Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The tale of the severed finger

This is a true story. It’s the story of how a bingo win full turned into a family tragedy. And a severed finger.
It’s also the story of how I met one of my best friends.
It all began about fifteen years ago. I was dating a lad called Martin at the time. I had an almighty crush on Martin which began at the tender age of fifteen. He lived in the house on the corner and worked in the local greengrocers on a Saturday. And I couldn’t believe my lucky stars when he started paying me attention, just after my nineteenth birthday. My patient four year wait was worth it! Even though he moved to Wales the day after our relationship began! But I’m drifting off the track here. Martin's best friend was called Keith and whilst I was dating Martin, Keith was dating a girl called Caron.
One day Martin and Keith received a wedding invitation. Their old school friend Vincent was marrying his childhood sweetheart, Michelle. The invites extended to Caron and I. The happy couple decided to wed after hitting the jack pot on the bingo. Weddings are pricey occasions, wouldn't you agree. Therefore a bingo win full was able to help them along the marital path.
So, one Friday morning Martin and I drove to the wedding venue. I remember continuously asking Martin questions regarding Caron and her personality, throughout our journey to the venue. I was nervous about spending time with her as we had only briefly met one night in the local pub. I knew we would be left to entertain ourselves later that evening, whilst our boyfriends attended the wedding rehearsals. I was slightly concerned that we would have nothing in common and the evening would be full of awkward silences.
Later that night I learnt there was absolutely no reason for me to be concerned at all. Caron and I hit it off big style. We sat in the hotel bar all night, drinking champagne and wine, talking and laughing non-stop. There were no awkward silences. I knew then that it was the start of a beautiful friendship.
When our other halves returned from their rehearsals (they were given best man and usher responsibilities) they were quite surprised how easy we'd bonded. And how hard we were finding standing straight and walking in a straight line. Oh how Caron and I laughed as we wobbled back to our hotel rooms, linked arms, and chuffed at our new found friendship.
We were not laughing the next day. The next day we did not find our pounding heads and queasy stomachs remotely funny. It felt as if a million angry kangaroos were jumping on our heads. It felt as if we were sitting on the world's fastest magical merry-go-round. I honestly think that was one of the worst hangovers I’ve ever experienced in my whole life. I did not even want to open my sore eyes and see the next day. I did not even want to remove my clammy hands from the hotel duvet. Of course I had to, I had to prise myself out of bed and pretend I felt human. It was Vincent and Michelle's wedding day.
Martin and Keith were not laughing either, when they saw the size and cost of the bar bill. The bar bill definitely cancelled their sense of humour.
Anyway, the wedding day passed with Caron and I constantly moaning about our health and flinching at the sight/smell of any alcohol. We did not receive any sympathy, but I'm not surprised as it was all self inflicted and we had no one to blame but our greedy selves.
There were wedding vows, photographs, speeches, wedding cake and dancing. As soon as it was not considered rude to do so, Caron and I sneaked back to bed to rest our poor dehydrated bodies.
That was when it all began to go horribly wrong.
I am not aggressive when I drink wine or champagne. Far from it. If I was to turn aggressive I know I would stop drinking immediately and ban myself from swallowing any liquids which made me behave in such a manner. Unfortunately some people are aggressive when they consume alcohol and they do not know how to stop and control themselves. This is what happened to certain individuals during the evening of the wedding.
When the bar closed for the night, certain individuals would not accept it was closing time and time to retire to bed. Instead, they helped themselves to the bottles behind the bar. They actually stepped behind the bar and poured their own drinks. This did not bode well with other wedding guests and the hotel staff. Or with Michelle and Vincent.
Arguments began, voices were raised, tempers were lost and alas, punches were thrown. I was told it was not a pretty sight. Certain individuals insulted and punched their way through the wedding guests. Caron and I slept through the whole fiasco.
The next morning everyone (apart from Caron and I) awoke in horror when they remembered the night before. Nobody dared show their face in the hotel breakfast room, everyone left the hotel as quietly as they could, avoiding other guests and the newly married couple.
Apparently Vincent and Michelle did not speak to half the wedding party for a fair few months. As you would expect they were very upset and very angry at the despicable behaviour from some of their friends and family. How sad that what should have been one of the happiest days of their lives turned into fight night.
You may be thinking that things must have improved for the couple. Perhaps they even learnt to laugh at the disastrous wedding night, and the appalling language and fighting that was displayed by the hotel bar?
No, that was not the case.
Vincent then left Michelle for another woman. That was enough to break a girls heart. But it wasn’t any old woman. It was Michelle's mother. His children's nanny. His own mother-in-law.
And the story does not end there.
Michelle's father did not take the news very well. So distraught was he, that his son-in-law had run off with his wife, that he chopped off his wedding finger, still wearing his wedding ring, and posted it to Michelle's mother.
I can imagine opening an envelope and seeing your husbands finger would not have the same affect as opening an envelope and reading your bank statement, or your gas bill. In other words, it would have completely and utterly freaked me out!
And I’m afraid I haven’t finished yet.
Vincents years ahead were somewhat troubled one way or the other. I won't go into too much detail regarding his troubles, but I am very sad to report one dark and tragic day Vincent committed suicide.
It's quite a story, wouldn’t you agree, the wedding that Caron and I bonded at. I wish I could say it had a happier ending, but that would not be true. I hope I have not distressed you too much. It's a story I decided to tell because last week I attended Caron's wedding day.
Caron and I’s friendship has gone from strength to strength. Men and champagne bottles have come and gone, but our friendship is still united. And last week I was honoured to be Caron's bridesmaid.
But before I tell you all about that, the next post is all about the hen do.
I promise you, it's a far happier tale in comparison to the tale of the severed finger.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Has anyone seen my ankles?

