Today the Infant Phenomenon and I stood waiting - she clutching a posy of flowers - to wave to the bride: one of the young ladies from the house next door. No, we were not in London, waving to Miss Middleton (as she was), now the Duchess of Cambridge. We were at home in Brighton, waving to another bride, whose nuptials were planned and announced some time before those of the royal couple were made public.
Those of you who know me will not be shocked by my frank confession that I am no royalist; one might almost say that my Irish blood rather leans in the other direction. I have huffed and puffed like a big bad wolf ever since the announcement of the royal engagement. Those who troubled to listen might have heard me chuntering about 'real news'. I have muttered about the cost to the taxpayer (should I present myself at the Circumlocution Office and demand to know?); I have sneered at the overblown sentimentality of some of my compatriots (the references to the late Princess Diana have much in common with the popular misquotation of East Lynne 'Dead, dead and never called me mother!'); I have advocated the abolition of the royal family though have as yet no thoroughly well-considered alternative to offer, though I am sure that some exist.
Suffice it to say, my refusal to engage with this so-called national event was not uncommon (Mr B was a great deal louder in his protestations, it must be noted). And then our kind neighbour Mrs D told us that one of her daughters had planned her own wedding for the same day. We were vociferous in our exclamations about 'real brides'. I am sure you can imagine our comments and our unwearying (and frankly tedious) repetition of them.
However, as the moment has arrived, my mood has softened. And do bear in mind, that I am a hardened republican who despises 'Majesty' magazine (the existence of which I discovered as a humble bookseller at Harrods). This does not indicate any softening of my republican attitude (I still have a qualm at the thought of the cost of all those policemen). No, it is simply that a bride is a bride, all the world over.
Why did I ask lovely Mrs D at what hour her daughter the bride would leave the house, so that the Infant Phenomenon could wave to her? Because everybody loves a bride. Miss D looked wonderful, glowing with the radiance proper to a bride. And thus emotion clouds politics. Whatever one thinks of constitutional monarchy and the British version of it in particular, when the day came I was delighted to see that both brides looked beautiful and radiant.
And then, the London bride entered Westminster Abbey to the stirring music of Mr Parry: I Was Glad. This is the same as Mr B and I had for our exit from church at our own wedding. I looked at Mr B, the Infant Phenomenon (on my lap) and the Inexhaustible Baby (fast asleep in the perambulator) and grew misty-eyed. And while the royal couple have a very grand evening indeed ahead of them, our neighbours will be holding their reception at a pub owned by some friends of the bride and groom. And I am sure that hearts and heels will be as light in the pub as at Buckingham Palace.
I feel I cannot do better than finish with the words of my own dear Mamma. She 'texted' me thus this afternoon: "I am not a staunch Royalist but I do wish them well. There is nothing as nice as seeing a happy couple on their wedding day." Well said Mamma! In fact, with or without benefit of clergy, a happy couple is a happy sight. And however grand a wedding might be, it is, in the end, a wedding: neither more nor less than the most important decision two people can make about how they spend their lives.