Vote YES for Equality
Two very important things are going to happen on the 22nd May this year, one is a fairly big milestone birthday for me the second is that Irish people get to vote in a referendum on marriage equality. Both these events are highly important but the second will have a lasting impact on the lives of more people so I am going to admit that the vote is more important than the birthday.
Not so long ago I would have been considered to be living in sin, IN SIN. That seems hilarious now but I remember those words having real meaning to people’s lives in Ireland. This little country has a lovely history of ascribing stigma to things that could usher in social change. Free availability of contraception (1992), they’ll all be at it! Decriminalising homosexuality (1993), we’ll all be gay now! Divorce (1996), Jesus it’s all over now! Well the world didn’t end but society as we knew it did and that was a great thing, the society we had back then was cruel and restrictive. That was the society that allowed for Magdalene laundries, clerical and institutional child abuse, limited rights for women, no rights for children born outside of marriage, no rights for gay people. That change required people to act and if you want all people in this country to have the right to marry then you need to act, you need to make sure to vote because you can be certain that the people who are motivated by fear will go out and vote no.
I am not going to be tripping down the aisle anytime soon, it is not for me but I realise I am in an incredibly privileged position to be able to say that because I have a choice. I have been afforded the right to make that decision, it was mine to make, no government, no religion, no bigot was telling me that I couldn’t marry the person I have chosen to share my life with. Every person in this country should be able to make that decision themselves.
Not being married myself my naïve understanding of marriage is that it should be between two people for whom the act of standing before friends and family and declaring their love has a deep meaning. The ceremony has meaning, the vows have meaning, making those vows publicly, surrounded by love has meaning. Having that act of mutual devotion recognised by law has huge meaning. The fact that there are people fighting for this right tells me that marriage has meaning to them.
Everyone should have the right to nervously plan a proposal, to have that moment when someone says yes, to plan more than a wedding but a life together. Partner is a cold word, any woman should be able to look at the love of her life and call her wife, any man should be able to be able to introduce the man who shares his life as his husband. On a selfish note I really want to see my boyfriend one day walk his daughter down the aisle towards her future wife because I know how much that moment will mean to both of them. There is not a person alive who could come at me with an argument that could convince me that they should not have that moment. That seventeen year old girl is out campaigning for this right alongside the rest of the bright, brave, hopefully people who will usher in a better society not just for themselves but for everyone.
I love that this vote is happening on my birthday. I hope to cap off my natal celebrations by popping a bottle of bubbly to a Yes vote. I really want there to be a resounding Yes, a joyful Yes, a Yes that carries Ireland further away from its grey grim past in to the future. Please go out and vote and vote YES.
The Probelm with being Celiac at a Wedding
I love a good wedding. My usual uniform is jeans, t-shirts and boots so I like an excuse to get properly dressed up. I love a room full of flowers, I love the shuffle as everyone stands and turns to watch the Bride walk down the aisle, I will pretty much always get a bit teary eyed at the ceremony, I like that everyone is happy and smiling and I love a bit of dancing. What I don’t look forward to are the deserts.
If you are celiac desert at a hotel wedding, even if that hotel usually caters beautifully for celiac, is often a massive disappointment. You watch everyone else being served something delightful and then three slices of cold hard melon and a single strawberry are plopped unceremoniously in front of you.
With all of the flourless deserts in the world I do not understand why I am always presented with a dodgy fruit salad. A good fruit salad, full of ripe, sweet, succulent fruit would be great, but I fear that what I usually get are the leftovers from the breakfast buffet. Occasionally I might get a meringue but it is usually served without cream for some reason. So there I am with a mouthful of sugar and egg dust and some frigid fruit.
Another option is ice cream and really I don’t want the same desert that is being served at the kids table when I am in my grown up finery and nursing a glass of red wine.
In the hopes that some hotel out there will do a bit of research and be brave with their deserts I am presenting a few ideas for easy Gluten Free deserts. Some of these you could easily make for the whole wedding party and just have the one option so the GF person feels warm and included.
• Cheese board and a pack of pre bought GF crackers. NO fuss involved, put some cheese on a plate, open the crackers and send it out. Job done.
• A really good pavlova filled with seasonal fruit.
• A flourless chocolate cake.
