Whose silly idea was it to get married in a remote Scottish castle in the middle of winter? But before they can get married, Londoner Kim and her fiery Brazilian fiancée, Gabi, first have to get there.
The trip from their home in London involves rain -- a lot of rain -- hire cars, trains, disapproving B&B landladies, and snow. So much snow that even when the brides reach their castle, not in a limo, but in a Land Rover smelling of sheep, they fear the caterer, their families and friends, and, most importantly, the celebrant to marry them, will never make it.
Will the guests arrive? Will the power stay on? Will the cake make it safely? Will the wedding even happen at all? Gaining the right to marry was a long struggle. Now the struggle is to get the brides to the church on time.
“Well, that was the worst journey ever and it’s only just started,” I said, as we dashed inside at a motorway service station. The traffic had been heavy coming out of London. We’d barely got further than Watford before we made our first stop for a pee and a coffee. A couple of hours later and we weren’t much further north, and making another stop.
Gabi reapplied lipstick in the ladies’ room mirror. “We should have eloped to Barbados,” she said. “As I suggested.”
“I know,” I sighed, brushing my hair. “But a winter wedding at a Scottish castle ... it seems so romantic.”
“Life is not like a story. You read too many books.”
“There’s no such thing as too many books. And sometimes life is just like a story.” Like when the insanely gorgeous Brazilian MRI scanner technician said “yes” when I asked her to come for a drink with me. I’d been trying to work up the nerve to ask for weeks. Because she couldn’t be interested in pasty, flat chested me, could she? But I had noticed the way she rebuffed the advances of male doctors and managers -- and there were plenty of those advances to rebuff.
“Sometimes it’s like a comedy story,” Gabi said. “Like last week when that man decided he liked it so much in the scanner he wanted to stay in there and Dr. Wendiger from psychiatry had to talk him out.”
“That guy was crazier than a box of frogs.”
“That’s no way to talk about Dr. Wendiger.” She grinned. “Let’s get some coffee.”
I waited in a long line for coffee and cakes at service station prices. They must need Sherpas and pack mules to bring the goods to motorway service station retailers, going by the prices they charge. Which is kind of strange when they are literally on the motorway. Anyway, I headed over to where Gabi had secured a table and was ignoring looks and remarks from a group of lads at a nearby table, too busy on her phone. I placed the tray of food and cups on the table. One of the lads spoke loudly to his pals. “Don’t fancy yours much.” They exploded into laughter and I sat down blushing. Gabi looked puzzled.
“What does that mean?” she asked. “What are they implying?”
“Never mind,” I said, handing her a coffee and some packets of sugar. “Ignore them.”
Gabi scowled. “Do they mean that you’re not attractive?”
“Never mind,” I muttered.
“They are ones to talk,” she said. “I wouldn’t shag any of them with a borrowed vagina.” I regretted teaching her the word “shag.” I couldn’t regret her bluntness, as the lads were abruptly silenced. They glared a bit and left a few minutes later. One muttered “dykes” at us as he passed and I had to grab Gabi’s arm to make her stay in her seat.
“Leave it,” I pleaded. “Last thing we need is to end up arrested.” There were a couple of British Transport Police officers at the coffee counter right that moment.
Gabi tutted loudly and glared at their retreating backs. “Men as blind as that should not be driving,” she said. “And if they don’t think you’re attractive they must be blind as bats.”
“You’re sweet,” I said, looking round a bit nervously though.
“You mustn’t take such things to heart. The rattling of empty tins makes more sense than those fools. You are beautiful, and I’m prepared to fight anyone who says you’re not.”
The long, grey, and tiring start to the day kind of melted away into a warm glow. The clouds parted. A rainbow arced overhead. Birds tweeted and sunlight beamed down onto us.
“Oh, go on with you,” I said, and handed her a piece of cake.