I was talking to a mum in the school playground (actually she was talking AT me, I just happened to be the closest living being with ears - hmmm actually don't all living beings have ears? Trees don't. But is a tree a living being? More like a living object? What about a caterpillar, do they have ears? I suppose that would be called a living creature). Anyway, she couldn't wait to tell me that she had found the perfect dress and it had only cost her £2000. £2000! She's been with the bloke for 10 years already, she's got children, and a mortgage (and let's be honest, a fat arse) and she's getting married on a beach! If that were me I'd be all sweaty and sandy and squinty and I certainly want to be in two thousand pounds worth of fabric. Surely a tenner would cover the essential bits of your body? Couldn't she find something more worth while to spend two grand on? Like two months rent on a luxury flat where she could escape from her children and read magazines in silence. Or maybe a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel called Pepe? She could even hire a man-butler to answer her front door, prepare her tea and call her M'Lady?
But then again I've never been the type of person to dream about getting married and what type of wedding I would have or the dress I would wear. Thank The Lord I wasn't a gypsy, the traveling community would have been woefully disappointed with my lack of vision.
Naturally after a few tatty petticoats, there wasn't a hope in hell's chance that I'd take my mum's old wedding dress off for the entire school summer holiday. For 6 weeks of humid days and balmy evenings, I paraded up and down my street in it walking my Dutch rabbit Sooty on her lead. How regal I felt dragging yards of lace behind me in the dirt. Poor Sooty's walkie-time adventures came to a bad end I'm sorry to say - a story for another time. My play mate Becky who lived next door was so green with envy that she badgered her mum to pass down her wedding dress. Her poor mother obviously felt the pressure because sure enough, there were two brides in over-sized sacrificed dresses the following week. That was probably the first ever incident of Trash the Dress and we didn't even notice nor care.
I wore the dress during teatime and afterwards to meet the gang on the street corner for the hour before bedtime when we'd play knock-down-ginger. For those not in the know, a game which involved banging on your neighbours' front door and then scarpering before you were caught and dragged back to your parents for a rollocking (and god forbid sworn to make it up by doing bob-a-jobs). Admittedly it wasn't the most practical wear for a speedy getaway, the 10 foot lace train was a little hindering and collected a lot of debris and sticks along the way.
By the time school started again in September, all my desires to dress up in wedding wear were exhausted. The dress was ripped to shreds and the once white silk and taffeta was unrecognisable, no doubt it was laid to rest in the dustbin by my remorseful mother. From the first day of the new school year in Miss D'Silva's Year 1 class, it never even occurred to me to fantasise about weddings or marriage ever again, at least not for the next 26 years until the day Ben proposed and all anyone was interested in was 'What's your dress like?'
The horrific realisation that I actually had to find a suitable bride-like dress and then wear it for 14 hours didn't really hit home until 6 weeks before the wedding. I had tried on every wedding dress going. None of them felt right, none of them looked like me. I settled on one of course. I had to. I had it re-worked, re-stitched, re-shaped and would have been returned but the day of the wedding had come and I had run out of time. I loved my wedding day, but I felt very odd in my dress. I was cross with myself for having 32 years to decide on a dress and so why did I leave it til 6 weeks before? I think I'll blame my teacher Miss D'Silva, as from that first day in my Year 1 class, and for many years after, my young brain was all consumed by the baffling mystery of why a lovely young primary school teacher, who looked like a woman, would be called Mr Silver.