• Chocolate mousse, strawberry mousse, any kind of mousse really.
• A chocolate roulade, there are approximately one hundred recipes online for flourless roulade
• Fruit meringue roulade, flour free, light and delicious.
• Cheesecake made using Gluten Free digestive biscuits. Again half the work is done for you.
• Fruit crumble made with Gluten Free four or ground almonds and nuts. Easy and delicious for an Autumn wedding
• A ridiculously indulgent custardy bread pudding made with GF bread, perfect for a Winter wedding
• Crème Brulee
• Crème Caramel
• Eton Mess, really what could be easier or prettier.
• Lemon Posset, this seems to be on every other menu now days.
Now that I have covered desert I would like to mention the need for there to be some celiac option provided for the celiac guest when the tea, sandwiches and wedding cake are being handed out late in the evening. We have had as much booze, danced as hard and been up as long as all the other guests and to expect us to sit and watch everyone else sup on the evening’s refreshment while we are offered nothing is just bad hospitality.
One of my fondest wedding memories ifs of an assistant manager noticing that I was sitting morose and hungry and running out to the kitchen to arrange for some cheese and toast to be brought out to me, it was basic but tasty and filled the need and I was so grateful to that woman as she most likely saved me from a massive hangover.
I plead with hotels / caterers to really think about the needs of all their guests. The bride and groom are forking out just as much for my meal as for everyone else’s and she should get her money’s worth.
Be brave, be inventive, do your research and please make the effort.
What people don’t tell you about planning a wedding
With the perspective that only time can grant I would like to offer a few observations that are not generally discussed while wedding planning.
- How comfortable you become telling loved ones to ‘F’ off
Wedding planning can be a stressful time. As with most major life events, everyone has an opinion on what the wedding should be like and for some reason the most uninformed hold their opinion the strongest. However one positive I really gained from the experience was how comfortable I became with telling my nearest and dearest to just shove it where the sun don’t shine, regardless of what ‘it’ was. As time went on I derived more joy than I really should have from saying it to people. I very quickly learned that the only opinions that mattered were mine and my partners, so I learned to smile, nod, and file the advice in the trash can. This has stood to me well in life following the wedding too.
- How everyone has a surprisingly strong opinion on price and priorities
This piece of advice comes from a friend’s experience, but please do not let anyone tell you what you should pay for any part of your wedding. A wedding dress for instance can be a simple white dress from Penneys for e7 or a designer dress costing e100ks, with every other dress being somewhere in between. Much like house prices, the cost of dresses are dictated by what the materials they are made from and the market rate. You deserve a beautiful dress and so long as it is within budget, if you find one that you like (that does not look like it came from Big Fat Gypsy Weddings) then tell everyone else to eff off and buy it for yourself. That goes for everything else as well. Different things are more important to different people. Kate Moss rearranged her whole wedding to get the photographer she wanted – pictures being more important than a date to a professional model. I spent hours on stationary, because I love paper and it was important to me, while a friend spend 20 minutes following the design wizard and ordered everything on Vistaprint, while another got Daintree to do everything from picking the colours to sealing the envelopes. Each to their own.
- How some suppliers are under the impression that they will stay in business long term even if they constantly tell clients their requirements are not possible
Laugh at anyone who says you can’t have what you want in your timeframe – time equals money and in such a competitive industry there will always be someone to supply exactly what you want, when you want it, while wearing a smile and offering you champagne as they do. Please bear this in mind when confronted by a supplier that gets the impression that you need them more than they need you.
- How sometimes tolerating insulting dress shop assistance is worth it to try on *those* dresses
There are literally hundreds of wedding dress shops out there, but unfortunately a lot of them stock very similar merchandise. If you are looking for something a little bit different, I suggest that you try some of the specialist vintage stores. Even if you do not ultimately want to wear a vintage dress on your big day, these shops can be very inspiring, as they give you an opportunity to try styles which are out of fashion at the moment, but are extremely flattering to your figure. But, be warned, in true vintage stores, everything is designed for the very young bride (it being the fashion in bygone times to marry at 18) so everything is on the small side, and the women who own these shops are usually in dire need of a customer-service course, so be prepared for some old biddy to comment on your thick waist or engorged boobs, while manhandling your body like she is stacking recalcitrant oranges.
