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You’re young and single at some wedding abroad, and things are fine, but then you get the drift that one of the two between bride and groom feels the need to “fix” things by playing matchmaker with your ass and some friend on the other side.

This tactic happens quite a bit as these  two pieces speak to with The 3 Questions To Ask Before You Play Matchmaker At Your Own Wedding and Why Your Wedding Is The Perfect Place To Play Matchmaker.


Sure, the odd blue moon fairytale lottery romance can strike as recounted in 10 Couples Who Met At A Wedding (Really!), but it's far from the norm, so let's go smoke another one, shall we? 


Getting back to Bob’s past situation in London, just before the ceremony, he got his first warning.

Jimmy McCracken sidled up alongside me, with Cory a step behind us. 
“Hey, Bobby, I hear that Bernadette is keen to set you up with her Aussie
friend, Jilli. You should go for it,” he said in his gravelly baritone.

Then in a car on the way to the reception the second warning shot is fired. 

“Bernie told me you are at our table, Bob,” said Tammy, changing the
subject. “And so is Jilli.” She turned her head with a simper to look at
me in the back.

“Sounds like something prearranged” I said warily, looking back at her.

Then, just before the reception meal, you still need to do that there “Trust, but verify” thing, which is ever so important, especially in this day and age with the super bogus crap they spin in "The News" to we sorry brainwashed (m)asses.

I checked the seating plan and made my way to the table. Bernadette
had indeed made sure that Jilli was assigned beside me. The fix was in.
Our round table of eight was an equal mix of friends from both sides.

 

Now, apart from going solo to a wedding to begin with, which has never bothered Bob in the least, it does seem to freak many a folk out, which is understandable.

For some, it's the pressure of being there alone to be harangued and harassed by friends and family on why you aren't settled down and married off yet. Or it could be about being in a big crowd and not knowing many (or sometimes even, anyone, apart from one of the wedding couple) there. Age, life (in)experience and personal insecurities also play a factor with one's level of (dis)comfort. It's all about attitude!


At this particular wedding just outside London back in ’91, Bob was kool with all of this, since his ass wasn’t even yet 30, and he's always been pretty relaxed about most shit out there. 

Others over the 30-year-old watershed seem to disagree, as outlined here from differing perspectives in The Minefield of Being Single at a Wedding,  Going To A Wedding Alone Doesn\t Have To Suck, and closing with This Is What I Learned from Going to Seven Weddings Alone.

Really, it all boils down to your mindset and eagerness, as our effervescent and enthusiastic gal recounts with Brtish aplomb in 21 easy breezy steps. 


More stuff happens in these solo situations as one gets older and crossing major life milestones, but let’s cover that shit off another time.

Going solo certainly opens the door for a wedding hookup. Everyone's relatively pre-vetted already, unless some uninvited individual(s) manage to surreptitiously grace the event. 


These two pieces elaborate further in When You're Single at a Wedding, It's ALL About Finding a Hot Hookup and the aftermath with What Really Happens After a Wedding Hookup. But hey, there ain't no real rules here. Make 'em up as you go along, depending on the situation. 
 

So, if your solo ass does indeed get lucky, here’s a handy dandy piece with suggestions on the 7 Best Places for a Discrete Wedding Reception Hookup. It's all about situational awareness in situ. 


If the intended romantic pairing strategy doesn't work out as preordained, and even if there’s no hookup action whatsoever, don't despair. Kick back, relax and enjoy yourself with another alco-pop and dancing, as this energetic and passionate guest displays with gusto. 


If you don't possess that there type A personality and gumption to make things happen on your own as above, chances are a there’s always the wild-card, anything-is-possible factor where other random mofos spontaneously take the event in new directions for you to behold firsthand. 
 

Ahh, such wedding memories will last a lifetime, even if those marriages don't quite make it nearly as long. 

If anyone is interested in knowing what transpired in London with Bob that night, and many other follow-on exotic events, tuck into his debut novel covering off some single guy’s worldwi(d/s)e wedding (mis)adventures. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.






Subject: London #15 - In the pub (on the piss)
(Posted on Mar 2, 2015 at 12:56PM ) Tags:
Pubs—there certainly seemed to be a LOT of them about in the UK in '89 when Bob first visited the place. At a March '91 wedding, the topic of their number came up in conversation. The lads were standing around for a few hours in The Kings Head in Shepperton, to "take the edge off" before that much more serious church ceremony stuff began on a Saturday afternoon.

