Don’t Tell The Blog

I have mentioned before that I work as a personal injury solicitor, and, contrary to popular belief, we are not all ‘ambulance chasers’ or ‘parasites’, who get turned on by the slightest glimpse of a car crash.

We do not all go weak at the knees when faced with the prospect of making a little money (and, believe me, due to Government cuts over the past decade, any money we do make from our work is most definitely ‘little’), out of someone else’s misfortune.

However, when it comes to metaphorical car crashes, particularly those of the television variety, I do get a little tingly of trouser.

I have, over the past few years, posted a few blog entries alluding to my fondness for truly awful TV, the stand-out examples being Eurovision (https://middlerageddad.com/2016/05/13/blog-bang-a-bang/) and ITV’s Take Me Out (https://middlerageddad.com/2016/03/11/let-the-blog-see-the-rabbit/) so I am happy to pause here for a minute while you go back and read both, if you like.

Good, weren’t they?

Anyway, for some reason, I derive great pleasure from laughing at idiots, and while many people find cringy television uncomfortable (for example, my wife cannot stand Alan Partridge), I relish watching programmes where the window-lickers of society gather together. By that, I am not suggesting for one second that I laugh at all stupid people, as that would be unkind, but if you happen to voluntarily feature on reality shows such as Take Me Out or Love Island, then, sorry, but you are fair game as far as I’m concerned.

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I am currently writing this week’s blog entry from my in-law’s, partly because Ollie and Isaac wanted to spend some quality time with their maternal grandparents (who live on the other side of the country to us, so we don’t see them as often), but also to give my wife a break from refereeing their constant squabbles – while I try to work.

Now, my in-laws do not have Sky, which is absolutely fine (although it does mean we’ll return home to a shit-load of recorded Masterchef Australia to catch up on, not to mention the fact Isaac is having Spongebob withdrawal symptoms), but the consequence of this is that I have encountered a few programmes over the past few days which I have either not seen in years, or have never seen at all.

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One such television ‘treat’ (and I say this knowing full well many of you will strongly disagree with such a description), is a programme called Don’t Tell The Bride. I honestly haven’t seen this show in years, but please believe me when I say there was literally nothing else on while eating my breakfast the other morning, so I decided to amuse myself by watching some utter planks get hitched.

If you have never seen Don’t Tell The Bride, let me explain the concept: a betrothed woman, more concerned with a few minutes of fame/ridicule on TV than actually having the wedding she wants, entrusts every single aspect of her big day to the man she plans to spend the rest of her life with – who is, almost exclusively, a total fuckwit. The groom-to-be is then given a budget to organise absolutely everything, including the ceremony itself, the dress, rings, bridesmaid’s outfits, hen party, stag do, food, vehicles, decorations… everything, and the couple must then remain apart for three weeks until the entire shit-show is unveiled to an invariably pissed off bride.

Why is she always pissed off? Well, that would be because the groom is always either medically stupid, completely ignorant of what his bride wants, or a totally selfish prick (but usually a combination of all three). However, I am yet to watch a single episode where the bride turns up to the ceremony and promptly calls the whole thing off in floods of tears – which is, if I’m honest, the only reason I turned it on this morning. I live in hope of one day catching an episode where the woman storms off, screaming at him to stick his ring firmly up his….. well, ring.

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Now, it is highly unlikely that anyone reading this blog entry knows the people who featured in the episode I watched while eating my breakfast on Wednesday morning, let alone appeared in it; but, just in case, I would like to apologise for the next four words in my blog:

What. The. Actual. Fuck?

Even by the very low standards already set by Don’t Tell The Bride in the past (and, I must stress, I have only watched a handful of the 164 episodes that apparently exist), the groom was a monumentally arrogant and selfish bellend; so, by association, his bride deserved everything she got – which, in case you hadn’t already seen the conclusion coming, was the polar-opposite wedding day to the one she had no doubt dreamed of for years. Still, if you choose to marry a prick, and then have your day filmed for a television show which thrives on men being utterly useless at planning anything important, you only have yourself to blame.

Anyway, here are my ten highlights from this particular episode, so the men among you can gauge whether you would have done a better job of planning the wedding (and, if you have read this far without getting a headache from the big words, I guarantee you would have), while the women can gasp in horror and thank your lucky stars you never made such a stupid decision (to have your wedding day filmed by E4 / marry this clown).