- How some suppliers forget it’s your wedding that is being planned and not theirs
Once we were engaged my partner and I wandered around wedding venues like two unschooled toddlers, picking up shiny things and generally not having clue what we wanted or why. On our first outing with a hotel wedding coordinator, she asked us what was the theme of our wedding. My partner took a moment and replied quite bluntly ‘I thought wedding was the theme’. In response he received her best withering stare (she must work on that at home with a mirror), then turned to me and suggested that we go home until we were going to take this a little more seriously.
I won’t lie, we went home a little shame faced and dejected, and sat down to concoct some suitable answer to this ridiculous question. We spent several horrifying months trapped in similar situations. At the start of the weekend we would be excited and giddy about planning the wedding, by the end of the weekend we would be huddled on our couch, drinking to forget the horrors “..you enter here, cross the petal lined floor, either side of the live swans, not too close because they bite..”, blocking out images of brides unable to move without a swarm of bridesmaids, and people asking What Would Martha Steward Do?
- How difficult it can be to find an ready-to-wear dress that is a little off the beaten track
Dress shopping was a real eye-opener for me. When I started I was pretty confident I knew what I wanted and what would suit me. I was horrified by some of the “items” my chief bridesmaid convinced me to try on, in terms of style, quality, price and how big my a*se looked in them, but was then pleasantly surprised by others I thought I would hate (my dream dress turning out to be a diamondee encrusted meringue that could have got us on a reality TV show). In general, however, I felt that most of the dresses I tried on looked the same; floor-length meringues. I had palpitations every time I was shoved into one of them. I felt constrained and claustrophobic. I was helped out of the dressing room by dumpy middle-aged woman, muscles bulging under the weight of the petticoats and boning, and directed to a plinth upon which I was put on show to everyone in the shop, who gathered around and assessed me (not necessarily flatteringly). While they twittered away, I stood looking at my reflection thinking how impractical the dress seemed to me. How would I dance, or sit, or eat, or walk, or use the bathroom? When I voiced these fears aloud everyone in the shop smiled a little knowing, patronizing smile and said “but you look like a princess, dear, you don’t need those other things.” Ermmm …. I think my bladder would disagree! I soon made up my mind that I was having a short dress- even if I have to make it myself from toilet paper (thankfully I found the excellent dressmaker Sarah Foy, so that wasn’t necessary).
Wedding Day Dos and Don’t
Dah, dah, tadah. Dah, dah, tadah….. yup, it is finally here – the day you have been planning for since one sucker got down on one knee and the other eejit said why not? – it’s your wedding day.
You have planned. You have organised. You have quarrelled over the guest list and what is or is not appropriate for wedding transportation. You have sobbed in frustration and threatened to call the whole thing off, only to fall madly back in love twenty minutes later. You have compared four different shades of midnight forest green ribbons to find that just-right colour match. You have crafted until the bandages covering your paper-cuts look like you have third degree burns.
But it’s done. All that angst is in the past, and you are in the present, in your beautiful, sparkling, splenouriferous moment – your wedding day. But before you launch right in like an overexcited toddler into a sweet factory, here are a few tips to keep this love train from turning into a speeding off-the-tracks nightmare.
Let’s start with the Don’ts
- Don’t get too drunk.
This can happen more easily that you think; a combination of weeks of dieting to squeeze into the dress, a very early start that morning, a champagne breakfast and before you know it your head is spinning and you are telling the same story twice.
It’s a bridal nightmare, as a guest it’s embarrassing to watch and can really effect the mood of the day. So go easy on the champagne over breakfast, try to eat some actual food, and forewarn your bridesmaids to supply plenty of fizzy drinks and water if you look like you are coming to a tipping point.
This rule also applies to the gentlemen; usually the men have to give a speech (rather than the bride’s optional one) be they the groom or the best man. Slurred speech and inappropriate jokes that are hilarious when drunk are less funny when you are watching the wedding video back with your in-laws. So go easy on the Dutch courage.
- Don’t argue with suppliers.