Pubs and churches went hand in hand, and were often physically side-by-side—as close
as possible to marrying the two, short of actually serving alcohol during the ceremony.

Now that would be awesome.

This physical proximity to pubs wasn’t reserved solely for churches; pubs were everywhere
in this country.

“Some 74,000 or thereabouts per current measure,” Rowland had told me. “Factor in another
35,000 on-license locations between restaurants, private clubs, other residential, and the
off-licenses, and there is no shortage, my boy.”

You could be anywhere, doing anything, and if you fancied a pint, a short walk or drive in any
direction would lead to a place to wet your whistle.

Pubs are friendly places, where even complete strangers can have a deep and meaningful conversation on just about any topic. This classic Monty Python sketch originally aired in 1969 (when Bob was not yet even in kindergarten) ably demonstrates that.


Yo, that’s the way British humo(u)r rolled back then. The Two Ronnies take another run at things in the pub with their What’s My Line approach. 


And what cultural pub overview would be complete without a little “mixing it up” a la Hale and Pace.
 

In all fairness to the ladies, we must give them a say about the pub, drinking, and what their guys may be up to, especially when the girls may have other things in mind ... nudge nudge wink wink, know what I mean? Here’s the Loose Women crew having a natter on the matter, even though it takes them a few minutes to make their points.


Say no more! Remember ladies, even if you're not from Purley and haven't been around, menfolk are simple, and not mind readers. Best to always give them a heads up on things, especially as a relationship / marriage (d)evolves over time.

So, back to the numbers and related things about pubs. The count quoted above re watering holes matches up with this source here, but seems to be significantly different from this source here, and echoed here. Well, you can chalk that up to being the nature of statistics many a time—someone always has a different way to count stuff of note. Dig deeper on your own if you feel the burning desire to demystify that.

Anyway, bottom line, it’s always better when one need not stray far for a glass of liquid cheer. With all the pubs out there, it seems many names get used repeatedly per this piece. Regarding the specific pub on that particular wedding day, it is but one of 240 with that name. There may not be a lot of creativity at play.  The Red Lion takes top spot with 518 places electing to name their establishment with that. But there are still a few examples of imaginative names with the likes of The Pyrotechnists Arms, The Cat & Custard Pot, and The Legend of Oily Johnniesamong others, as this piece highlights.

The number of UK pubs has actually been in a slow and steady decline the last decades, as pointed out here and here, for a few reasons. Other options for drinking are present now with bars and clubs, consumption patterns are changing, and lots of supermarkets are selling too, so one can drink at home more easily than ever before. Historically, there’s a long and deeply ingrained culture at play, going back to a time when drinking water may not have been so clean, so beer was a better, safer opttion—one simply had to go where that was to stay hydrated. Some of the history and background can be dug up here and here

Despite the modern day decline, there are still plenty about today if you need to get your drink on.  If you’ve never been to a real authentic pub, how does one explain the differences between pub and bar cultures? Two pieces here and  here expand on that. The best way to sort it is experiencing it firsthand if you can. 

With this talk about pubs and drinking, is it all a bit too much, and is there a problem? Australian comedian Jim Jefferies may have the answer, with his focused and artful spin on drinking, and subtle comparison between the UK and US.


We won’t bother to dig further on comparisons with other pub cultures such as Ireland and Australia—let’s save that for another drink and time. However, Bob couldn't resist pulling up an Oirish gem (from some refreshment oasis, no doubt) that wisely tells folks not to worry about most matters in life. It adheres to the KISS principle. 


Whether or not hanging around the pub fits with your own personal socializing style and/or life-knowledge gathering modus operandi, as some single-guy, occasional wedding guest and part-time typist, Bob has gleaned the following kernel of wisdom, as this pub signboard below points out. More similarly insightful and informative pub signs can be seen here.



This be TRUTH and deffo, is stuff they ain’t teaching your sorry ass in skool [sic]—maybe sumpin' best mulled in situ in some "appropriate" spot with our culturally- and world-aware Aussie mate, Jim from above, and those of similar ilk.


If you're lucky, the opportunity to experience this may be there just as it was for Bob, traveling the world for weddings. Or just read about it all in his book.




