My friend (and long-time-ago ex boyfriend) Ian, is eccentric to say the least. He grew up on a farm which, as the only son, he was expected to take over when his father retired. As a young man however, he became fascinated with old motorcycles. He started collecting motorbike wrecks that he found in farm sheds all over the place and could pick up for a few shillings. In time he became known as the guy to go to when you wanted some rare part for an old British bike, and he started making more money from selling bike parts than he did from milking cows. The cows soon went out the window, the milking shed filled up with bikes and parts and tools, soon to be followed by the pig shed and the tractor shed, and some railway carriages he somehow acquired, and some more sheds he built from scrap. His parents slowly sold off parts of the farm to neighbours until all that's left now is the home paddock, his Mum's house (she's 94, his Dad died a long time ago), and Ian's house (which used to be the "married couple's cottage" back in the milking days).
Ian makes friends easily, he knows people all over the country whom he pops in to visit when he's travelling around the place. He has no concept of time, and if he says he'll be somewhere at such and such a time you can generally add a couple of hours, or even days to that. He sees no need to be well dressed; when I was going out with him he wore clothes that were riddled with holes, but had a large stack of brand new things he'd been given for birthdays and Christmases going back ten years or more that he was "saving". You can only tell when he's dressed up because he's wearing shoes that match. He never wears socks. He was never a tall man, but he's shrunk a good six inches since I first met him, partly from the normal compaction of the spine you get with age, but also from the three vertebrae that got crushed in a bad motorbike accident he had when he was racing in a classic scramble (old fashioned motocross) a few years ago. He's been racing all his life, and I don't think he'll ever stop. If you've ever seen "The World's Fastest Indian", Burt Munro and Ian James are birds of a feather.
So, when Ian met Sandie, and all of a sudden started turning up on time and wearing clothes that were intact, we all knew she must be someone pretty special. I was sure of it when he was perfectly open with her about meeting up with me at race meetings. Not that there's any reason not to be, anything romantic between us was over decades ago, but this is the first girlfriend he's had that he has trusted not to jump to wrong conclusions. She's perfect for him. And marriage is important to her, so he finally, at the age of 67, decided to get married.
And didn't he look swish?:
He's wearing an old dress suit with brocade lapels that he's had since school, an old waistcoat with gold fleurs-de-lis handed down from his diplomat 6'4" brother-in-law, wing-collar shirt ditto, bow tie from goodness knows where (maybe leftover fabric from Sandie's frock?), matching black shoes, and socks. Somehow or other it all came together really well and he looked so distinguished that his mother couldn't believe he was him.
Despite having requested no gifts, they got several quite substantial ones. Ian's friend Pete is in a band, so he gave the entertainment for the wedding. Here they are setting up and doing sound-checks in the morning:
Ian's friend Malcolm carpeted the house.
Sandie's brother and his workers catered the wedding with a superb barbecue, here they are setting up:
My gift was less substantial than these; I designed and printed the invitations for the stag night, for the wedding, and for the after-wedding party; and I organised and catered the stag night.
The best gift though, was from Ian's old farmer friends Alan and Jenny, who provided the wedding venue; their magnificent property "Kinsale" just outside Palmerston North. Here are a few photos I took in the morning before the wedding:
This is where the ceremony was held, the bridal party walked over the bridge to get there:
The food was served here:
Jenny doing a bit of last minute weeding:
This little wooden house on the old tree stump is actually a dove-cot:
And the weather was absolutely perfect.