This is the one day where you really ought to channel your serene inner goddess. Things will go wrong, things will be delayed, there will be hiccups – dispatch a bridesmaid/groomsman/mother to deal with it and you go back to enjoying your party. There is amazing power in a third party saying to a supplier “the bride wants ….. now”: there is less power in a screaming harpy shaking a bouquet aggressively at a supplier while she hitches up the white fufu number in order to chase them. At all times remember this is a day for dignity and serenity. Plus you can always sue them tomorrow.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Despite my wedding being a relatively informal affair, being specifically warned not to do it in writing (our wedding website) and knowing I would be wearing a short white dress, my just-recently-married sister-in-law decided to wear a white dress to my wedding.
Yes, it’s in bad taste, and yes, it caused a lot of negative comments among the guests on the day, and yes, the photographer had to be creative when he did the family pictures as there are only two girls on that side of the family (me and my sister-in-law) and at first glance it was hard to spot the bride as we were both in white.
But actually, on the day, I didn’t care. In my serene champagne filled bubble I gave her the benefit of the doubt and thought she probably only considered herself and the dress rather the occasion to which she was wearing it, and in fairness to her, she does look well in white. Having no power to change the situation (having double checked that there were no handy buckets of red paint on the premise) I accepted it and moved on.
If it still bothers me when I get around to making our photo album I’ll rewrite history and use Photoshop to put her in a muck brown disaster and post it all over Facebook.
And after all that, let’s get to some Do’s
- Enjoy feeling like a rockstar.
This is the one day where everyone will be standing around in clusters remarking on how beautiful you look, everyone is eager to get you anything that you want or need and there are a band of paparazzi following your every move. This is your Beyonce moment – relish it.
- Accept that some things will go wrong.
Our first dance was a disaster. My groom had been sick before the wedding so he didn’t have the strength for us to practice the steps enough. On the day he was so tired by the time it came to the First Dance and his legs cramped, while I got distracted by the lights and forgot some of the steps. Disaster. But do you know what, that happens. We laughed at ourselves, we salvaged the situation, and aside from thinking we were yet another couple who can’t dance, I don’t think anyone else noticed.
- Remember to say hi to all the guests.
People have put in a huge amount of effort to get all dolled-up and be present for your big day, remember to be gracious and thank them in person. Mingle at your reception, and between courses of the meal go to each table and say hi, that way you get to talk to people in bunches rather than finding them all individually.
- Let your hair down after the meal (metaphorically speaking).
As far as I am concerned once the meal finishes the formalities of the day are complete, it’s time to let loose and party. If you have said hi to everyone already than search out your mates, get someone to pour a nice glass of vino and slip into your dancing shoes. There is nothing more enjoyable that watching a bride/groom having a good ole time (well, with the exception of being the bride having a good ole time).
- Remember to take some time out to savour the day with your bride/groom.
This is it. This is your big day. It is actually happening. Take just a few minutes to stand together, hold hands, look at each other, look at your party and remember this feeling. This is happiness.
Engagement Shots – Frivolous Expense or Missed Opportunity
A number of wedding bloggers and websites have noted the increase of couples having professional engagement shots, although I have noticed the tone of these observations is twinge’d slightly with a tone of scepticism or incredulity, as though this were a needless expense that only rich kids from the Hamptons would bother doing. For me those writers are being blinded by the pretty and miss what is really going on behind the pictures, so please let me make the case for the engagement shoot.
To my eyes engagement shots serve three important functions;
1. You and your beau get the experience of being professionally photographed.
For those of us who are not models, being professionally photographed is probably a rare if not one-time experience. Add on top of this that most people don’t like getting their picture taken, and that Irish people can feel a little awkward showing affection toward their beloved in public (sober; drunk I find can be a very different matter) and you have a recipe for some stilted, uncomfortable-looking shots. Probably not the look you were going for in your wedding album. An engagement photo shot gives time to allow the couple to get used to the idea that someone is focused solely on them, they are armed with a camera and it is not going to kill them. There is no time for this adjustment on your wedding day when the camera basically starts flashing from the moment the photographer arrives on the scene.
Plus, if your photographer is worth their salt they will probably give you a few posing tips, or do some slightly different things in the pictures that you may not want for your wedding album.
