Tuesday

Marriage in the Seychelles.


French had put a condition on giving Henry and me a marriage blessing — if he hadn’t liked us he
could have said ‘no’ — but I didn’t doubt for a moment that he would agree. I was right. Even better, after we had travelled to Mahé and had tea at the Palace, French offered to marry us in the cathedral; not just a blessing but the full wedding ceremony itself. Henry really liked our friendly local Archbishop and had no problem with the concept. He was one of those amiable atheists who didn’t have an issue with anyone else believing as long as they didn’t try and change his inner world. And he wanted his new wife to be happy, whatever that would take.
I was happy. I felt very blessed. I’d just wanted a church wedding but my ego was thrilled to be married by an Archbishop in a cathedral, even if it were a tiny grey stone building smaller than St. Peter’s back at home. So why was it that on the morning of our wedding, I froze? I couldn’t come out of the bathroom, to head out for the ceremony. Instead I just stared in the mirror at the image of a white-faced woman in beautiful apricot-coloured dress, wearing those very pearls that had been tried on by eager Chinese women and crowned with frangipani on her familiar piles of tumbling hair. I couldn’t move, or think, or do anything.
‘Darling, we have to go,’ said Henry anxiously.
‘I can’t do it,’ I thought. ‘I can’t, I can’t.’
It’s easy enough, with hindsight, to say I had an intuition of what was coming but I didn’t. It was almost certainly just pre-wedding nerves and without family to flatter, comfort and reassure me, I felt very alone.
I asked Henry to pour me a glass of champagne and then told him in no uncertain terms to go away and give me a minute. He did.
Still I stared at my image in the mirror. I drank a glass of champagne, remembered that I was presenter of live TV and radio shows and that when the cue was given, you started the programme no matter how you felt. It was show time. I went out to get married.

Later that afternoon, I went snorkeling. We didn’t have any kind of reception so we were at a bit of a loose end after we came back from the church. It was all a bit flat, to be honest. We spent some time in bed and then, as Henry was sleeping, I went out into the warm, azure ocean to lie dreamily in the shallows watching the fish. There were only patches of coral in the bay of our hotel but it was still beautiful. The weather was glorious and I let the water waft me here and there, feeling perfectly content. At one point, an unexpected wave, probably from a passing boat, washed me close to some coral and I put out my hand to ensure that I wasn’t scratched. I thought nothing of it.
Henry was still sleeping as the sun set so I went to have a bite to eat at the beach café, slightly depressed that it was that on my wedding night I was dining alone. As I raised my burger to my mouth I noticed a mark on my brand new wedding ring. It had been scored more than halfway through by something incredibly sharp. It could only have been the coral but I had no recollection of hitting it so hard. I was devastated that my beautiful ring had been so badly damaged within hours of the ceremony. It seemed like a horrible sign. I was too upset to realise that I had been saved from a half-severed finger.
Three weeks later, when we were back in London, I did some journalistic shifts for Capital Radio in London. My wedding ring had gone off to be mended and I was wearing another, an antique wedding ring known as ‘the Warskett ring’ in my family. I didn’t want to be bare-fingered so soon after marriage and the Warskett ring fitted perfectly well.
While editing a piece for the evening news show, I put my hand out to stop a tape machine that had just finished re-winding and showed no inclination to stop. I caught the metal spool in exactly the same way as I had caught a thousand others during my years in radio. That day, it cut a slash in the Warskett ring that was identical to the one cut by coral on my wedding day.

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