Strap yourselves in, folks…

1

Before separating for three weeks prior to their impending nuptials, the bride-to-be only specified one aspect of her wedding day which she was resolutely fixed on – she did not want it outdoors. In her words, she ‘doesn’t like t’cold’; so, naturally, the groom arranged for the wedding to take place on a fucking beach. Cracking start, lad.

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2

Then, for the hen do, which he forgot to organise until a few days before (as he was too preoccupied booking his stag do skydive instead), he arranged for his beloved and her girly chums to have a lovely relaxing day….. at a muddy assault course. After all, what self-respecting bride doesn’t want to spend her hen do squelching around under a tarpaulin, before dragging herself over a brick wall and through a partially submerged tunnel? Well, apart from one who is FUCKING PREGNANT, and therefore can’t take part. Not that she would have enjoyed it, judging by how much the chief bridesmaid bitched about her lovely new trainers getting ruined.

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3

Fortunately, the groom redeemed himself slightly later that same day, when he arranged for the hen party to dine at a fancy restaurant (well, it was fancy for them, because the cutlery wasn’t plastic), and all appeared to be forgiven. Well, until they realised he’d forgotten to pay for the meal, so they nearly had to cover the bill themselves.

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Next up, the big one – selecting and paying for the bride’s dress. I did sympathise with him slightly at this point, because (a) no man should ever risk buying clothes for a woman, as it will almost always end in disaster; (b) this is especially true when it is arguably the most important outfit she will ever wear; and (c), did I mention she was HEAVILY FUCKING PREGNANT? Fortunately, she left the wedding dress choice relatively open for him, so long as he didn’t buy one with loads of lace on it…..

….yes, of course he did.

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Oh, and it had a big shiny silver belt around the waist, too – because, what every pregnant bride wants, when already uncomfortable stood on a freezing beach, is to be further restrained around her expanding bump. Still, the dress was, in his words, ‘cheap’, so at least he saved a bit of cash to put towards his skydive.

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Then, for the bridesmaid’s outfits, he very astutely realised that you hardly ever see them dressed in white too (I wonder why that is?); but, to avoid causing any confusion/jealousy by clothing all the gal-pals in similar white dresses, he opted for ABBA-style jumpsuits instead. Cla-ssy.

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They honestly looked like a cross between low-budget Bond villains (if a Bond film had ever been set on a cold beach in Yorkshire, which it understandably hasn’t) and a group of thoroughly-miserable painter decorators.

7

While choosing their rings, he appeared to be genuinely flummoxed when the jeweller asked him what size he needed for his wife-to-be, and even more astonished when ‘cocktail sausage’ wasn’t a recognised size on the International Ring Scale.

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8

For the ceremony itself, he splashed out the princely sum of £16.99 to buy a trellis style archway from somewhere like ‘Poundland’, which he then had to secure to some wooden pallets on the beach to stop it from making an untimely escape towards Scandinavia.

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9

Still, at least if the bride-to-be was pissed off at having to exchange her vows cowering under Poundland’s finest, with the icy turd-ridden surf creeping ever closer to her feet, surely the groom could pull it out of the bag with a spectacular reception afterwards?

Well, he did, but only if you consider a marquee in a nearby caravan park to be spectacular. Having said that, he also arranged a fairground ride and chip van, so at least that was something for her special day. I mean, she obviously couldn’t go on the fairground ride (preggers, remember?), but she more than made up for any disappointment with her chip consumption.

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Finally, despite fuming at getting married on a beach, hating her sand-stained dress (not to mention the bridesmaid’s jumpsuits), nearly standing in horse shit from her carriage  ride on the way to the caravan park/funfair reception, and the somewhat-belated realisation she was now inextricably linked to a fucking moron, once she’d had a cone of chips, she decided he was a sweetheart really. Which is the way this show always ends, no matter how badly the wedding has been arranged.

I hope they are very happy together*

*which, bearing in mind the show was filmed two years ago, I doubt very much they are.

Thanks for reading.