2. You and your beau get the experience of working with this particular photographer
Photography is an expensive business, and the prices that wedding photographers charge is no joke. Before you drop that non-refundable lump-sum deposit it can be nice to have an opportunity to experience what it will be like to work with this photographer. It is too late on your wedding day to discover that not only is the photographer bossy, rude and obnoxious, they are taking WAY too long to do every shot, and have held you and your bridal party hostage for 4 hours at this point. You need to discover this before the big day. So unless you have been to a wedding and closely (not from behind a champagne glass a football field away from the bridal party being put through their paces) observed the photographer at work, the engagement shot can be an excellent re-con mission. If you are already 70/80% sure you are going to pick your chosen photographer for your big day, then there is a good chance that you really like their work, so even if you have a terrible experience on the engagement shot, you will walk away with an incredible set of prints and will now be armed with more experience with which to select a new photographer – bullet dodged.
3. You and your beau get a beautiful set of images that can be used everywhere, during the wedding and after.
We were lucky enough to have worked with our photographer before the wedding, so didn’t need the engagement shot as a trial run, but when our good friend Vicky Owens offered to gift us an engagement shot we LEAPED at the chance! We spent a beautiful day down in Castletown house, getting used to the idea that the camera would at no point omit death lasers, and were rewarded for all our hard work (there was sitting and standing and laughing – tough day at the office) with about 50 beautiful pictures ….
…that showed up everywhere in our wedding.
We used them for the guest book, we used them for the website, we used them for the table decorations and if people wanted, we had signed copies to give away as they exited the venue (like the celebrities that we are). It was one of the best gifts we ever received.
Then after the wedding we used them to decorate our home. We have two pictures in our front room, one large picture in our guest room (lest our guest wake up and forget who their hosts are), one picture in our room and we hung the Guest Book over the stairs. So in our house, you are quite literally surrounded by our love for one another. The reason I chose the engagement shots to decorate the house is partially because they are better shots (sorry Ryan, calling it like I see it) but also because they are less formal and less obtrusive than a three-piece suit and a big white dress.
Wedding Rejection Letters
One of the saddest things to see seep into a wedding is the shift from a celebration of love between two ordinary but intertwined souls to a wedding that is little more than a status symbol. Instead of a celebration of mutual adoration there is a pompous formality convened with the sole purpose of showing-off the wealth and standing of the couple. When the boom went bust and flashing the cash was no longer the ‘done’ thing, people moved to other avenues of more subtly illustrating status. It was no longer their nearest and dearest that were the prize invitees, they were just the spectators, instead it became about the celebrity invitee – the Government Minister, who is a dear friend of the family, don’tchaknoow, or the National Sports Hero who turns out to be a distant cousin twice removed of one of the intended, or the girl from the telly who once went to school with the bride’s sister for two years in primary school.
So for our wedding, as we battled over the guest list, refusing to invite anyone we had not seen face-to-face in the last year, no matter how influential or important they were in the wider world (with the exception of my Australian relatives), it tickled our fancy to consider all the truly important and wonderful people in the world who would rather be anywhere else, doing anything else, other than attending our wedding (because what else is a wedding for other than to mock the traditions and attitudes others in your society hold dear).
As we considered the decorations for our reception area, we thought what better centre pieces could there be other than ten rejection letters from the most influential people on the planet. For us it served as a reminder to enjoy the day for what it was – a celebration at the merger of two
corporate giants families.
To relay any concerns that we may actually have written to these people and be on some sort of government watch list ourselves, we did not; these are fictional forgeries of what could have been.
|Difficulty of Project:||Super Easy|
|Overall Cost of Project:||Price of printing (so practically free)|
|Frames for finished product
(Ikea Nyttja frames – 10 pictures x e3 per frame= e30)
|Required for this project:|
|Access to colour printer|
|Duration of project:||Few hours spread over a few weeks|
1. To start we selected ten international figures from the world stage that, if we were as influential the Beckhams, we would invite to our wedding. They were:
- The Obamas,
- Beyonce & Jay-Z,
- Mr Kipling (maker of the exceedingly good biscuits),
- Kim Jong Il and his son, Kim Jong Un (because it’s good to get rarely seen celebs at your party, plus he invented the desk – how cool is that!?),
- Clowns without Boarders (a real organisation that go to war-torn areas and do clown gags),
- Stephen Hawkins (a hero of ours),
- Will and Kate (because who knows, it’s not like they would be traveling that far),
- Agatha Christy (because I just love her, even though I know her arrival at our wedding would have signalled that zombie were amongst us) and
- Vladimir Putin (because it’s always good to have a villain)
2. Then we used their websites and google images to find images we could use to make our interpretation of their headed paper.