I am not a skinny person by any stretch of the wildest imagination. I was bordering on skinny way back in my youth, when I was blessed with a body that could eat food at an alarming rate but not once add any extra pounds to my slender physique.
“You’ll explode one day if you keep eating like that,” I was warned. I didn’t explode, but I did gradually gain weight. Everywhere. Apart from my ankles and my wrists. My ankles and wrists have remained small.
These days I like to call myself curvaceous and pretend that I’m not really bothered about attaining a supermodel figure. Besides, I enjoy eating too much to deprive myself of one of life's pleasures. I’m not saying I’m unhealthy, I regularly eat vegetables and fruit and a balanced diet, but I do eat rather large portions and I refuse to stop eating cheese and chocolate and other such delicacies. So as a result of good food and a slower metabolism, I am not a skinny person, apart from those ankles and wrists.
However, last week was a completely different story. Last week it was impossible to see where my ankles stopped and my legs began. Last week my feet resembled the feet of a morbidly obese elephant. The reason? Pesky pond life at my photography club.
There we were, grey skies above, not ideal photography weather but that didn’t stop us from heading to the local pond searching for the perfect picture. There were ducks and swans and pretty pink flowers. And teenagers on bikes looking at us as if we’d escaped from the local zoo.
I was wearing black leggings underneath my black dress with my brown shoes. Had I realised we would be outside I would have dressed appropriately. I would have worn jeans and socks and covered those (skinny) ankles.
I crouched down to capture the swan and his elegant white neck. There were reeds and pond like things growing by the waters edge. And a rusty coke can added to the scene. Gnats circulated the air above me, and was it my imagination but could I feel the pesky pond life feeding on my ankles and making me itch?
It was not my imagination. The next day my ankles disappeared. My feet and ankles ballooned to very unattractive and startling sizes. My feet were covered in itchy lumps. And the next day after that, the bruises errupted. I looked a sight. It was also very uncomfortable.
I hobbled to the chemist, slightly concerned that my feet were pumped full of deadly poison and I may have to be rushed into hospital for life threatening surgery. (You can’t help worrying sometimes, can you?) The lady at the chemist assured me I would live and it was nothing to fret about. I was given cream and tablets and reassured I would be okay.
You’ll be pleased to know that I have nearly recovered from my ordeal. My feet and ankles are nearly back to normal. My ankles are practically back to their old skinny selves, and thankfully we have been reunited once again.
Dear ankles, it’s good to have you back.

Before I was bitten.


Taken whilst being bitten.


After I was bitten.