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The Ol’ Blog and Chain

When I started to blog, just a few years ago

And the size of my readership began to grow

My wife made one point perfectly clear:

If I wrote about her, I’d be out on my ear

Since then, I’ve mentioned her just once or twice

But I think you’ll agree I have always been nice

This blog, however, is all about her

I just hope by the end that my readers concur

I’ve said nothing amiss, I’ve done nothing wrong –

She never said anything about writing a song.

 

The reason this entry is about my dear wife

(apart from the fact she’s a huge part of my life)

Is that Monday will see the day thirteen years since

She turned in the church and said (with a wince)

‘Go on, I suppose, if no one else will’

And then we were married – and married we are still.

Thirteen years, you’ll agree, is a very long time

(I’d get less for murder… or a similar crime)

I’m joking, of course, it’s gone rather well

We rarely disagree, hardly shout, never yell

There’s a very good reason why we seldom fight:

I always back down – because she’s always right.

 

I met her at Uni, on my very first day

I thought she was nuts (she thought I was gay)

Ok, that’s not true, but since the end of that week

Barely a day has gone by, where we didn’t speak

She studied History, while I studied Law

I’d never met anyone like her before

She collected sheep – not real ones of course

She liked Agatha Christie, and Inspector Morse

She could play violin, the piano and sing

Charles I, strangely, was her favourite king

We watched the same movies, our tastes were alike

(despite her obsession with old Dick Van Dyke)

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Her fave film of all time, bizarrely, was ‘Clue’

She was slightly fanatical about Scooby Doo

But otherwise our tastes would oft coincide

(leaving her musicals love to one side)

And when it came to music, I realised with glee

She owned a lot of the same albums as me

There were exceptions of course – she had Abba and Queen

Plus, she didn’t despise Ocean Colour Scene

But those little differences are what made us click

And she didn’t seem put off when I acted a prick

She humoured my nerdiness, embraced my weird

Suddenly, from nowhere, confidence appeared

By the time our first year came to an end

It was clear she’d become my very best friend.

 

When we first started dating, back in ‘99

I’d walk over to her house, she’d cycle to mine

I realised I loved her, and as that love grew

She took me to Edinburgh in 2002

It seemed like the right time to get down on one knee

And ask if she wouldn’t mind marrying me

Then two years later, on July Thirty-First

She agreed to have me, for better or worse

In sickness and health, ‘til death us do part

(despite her loud snoring, and the fact that I fart).

 

And now, nearly five thousand days later

I still don’t believe I could find someone greater

She’s my soulmate, my best friend, the love of my life

I’m so very lucky to have her as my wife

Since then she has given me two special boys

Our clean, quiet home, is now all mess and noise

But I wouldn’t have it any other way

As I think back to that bright July day

The boys can annoy us, make us want to scream

But at the end of the day, we’re a pretty good team

So, as I look forward to those years to come

Here’s to the perfect wife, best friend, and Mum

 

Happy Anniversary x

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Love’s Labour’s Blog

This Sunday is our wedding anniversary, and will mark twelve years to the day since my wife said ‘oh, go on then, if there’s really no one else who will have you’.

We were married in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Norwich, on 31st July 2004, and for those of you unaware of this particular church, here are some pictures:

As you can imagine, for a shy and reserved twenty-four year old, who was at the time nervous about a great many things, least of all getting married in front of a huge mass of people, this building scared the living shit out of me. So much so, that on the brief walk up to the church, from the guest house where I had stayed the night before, I had to stop off at a pub for a swift half to steady my nerves. Well, I knew she’d be late anyway, so where was the harm?

Sure enough, she was late, although she repeatedly reminds me that this was not actually her fault. In fact, she was trying to speed up her departure from home, for the very reason that she knew I would be stressing if she wasn’t there on time. The situation, and my increasing anxiety, was not helped by my Nan, who kept nudging me in the back to suggest that perhaps my bride to be was not going to show up at all.

But show up she did. Better still, she didn’t turn and run at any point throughout the ceremony (although in light of the length of her train, I suspect running was out of the question anyway) and, within an hour or so, we were husband and wife.

Every year since, we have tried to mark the occasion by buying gifts based on the traditional wedding anniversary list (as her parents have always done), and I have often been quite pleased with my inventiveness in the face of some challenging themes. Ok, a few of the early gift genres were a little unusual, but at least they gave me an idea to work with.

