Of Marriage

It was finally here, the wedding weekend. There was a lot of stress on me on Thursday, I had an MR of my head to see if the brain lesions were in fact stable. It was nerve wracking although we’d try our very best for it not to, we all knew it could ruin the weekend. I was depressed for a week after the previous set back. There was a lot riding on it and fortunately the result was good, well good for me, the disease was stable. We could sit back and enjoy the weekend. I’d sent multiple messages to Georgie but I knew she wasn’t able to look at her phone until half four. However I was doing my best to send her positive thoughts. We had a good chat, with some Wolf of Wall Street chest bumping on the phone. We were winning again. Dabrafenib has bought time. By then I was in the car on the way home. Slightly delayed actually because I managed to leave the Marsden without my Dabrafenib by getting distracted on the phone to Dad. On the way home Georgie was seemingly texting back slowly, “perhaps I’ve done something” I thought. I was really happy but I wanted her to be celebrating with me. Mum was on her phone a lot on the back seat and I was getting a bit bored. I text Georgie asking if she was still planning to go to the fireworks night. Slow response “going soon xxxx” an hour later. Oh ok perhaps we won’t speak again that evening, I was knackered. Got home, took my bag upstairs and there was whispering downstairs. I asked Paul and Mum what they were talking about and the resounding answer was nothing. I went to the car to bring some more things in and glanced up to see a car unusual to the street, an old silver VW polo. I turned towards my Dad’s car, then looked back up towards the silver car. Something angelic was coming toward me. “Wa, wa, Whaat…. is Georgie doing here” raced through my mind. So confused, yet so happy! Completely utterly surprised. I couldn’t stop kissing her, I really wanted to celebrate with her and there she was! She’d been devious asking me earlier for my address in case she needed it the next day. Then liaising with Mum about what time we’d be back. She arrived just a few minutes after us driving from Northampton to Bristol.
I was pumped all evening. It was a perfect moment, ahead of the weekend we and the whole family had been talking about for months. I literally couldn’t be happier.

Friday morning was good, I was interviewed by BBC Bristol. The presenter was a stand in, as the normal presenter was on compassionate leave after his 22 year old daughter sadly died in a car accident. The stand in presenter was lovely, she asked nice open questions and let me say everything I wanted to say. Georgie and Dad who were sat inside the studio both felt it was the best interview yet. 

We went back home then went to help Dave and Alice set their wedding up. Alice had clearly gone to a lot of effort that Dave had not mentioned at all about all the table decorations and everything else. All the small things. She’d done them really well. Georgie completely embraced helping out, to the point where I was thinking she was getting ideas for her own wedding. It was a great chance to be creative and the whole space was converted into a wedding venue in three hours. 

After that we were starving, a real inate hunger. Most people from seeing Georgie’s slender frame would be rightly surprised how much she eats. Helped I guess partly due to being vegetarian. But it’s a diet that largely is consistent on 3 meals a day, with plenty of crisps in between. I rang ahead and Domino’s arrived when we got home. It was a bit of a rush as we were going to Kieran and Lucy’s wedding reception that evening, they’d married in Mexico only two weeks before and this was part of the occasion. It was a fun start to the weekend and it was an added chance to catch up with a lot of my closer friends, which I felt I may not get enough time for the next day. Kieran and Lucy had very generously asked people to donate to my Justgiving page instead of receiving wedding gifts. Georgie looked absolutely stunning in a dress she’d bought for the occasion, she was slightly disappointed as it didn’t cling to her in the right places, but with as subtle use of a safety pin, it was fine apparently. I thought she looked great before and after said adjustment. The line of the dress just hovered around her cleavage. In the car it sprung on me that I had very rarely seen this. Most of her clothes elegantly tucked her breasts away, without the definition being lost underneath. In the car we talked about how her parents were always against this, and Georgie had come to the same conclusion. It would be weird to talk to your parents with your breasts on show, so it should be weird to talk to anyone else too. It was good logic, and I love the way she dresses. 

The next day was the big one. The wedding actually was due to start later than most other weddings I’d attended. It suited us, it was a lazy morning spent in bed watching The Apprentice. Georgie was going to wear a green dress which I knew she’d look amazing in. Facebook had ruined these moments as as soon as she told me which dress she was planning to wear, I was like oh the one you wore at the Hurlingham Club for a preivous wedding. I was not disappointed, if anything she somehow looked better than the day before. I had lots of compliments at the wedding about this too. 

Dave and Alice’s wedding was at @Bristol science centre. Named when the @ symbol still seemed cool and modern. It’s actually where I did my year 11 work experience. The ceremony was in the planetarium. It also had the added benefit of having very comfortable slanted seats. Each speaker spoke with stars projected above their heads which gave it a really magical feel. Alice came in through an aisle of guests and looked beautiful. Her dress being one of the first she tried on. The lights were on for their wedding vows as apparently it’s a legal requirement to be married in good lighting so you can see who your future spouse is. Being Best Man I only had one responsibility, but instead of handing them the rings, I gave them the two boxes..opps. A very nice touch was left to the end when photos of them with friends and family were projected around the room. It was followed with a novel photography session while the whole congregation were allowed free rein over the interactive science exhibits. After this we had a drinks reception in the Aquarium. I was dettached from Georgie, and that’s what it felt like, I needed to be in the receiving line. It was an American tradition that Dave had borrowed for his wedding, it works well as a way for all the guests to meet/catch up with the people on the top table. The converation is perhaps a little forced, and having now been in one, I guess a little repetitive. After that we went to the main hall that we had kitted out the day before. It looked wonderful, loads of the congregation had beaten me there and it was a buzz of happiness. 