3. We wrote the letters we think we would have received from these people, adding funny footnotes, to reward those who really looked at them closely.
1. The Obamas
Dear John & Cathy,
Thank you for your polite invitation, but given the terms of the restraining order, I feel it would be inappropriate for us to join you on your big day.
Hope all goes well for you guys,
Barack Obama – President of USA
Pursuant to federal law all government-produced materials appearing in this letter may not apply to the same value of truth as would normally be expected. The United States Government hold the right to interpret the value of truth by assignment, bequest, or otherwise.
- Beyonce & Jay-Z,
Dear John & Cathy,
On behalf of Ms Knowles I would like to thank you for your very thoughtful invitation. However given that neither Beyonce nor Jay-Z have ever heard of you, they will not be joining you on your big day. I have enclosed an autographed picture as a consolation.
All the best for the future.
Sony Music Entertainment, Beyonce Management Team
This is an official letter from the Beyonce Management Team. Any mocking of the letter shall be interpreted as a mocking of Beyonce herself and will not be tolerated. Any views of opinion expresses within this letter do not necessarily represent the views of either the artist, Sony Entertainment, the artist’s Management Team, the person who sent the letter or the post men and women who delivered it. Please have a nice day.
Dearest John & Cathy,
How did you get this address??
Hoping you have an exceedingly good day,
4a. Kim Jong Il
Submission of Form 58-74 책에, signalling your desire to have Supreme Leader of North Korea, His Excellency,Kim Jong-il, Party Centre; Superior Person; Dear, Respected, Wise, Brilliant, Unique, Great, Peerless Leader, who is a perfect incarnation of the appearance that a leader should have; Commander-in-Chief; Father of the People; Sun of the Communist Future; Shining Star of Paektu Mountain; Guiding Sun Ray; Leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces; Guarantee of the Fatherland’s Unification; Symbol of the Fatherland’s Unification; Fate of the Nation; Beloved Father; Leader of the Party, the country, and the Army; Great Leader of our Party and of our Nation; Beloved and Respected General, and Leader; Ever-Victorious, Iron-Willed Commander; Sun of Socialism; Sun of the Nation; The Great Sun of Life; World Leader of The 21st Century; Great Bright Sun of the 21st Century; Amazing politician; Glorious General, who Descended From Heaven; Supreme Leader of the Nation; Bright Sun of Juche; Leader of the Party and the People; Great Marshal; Invincible and Ever-triumphant General; Beloved and Respected Father; Guiding Star of the 21st Century; Great Man, Who Is a Man of Deeds; Great Defender; Savoir; Mastermind of the Revolution; Highest Incarnation of the Revolutionary Comradely Love join you on Juche 101, 28th July has been rejected.
Retribution for the insolence shown by your submission shall follow.
Korean People’s Army
4b. and his son, Kim Jong Un
I have thought of you often since our time in Bern, and your invitation (although much interfered with and I think nibbled by our giant rabbits) drew me back to a carefree time in my life. However since my succession to my rightful place as Supreme Leader of the Universe, I no longer acknowledge the existence of the outside world, or the ghosts which reside therein.
Also, it may be of interest for you to note, that since your invitation to my father was received only days before his death, it has been viewed as a successful attack by the West on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. I am told plans for suitable retribution are underway.
Wishing you all the best in your married life.
Your communication was received 23rd June, 2012.
It is government policy not to negotiate with terrorists.
With violent radicals of any flag, there shall be no talks at any level. There is no foolish delusion that an argument can make peace. We do not engage, and we will not engage.
Release the clowns or the circus will have its retribution. Your reception will not be saved from frivolity.