Subject: London #15 - Thirteen (13)
(Posted on Apr 28, 2014 at 11:40AM ) Tags:
Is thirteen an unlucky number? I guess it depends who you ask, and where in the world you are. This Wikipedia entry covers it off well from both sides of the coin, but it sure looks like this number remains largely viewed as being more unlucky rather than lucky.

This Straight Dope piece from 1992 delves into the matter a little more, pretty much solidifying the take that 13 is really not gonna be your friend most of the time.

In the interest of fairness to the overall debate, and covering both sides, here’s a little more on why some state 13 can be your friend and not a foe. Some think the symbolic presence of 3 in there from a numerology perspective makes it all good and positive. Plus the preceding 1 is good too on its own, and putting them together means there is some greatness in union, and it's a prime number to boot. Here's some more on this thread posting on the postive aspects of 13 worth mulling as well. 



Apart from the background above, it boiled down to just one of those little things I noticed, while sitting in a church for a wedding, and looking around a bit to kill some time, and then spot the church organ pipes as below.


Yo, what was up with that? Who would build 13 pipes on an organ ? Maybe for Sunday services, it may fly and not matter, but I’m sure a few getting-married folks may well notice that, and perhaps be a little spooked by it.

This wedding happened way back in 1991, but I was recently curious to find out who built this puppy. Turns out it was put in back in 1908 by Bishop and Son in the UK, which has a history dating to 1795. I will ask them why thirteen pipes on this sucker they apparently built and see if they come back with an answer. Maybe it was all just  pure coink-e-dink, or limited by budgetary reasons on the part of the church at the time, like they only had enough do$h cum dinero for the 13-pipe version, and not a pipe more, or sumpin' like that. 

Additional church pictures of St. Nicholas in Shepperton (interior and exterior) can be found here. The stained glass windows looked nice enough, and the appreciation thereof at the time certainly may have had a helping hand by all the pints the lads consumed before the ceremony.

More pictures of the wedding  day’s venues at the pub, church, reception, and in and around the Greater London area can be found on this Pinterest Board.

Last but not least, this couple got divorced in 2008. They lasted a long time, at 17 years (beyond our unlucky 13 subject ), but not “forever” and whatever that is supposed to mean in this day and age where our average life expectancy has pretty much doubled from the point when these vows were created iand put into practice in the first place.

It would be neat to try and get some church statistics over the years to see how many couples married in this church got divorced over time, as compared to the norm locally or in the UK in general, and see if the numbers reveal something significant regarding 13 pipes on the organ being a factor (or not) in long-term marriage success. One could then use that as a bellwether for 13 being lucky or unlucky, in that limited sense only. 


Subject: London #15 - Europe(ans)
(Posted on Mar 3, 2014 at 03:32PM ) Tags:
The conversation with Cory McCracken in the pub over some beers before the wedding attempted to describe the differences between European countries  on a simplistic level, but there is actually a lot more going on for sure if you really dig into it, country by country, culture by culture, and language by language. 

The Heaven and Hell comparison is a classic take, not invented here at all, and I really did see it on the wall of some pub pisser for the first time as this photo can attest (to the fact it was on a wall somewhere on the planet). There are several variations of the joke using more or fewer countries in the mix.


But, unless one is European, or knows that region of the world well enough from living there or via extended travel, it may not mean much. For someone like Cory who had never been there at all, that was certainly the case. So that’s why I decided to take that old advertising industry maxim of Above the Line, Below the Line (sometmes called ATL BTL) and put it to different use altogether to explain Europe succinctly in a way that most folks could easily understand circa 1991.



From Bob's perspective at the time, being some single guy traveling the word for weddings, and looking at Europe with a meandering, simple, two-zone North-South dividing line:

Above the line, it rains, they drink beer, the indigenous food sucks,
trains run on time, and people work like back home.

Below the line, the sun shines, they drink wine, the food’s great,
trains run late, and nothing the fuck gets done all day.

Sure, the reality on Europe (and the rest of the world) is a lot more complex than that, and these pretty funny yet insightful map perspectives reflect that (scroll well down the page to hit the Eurocentric ones) as put together by Bulgarian designer, Yanko Tsvetkov. His maps are a little more polished and refined than this one here looking at how the English see (the rest of) Europe through the lens of soccer / football.

These two videos below poke a little fun at Italian - German, and British - French stereotypes. Take what you will from them, and you could create an endless list pitting different countries against each other in similar fashion. Like hello, Canada - USA, for example. 




Then there was this more structured 2013 Economist take on how Europeans viewed each other from different parameters. 

