was a popular chap. Didn’t let it get to his head though. He was always cool with everyone. No ego trip. I’m sure I would have said, if I’d still been there at that time, that Cuthbert was the natural choice for head boy.
I was wracking my brain for some funny anecdotes to tell my furry friend when his phone buzzed. It was a text.
“How is he?”
“He says he didn’t go to either of those schools.”
“Didn’t he?” I ask a little disappointed.
“Well you did say at the start you weren’t sure,” added Mrs Grump who had been sitting there, witnessing her future husband start to have fond fake memories about a man he had never actually met.
It did little to appease me because I was now starting to wonder if any of the original faces I remembered were in fact, another Andrew Cuthbert. Who was Andrew Cuthbert?
In those few minutes, despite not initially recognising the name, seeing a face I didn’t recognise either and having clarification from the man himself that he didn’t go to the same schools as me, I still felt that I knew this man. Why?
Mrs Grump, my hairy friend and his lovely lady continued to talk amongst themselves. I sat there bemused, searching Facebook for an Andrew Cuthbert with mutual friends. I soon gave up and resided myself to the fact that I was a little delusional.
The bearded one then asks me a question.
“Did you go to school with John?”
P.S This is my 80th post and there is one particular Grumpyan who always shows his appreciation of my little rants. So I just want to show my appreciation of his appreciation because appreciation is something which I appreciate. Thank you Sam N’Murphy! When can we see some more of your cartoons!? It’s been too long! I also want to say thanks to the support from the very funny Gingerfightback. If you haven’t read his stuff yet, check him out!