Code of the Clown: The objective of this code is to provide a series of written guidelines of ethics for all clowns and artists who collaborate with Clowns Without Borders: The clown or collaborating artist will hold as fundamental objectives to better the situation of children who live in crisis situations of whatever type (conflict, natural disaster, social inequalities, etc.) in whatever part of the world. The main beneficiaries of CWB projects are children living in situations of crisis and the clown or collaborating artist will make no distinction between them for reasons of race, age, religion, culture, social situation or any other categorization when offering his/her work. For clowns and collaborating artists participating in CWB projects, volunteerism is the general rule. In respect to the clown/artist’s public image, he/she will not use the participation in humanitarian activities as a means to promote their professional career, separating clearly at all times such activities and not using his humanitarian work for publicity purposes or to promote his/her professional career, such as it may be.
Dear Sir / Madam,
Unfortunately Professor Hawking is unable to respond to specific scientific enquiries, academic theories, requests for voicemail service, party appearances or nuptial initiations. Please do not email these as although they may be valid, we simply do not have the resources to comment on them.
PA to Stephen Hawking CH, CBE, FRS
I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive: we’ve created life in our own image. Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change, although it is not clear that intelligence has any long-term survival value. It is no good getting furious if you get stuck. What I do is keep thinking about the problem but work on something else. Sometimes it is years before I see the way forward. In the case of information loss and black holes, it was 29 years. The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing? The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be divinely inspired. I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road. There are grounds for cautious optimism that we may now be near the end of the search for the ultimate laws of nature. To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit. We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.
Dear John & Cathy,
Despite the current campaign to make the House of Windsor appear more human and familiar to peasants such as yourselves, the fact remains that William and Catherine are not your friends, and therefore will not be attending your wedding.
We in the press-office however never turn down a good party – see you there!
pp. Persil Whayenstooth
simply a better class of person
Your Reference: Inappropriate Invitation
Our Reference: Crackpot Timewasters
Dear Mr Clarke & Ms Gibbons,
The insensitive nature of your invitation is matched only by its audacity.
Don’t save a seat or expect a gift.
Please see invoice for this letter attached.
Jonathan Heartingsberg III
The Estate of Agatha Christy
Well, now dears, a marriage indeed. Yes, now. You see, I knew very well that something was afoot, what with all the fuss and whatnot, but I could not see it clearly what the thing was until the invitation arrived. My suspicions began when Miss Codswad slipped from the pier. I had been there myself earlier and had not found it unsafe, and given the calm seas could not see how it would become so. No. No, what happened was that Mrs Fidleton pushed Miss Codswad from the pier, when the two were out walking, hoping to disguise it in some way when Miss Codswad came from the water. She did not intend to kill her, just to somehow injure her, to prevent her from dancing at the wedding with Mr Flanderspoon, who would then have to ask another, leaving Miss Codswad in the company of Mr Fidleton Jr. Beauty can be as dangerous as wealth, much coveted and often inspiring the most dangerous of all: jealousy, and a mother does not like to see her son so distressed. Unfortunately Mrs Fidleton did not know that Miss Codswad suffered from Roxtoxiphobia, and when she reached the water the fear consumed her and she drowned. In a fit of panic, when Mrs Fidleton realised what was happening she herself jumped from the pier, which is when you happened upon the scene Inspector. Mrs Fidleton was not helping Miss Codswad because she loved her, but rather because she loved herself. Yes. Reminds me of the Brother’s Wife in Saint Mary Meade. Sad sort really. Hum
Dear Mr Clarke & Ms Gibbons,
Given that the date of your union has long been prophesied as being the day hell will freeze over and the world will end, I will be busy putting my affairs in order on that date.
Thank you for the early notification of the impending doom.
Premier of Russia
All hail Mother Russia. All hail Mother Russia. All hail Mother Russia. All hail Mother Russia. All hail Mother Russia. All hail Mother Russia. All hail Mother Russia. All hail Mother Russia. All hail Mother Russia. All hail Mother Russia. All hail Mother Russia. All hail Mother Russia. All hail Mother Russia. All hail Mother Russia.
Were they a success?
Well we thought they were hilarious, and actually have them displayed in our landing. Some relatives were concerned that we would end up on some sort of watch list even if they were just forgeries. Others just didn’t get it – they didn’t understand why you would want to brag about people not wanting to come to your wedding. Others still talk about them to this day – as being one of the funniest parts of our slightly crazy wedding.
a) The Obamas,