For example, the traditional gift for your second wedding anniversary is cotton, and I managed to find a fancy boutique hotel in Manchester, which was historically a cotton mill, and which had retained a great many of its original features.

Then, for our fourth anniversary, the theme was ‘fruit and flowers’, and I found a lovely little pub in the Lakes called ‘The Orange Tree’.

In ‘Season 9’ (sometimes, I like to refer to our years together as if they were DVD box sets), I outdid even my own high standards. The theme was ‘pottery’, and whilst I initially thought of taking her to Stoke for the day, I very quickly realised that this would most likely end in divorce, so I had the ingenious idea of visiting the Harry Potter Studios tour near London. Clever, huh?

However, either the list makers started to run out of ideas by the time they got to double figures, or they didn’t expect people to have kept up with the tradition beyond ten years or so (‘look, no one will still be doing this by their tenth anniversary, so just stick ‘tin’ down and let’s go to the pub, for fuck’s sake’), because the last few years have been a struggle.

And, if we thought tin was rather unusual for our 10th anniversary, last year’s theme got really ridiculous – steel. Yes, you read that correctly, steel. Surely the most romantic of all the iron-based metal alloys, no?

What was I going to do for that, take her for a romantic weekend in Sheffield? No offence to the people of Sheffield, but if I wasn’t taking her to Stoke, I was hardly going to take her to Sheffield either. In the end, I just nicked her a bunch of flowers (‘ohhhhh, I get it now. You meant steel….’)

I wonder whether, having already included the likes of silver and gold for the more significant milestones, the list makers ever came close to considering the rest of the periodic table for anniversary gift ideas. After all, nothing says ‘I love you’, like a highly toxic chunk of Beryllium, made into a pretty – yet deadly – pendant.

In fact, the possibilities within the periodic table are vast (if a little harmful). Just imagine the novelty card accompanying the gift:

When you became my wife

It’s fair to say I was thrilled

So here is some lovely Polonium

I got from a spy who was killed

This year, we are faced with the prospect of ‘silk’, and, despite the obvious choices – tie for me, and something saucy and revealing for…. well, me again – we’ve been a bit stumped. I won’t reveal what I’ve bought her, as that will ruin the (hugely underwhelming) surprise before Sunday, but, love, if you’re reading this, don’t get your hopes up, ok?

If we can stay together for the foreseeable future, I am particularly dreading ‘ivory’ for our fourteenth anniversary (on the basis illegal elephant-poaching is generally frowned-upon these days) and ‘opal’ for our twenty-fourth year together (she’s sure as hell not getting a European-imported Vauxhall – yes, I know that’s spelt Opel, but work with me here – so I’ll most likely have to resort to buying her a family-size pack of Starburst).

To be honest, much as it has been fun to come up with original ideas over the years, I feel the entire list needs a bit of modernisation, certainly up to the twenty-fifth anniversary (after which, the gifts are more sensible – Silver (25th), Pearl (30th), Ruby (40th), Gold (50th), Diamond (60th) and Casket (70th) – ok, that was in poor taste).

So, with that in mind, here is my suggested overhaul of the list, to offer a more ‘modern’ gift choice for the first twenty-four years of marriage:

  1. Chocolate
  2. After shave / perfume
  3. CDs
  4. Alcohol
  5. Jewellery / Watch
  6. Books
  7. DVDs
  8. Clothes
  9. A subscription to a magazine
  10. A ‘free-pass’ for one night (ideally, Holly Willoughby for me, Dan Snow for her, subject to availability and pending restraining orders)
  11. Tickets to see a band that neither of you can believe are still touring
  12. Pic ‘n’ Mix (one of those big, cinema-style, ‘as much as you can fucking cram in’ tubs)
  13. Gift vouchers
  14. A nice framed picture of the two of you, back when you were happy
  15. A child-free holiday
  16. Pants and socks
  17. A board game with a hilarious novelty theme
  18. Something for around £20 from Amazon
  19. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
  20. Viagra
  21. Biscuits
  22. Blankets
  23. Slippers
  24. Vitamin supplements

This way, everyone knows where they stand, and gets something they actually need at that point in their marriage / life.

Oh, and by all means feel free to adopt this list within your own relationships, and send me photographs of you enjoying your gifts…..

… unless it happens to be your twentieth anniversary this year, in which case I’m good, thanks.

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