This last Daily Candor piece from September 2007 drills even further, and looks at many European nationalities one by one and what they think about each other, as aggregated by an American (albeit with Croatian heritage) living over there. If you really have time on your hands, you can troll through the hundreds of related comments by others and a follow-up posting if you are into this.

One can sit and debate this for hours on end with all kinds of examples and exhibits to prop up a perspective, but the best  way for me is getting a diverse bunch of my European friends around a table somewhere over there with several bottles of sumpin’ to grease the conversation, and sorting it out that way with some good-natured jousting and taking the piss out of each other over the course of an evening. 

At the end of the day, maybe Turkish (Jason Statham) had it right in Snatch, and our needing to generally pay better attention and be a little quicker with things..."before zee Germans get there" anyway.


But what does Bob know, as some Canuckistani born-and-bred palooka of Ukrainian heritage with a Polish passport, and a bunch of years living iand working in different places in Euroland? He certainly remembers giving folks over there a good laugh on a few occasions while struggling to learn a few local lingos over the years. But hey, you know you are down and good with learning a new langiage when you can, eventually, debate argue with your girlfriend in her native tongue, and give as good as you get. laugh


Subject: London #15 - Theakston Old Peculier
(Posted on Jan 24, 2014 at 11:22AM ) Tags:
No, "Peculier" ain't spelled wrong and it wasn't a typo slip-up by some prat pounding the keyboard. But I betcha some readers will think so at first glance. In fact I had to porpoisefully make sure the spell check function kept it that way too.

That is the correct spelling for the fabled brew out of Masham, North Yorkshire that Bobby Bo and Cory McCracken were knocking back that day before the wedding ceremony in Shepperton. It ain’t and never was peculiar either, at least not in the "odd" sense, if perhaps for a while on the bottle or cask, per further down below.


Peculier is actually even a real word all by its lonesome, although not in most folks’ everyday usage, and is known as a parish outside the jurisdiction of a diocese and in many cases (but not always) under the British Monarchy. Go figure. Makes me wonder if any peculiers are peculiar? Now, that doesn’t have nearly as much of an impact or meaning to me personally, like having a pint or two of that brew, which is really good stuff, in some cozy pub.

The problem with peculier, the geographical area, is that it is also spelled peculiar. D-oh! How about that for clarity? I guess that going back to medieval times, it kinda maybe went that way with certain words and the evolution of the language over time, and may have been changed. I dunno and haven’t drilled down deep enough to really come down hard one way or the other on it and I certainly have no credentials as an Engrisch etymologist. Hey, in Scotland old is auld, and bonnie (or maybe bonny) is pretty and may have come from the French word bon, for good. So anything is possible with peculier / peculiar I suppose. Or maybe it’s like how some folks never get the difference between “there”, their” and “they’re”, let alone the interchangeable usage of “its” and “it’s” you see all the time.

But, in all fairness to both sides of the spelling equation, and native English-speaking, spelling-challenged punters the world over, here is some evidence to show the ale was at some point also doubling down under the Peculiar moniker. Aha, them Theakston folks be caught out on schizophrenic labeling practices.

Maybe some historian cum brand police gatekeeper type at the brewery might clarify or expand upon that one day, and set the record straight for all. I am always open to getting the real lowdown on stuff, be it official, or not. 

Anyway, if you are really into knowing more about this peculier geography thing cuz you got some time on your hands or are bored at work (and no one’s peering over your cubicle wall, but the IT overseers might be tracking your Internet usage behind the scene), you can read a tad more about the peculier of Masham (after which the brew was named) and about Royal Peculiers (or Peculiars) in England, past and present.

Personally, I’d rather drink the ale and call it a day on the matter. Keep it simple and focused.

The brewery, T&R Theakston Ltd., has a cool past going back to 1827, and is still independently family owned. One day, I’ll have to make sure to take the tour of the place, and do a little sampling of  all their wares. Old Peculier is their most famous pour, and is called “The Legend”. Even everyone’s favorite non-comic book news and views mag, La Revista Economista as I call it, labeled that sucker the ‘doyen of real ales’ back in 1985, if that adds any more credibility to the mix, as opposed to something like Beer Advocate.

I say, just go drink it, and decide for yourself. Enjoy, just like this single guy did on his wedding adventures back in the day.

Sláinte, as the "Oirish" and "Scootish" may say on occasion.