I started getting a little worried about my speech. The whole day was going so well I was wondering whether it would live up to the standard of the day. I’d started writing it all the way back in February whilst I was an inpatient. Not wanting to take any chances that I wouldn’t at least have some words read out or filmed for the big day. I had edited the orginal text a lot but held on to the first paragraph. The biggest edit occured when I tried to read it to my Mum realising there was a lot I couldn’t say. Then Chris Hay. But what made the speech what it was, was the many times I practiced it with Georgie and her somewhat blunt criticisms of the speech. It was because of her it was much more concise, funnier and I slowed down. Furthermore, suggesting where I should add bits of banter and toasting “Manning’s Mum”. The benefits of dating a speech and language therapist, and one who says her mind was apparent for all to see. I went on after Dave and the Father of the Bride. After seeing their speeches it was very obvious the crowd were lively but most importantly attentive and wanting their speakers to be successful. My speech went very well, with an eerie thoughtful silence afterwards. It was hard not to mention the cancer, so I hit it head on. Someone shouted “tell us a joke” and I did. The room gradually warmed up again, I raced over to Georgie, I needed a hug and when I arrived she looked like she certainly did too. 

Chris, the other Best Man started his speech, despite having read all of it, bar a few last minute alterations it was especially funny. My full seal laugh came out from the moment one of Dave’s Asian friends (I say that to make it more acceptable) shouted out “it’s because your foreign” when Chris said a line that he was only there so that in case the day didn’t work out he could get the blame. I was in bits, the audience was a little stunned, but with me and others laughing hysterically, as we knew their sense of humour, the audience quickly followed suit and laughed hysterically. The wedding was back in fun mode. Apart from complications with having pudding, I didn’t think about the big C for the rest of the day. The cake cutting was followed by Manning spontaneously break dancing and Bradshaw commentating. The wedding had it all. The Ceilidh band aptly called License to Ceilidh were very good, albeit did occasionally look exasperated at the dance floors attempt to follow their instructions. By the end it was a full on student night, with tops off and a very drunk Mark Walter. With young kids, his alcohol tolerance was very down. Dave, Alice, Georgie, I and, well the whole congregation absolutely loved the wedding with many people describing the day as fun, which is a fairly unique adjective for a wedding day.

The day after we woke up in the Bristol hotel, bright and early. Realising I could actually eat, we headed down to breakfast. We went for a lunch post wedding, the post weekend catch up is always great, be it a stag do, wedding or just big night out. These events lend themselves to daubachery and funny stories and it is always a chance to get the bigger picture of the day. Paul had slept in a stairwell. Georgie and I had a story of our own at 1am considering going to “Mr Wolf’s” nightclub when we were outside our hotel, waiting for Alice to get changed for the club. A bird pooed hitting both of us and another guy. If you’ve never had this phenomenon, which is oddly considered lucky, the realisation comes when you put your hand in poo. As it feels a bit like a warm splat on your head, one instantly rubs their hair to find out why. Poo sticks to your hand. I took this as a sign to finish the night there, Georgie wanted to carry on only removing the faeces in the morning. 

It was an exceptionally busy weekend. After this we met with a camerawoman from ITV for footage for Good Morning Britain. She seemed to want to only really speak with Dave and I despite Georgie being in the room. Then Mum and Dad afterwards. I went along with this for the sake of publicity, unsure why she hadn’t spoke to Georgie. We did a few scenes outside afterwards. Then raced back home for Grandad’s memorial. Disappointingly ITV didn’t play the footage. They have since sent me the footage and donated £200 to my Justgiving page.

Grandad, had died just 10 days before the wedding. At 94 with dementia you can’t say it was unexpected. I actually saw him the day before, he looked unwell but he’d looked like that in the past and somehow pulled through. Grandad had incredibly good genes. People say humble beginnings. Grandad was definitely poor. After his father killed himself his Mum was unable to look after both of her children and they ended up in an orphanage. So his life expectancy was probably absolutely terrrible at that time. But with a bit of blind perserverace Grandad lived a good, gentle, hardworking life. My memories of him are telling stories about him in the war. He had a reasonable time after his boat hit the rocks and spent months in Algeria whilst the ship was fixed. He loved sport, particularly slow sports and was a huge fan of Judd Trump, the Bristol snooker player. Although he was very confused when Georgie met him on his 94th birthday, he was just as pleasant and smiley as he was when he wasn’t confused. Yes he had his flaws but they were few and far between, he had a very good set of values and loved his wife, his daughters and all his Granchildren. The memorial was just right for him – so personal and so much about family. Paul, Matt, Mum and Dad had organised it all because they knew Dave and I had a lot on that weekend. Crucially it wasn’t a religious occasion, about the only thing that annoyed Grandad was religion, as far as I’m aware the cause of his father’s financial difficulties was him giving most of their cash away to the church. The service was emotional but it was a lovely occasion to be with most of the family to remember him. Overall, a jammed packed family weekend, which only thanks to Dabrafenib I was able to have


3 thoughts on “Of Marriage

  1. What you say, dear Mark, is that no matter what, life goes on. Cancer can’t kill your happiness and love. What you are passing trough is hell but you also received the most precious gifts in life: a wonderful loving caring family, with you all the time. And now in Georgie a true love, who gives you rest and peace, calm and love, reassurance and friendship. You are overall a blessed man. No matter what. Try to remember this in the dark hours. There are people out there that have never experienced the love you are experiencing…. You are always in our thoughts and prayer. xxxx


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