Celtic Illumination, part 169, Nuns on the rum
As instructed I was washed and dressed and on parade on time. I had seen some of my family moving about the hotel and it was obvious that apart from a sociable smile and a nod there wouldn’t be much more communication forthcoming. I felt bad having to leave Irene but at least she had Chidge and Gail to keep her company. I headed off to Carol’s flat to collect her and take her to the church. Carol was still in panic mode and eventually managed to claim that she was ready, I could take her to the church and give her away. I was secretly hoping that the day would pass without incident but as we left her flat I realised that I may be wishing for far too much.
As we stepped out from the flat Carol moved from panic mode to hysterical mode. Under no circumstances would she be travelling in a bloody yellow Beetle to the church. This was her wedding, where was her limousine? I expected that she would once again, as she had done so many years before, tell the parent that I had been swearing at her. I explained that there was no time for me to arrange for a new car and eased off on the suggestion that it didn’t bloody well matter what she travelled in. As you can imagine the journey from her flat to the church was expletive laden and with a multilingual flavour too.
The church was heaving. I walked her down the aisle, presented her to Guido and withdrew. It was quite a constipated affair. Guido was a member of two choirs each of which had taken positions in the church and were determined to out-sing each other. The Italian monk was chattering away in Italian, one uncle priest was thundering along in Gaelic while the pervert priest stuck to Latin. Despite the seriousness of the situation we four were having a giggle as we had been seated on the front bench and were trying to keep up with the congregation behind us as they stood, sat or knelt. It’s a wonder none of us started singing. ♫ Do the hokey cokey ♫
Thankfully it ended and we poured outside for the obligatory photographs and handshakes. I suppose if I had been interested in the affair I would have said it was a lovely day in gorgeous surroundings. We left for the reception which was in a restaurant that was perched on the side of a lake. I say perched for the actually building came out over the lake. It was a beautiful setting and I settled down for a feed. My resolve at always eating local was tested as the first course, of the seven we had been warned about, was sliced calf’s brain. I don’t know about you but I can’t stand any fat or gristle in my mouth and this first course would certainly test my resolve.
Champagne was on tap and all the revellers swallowed it down by the gallon. I never liked the stuff so had replaced the champagne in my glass with grappa. Quite late in the afternoon my auntie Mary, a nun in America, staggered over and was the first member of the family to actually speak to me. “Hi Peter,” she called. I introduced Irene and Peter and Gail. Mary, as aunties do, began to tell stories about me when I was a toddler, and probably nice. She then reached forward and took my champagne glass stating. “Peter doesn’t like champagne,” after which she downed the grappa. It was quite funny having to look after a pissed up nun.
Of course with Guido being in two choirs there was a lot of singing throughout the afternoon, some good and some not so good. Chidge and I probably could have given them a good rendition of four and twenty virgins but we held back, my mother on the other hand was not to be outdone. I don’t know how word got around that she had been a professional opera singer but people began to ask her to sing and after a number of refusals she eventually gave in and took to the floor. I had often heard her sing as she practised at home but this was something different. She stood in the centre of the reception and belted out Ave Maria.
It was so perfect that I think everyone in the room, even the staff, were in tears. Chidge and I found some of Guido’s uncles and cousins who were big rugby fans so we all adjourned to the bar and began throwing beers down our necks. It was a good day and I behaved myself as well as can be expected. After the reception we set off in a huge convoy and were taken to see the natural pyramids which were only a few miles away. There was a sort of car park which was surrounded by a small hedge. I was bursting for a pee and thinking I was clever, moved in the opposite direction to the crowd and leapt over the hedge hoping to find somewhere I could relieve myself. I know I should have looked first but no one expects a twenty foot drop next to a hedge.
I was drunk enough to have entered the rubber bone zone and probably bounced as I hit the bottom. Suitably splattered in mud from head to toe I re-joined the crowd and looked at the pyramids. I couldn’t see the attraction but climbed back in the car to find I now had an extra passenger, the drunken nun. We were heading back to Trento and the hotel, but Mary was concerned that there was something wrong with the car. We pulled over and listened as we tried to hear what she had caught. I even switched off the radio to see if we could hear the problem at which she declared I had fixed it.
Back in the hotel I produce a couple of bottles of Irish whiskey, one of the tax free benefits of living in Germany, and encouraged all to drink their fill. The family of course were mortified and slunk off to their rooms leaving me with the Italians. It was a good party, judging from the hangover the following morning. Carol and Guido arrived and were chatting away when Alberto came in and presented Irene with a bunch of flowers. Carol was livid as it took the focus of attention away from her. She came over to see that Alberto had made one dozen, full sized, silver roses for Irene’s birthday. They were really lovely.
Carol then informed me that the whole wedding party were heading to Venice and if I wanted to I could accompany them. I hadn’t planned to go to Venice but I thought why not, I could show Irene around. She then informed me that as Alberto was her friend, half of the roses belonged to her. I wasted no time in informing her what I thought of her claim, especially as I had paid for them, well; contributed towards them as I knew the actual cost far exceeded what Alberto had asked from me. I still have to thank him properly and will plan a return trip when I hear that he has been released from prison where he is currently serving a fixed term for murder. A thought which, you may consider, had crossed my mind, more than once.
With the family packed and loaded up in cars a convoy left Trento and headed south for Venice. Around lunch time we pulled in at a restaurant and like 92 squadron would do in Cyprus, arranged the tables so that there was one huge table where we all sat. It was a nice relaxed affair, but there was still a fair amount of tension about. The mother announced that this would be her treat so everyone was to eat and drink what they wished. Very generous of her as there were about twenty people in our party.
We were finishing our coffees and preparing to leave when my mother called me over. I should have known that there would be no apology or explanation or even thanks. “Peter,” she said. “I’ve left my money in my suitcase in the car. Would you pay for this please and I’ll sort you out later.” I felt as if I was getting a glimpse of where Carol got her attitude from and paid the bill, which was just over three hundred quid, or half a million Lire. We all jumped back into our respective vehicles and headed for Venice. We all met up in Saint Mark’s Square and despite the fact that I was in one of my most favourite places I was becoming quite angry with the ridiculous attitude my family had towards me and Irene.
One of the priests, not the pervert one, had taken a shine to Gail so there was plenty of communication there, but I was so disappointed in my family I announced that we were leaving. I was thanked for coming and wished a safe journey home and despite the fact that I explained that it was Irene’s birthday not one of them wished her a happy birthday. To make matters worse I grounded the car as we left the car park and bent the twin exhausts. I put the problem to the back of my mind as it was another expense I would have to deal with when I got back to Germany. Which I then realised was not when I got back to Germany but if I got back to Germany. My mother hadn’t given me the money for the lunch. It did make me smile though, for once again I found myself in Venice with no money and perhaps a slight problem with the return journey back home.