It’s not often I feel proud to be English. The espousal of nationality seems to be associated these days with the worst aspects of mindless soccer violence and belligerent xenophobia, both of which I detest. However, on July 8th this year at St Mark’s I think we demonstrated an uplifting national trait I can’t imagine you’d find in many other countries.
It was Dave and Helena’s wedding. It was special in so many ways. Firstly, of course, the people. It was also the first wedding to take place in St Mark’s for many years and the first wedding ceremony that St Mark’s has ever held in its own right, rather than as a scion of St John’s. Number one in the record book of St Mark’s weddings!
Helena and Dave are both artists. They and their friends produced banners to hang from the walls of the church for the occasion. The transformation was remarkable. They’re still there and I feel reluctant to remove them, at least until we’ve got others to take their place. This, and a full church, gave a delightful atmosphere to the whole event.
However, it wouldn’t be St Mark’s without something being a bit zany, which is where my feelings of national pride come in. Whilst it is possible, if you scour the earth, you may find another country in which the bride would walk up the isle to the fiddle tune “Whiskey before breakfast”, and you might even find a place where the newly-married couple would leave to “Grumbling old men and grumbling old women”, I’m prepared to bet you won’t find anywhere where the glorious hymn “Tell out my Soul” would be sung to the accompaniment of Frances on Emily (the creaky old pipe organ), myself on fiddle and the crowning glory of Lesley on obligato tin whistle! I think this is something only the English would consider doing.
Another nice touch of English eccentricity was from Heather and Caroline doing improvised harmony singing during the signing of the registers. (Took me back to my youth of long hair and flared trousers!)
However, we shouldn’t forget the ceremony itself which was both joyous and devout, a combination it would be nice to find more often.
Altogether a glorious ceremony in the best traditions of St Mark’s, to celebrate the marriage of a wonderful couple.