Monday, May 3, 2010

When May Follows - Discussion Thread

At the end of When May Follows, Nanny sees 4 Magpies--for a boy. The Neels book Three For a Wedding refers to magpies I had to look up the rhyme on that all-knowing and unimpeachable source, Wikipedia, and after reading through several versions of the poem, found one that referred to both wedding and boys:
One for Sorrow
Two for Joy
Three for a Wedding
Four for a Boy
Five for a Fiddler
Six for a Dance
Seven for Old England
and Eight for France
[Betty Keira] I wondered how often even an old Nanny with nothing to do but look out the window, would see magpies in Holland. Also, I love how Nanny recommends her niece for devoted service because she's suitable--married but widowed, childless and semi-middle-aged, utterly without prospects or hopes of forming another attachment again in this life. Such is the stuff of devoted retainers.

Katrina shows her pluckiness by helping out with the yacht rescues, but then thinks, "what would have happened if she had been unable to swim?" Well, what would have happened? Raf would have swum out and saved the yacht party by himself, but there would have been no cuddling of toddlers (who takes a toddler on a boating trip without a back-up adult???) or splinting of broken bones. Neels has told us that she wasn't a swimmer and I wonder if she fantasized about being awesome at it.

Besides thinking of baby boys, Nanny also thinks of christening gowns and 'infusions of raspberry tea. Raspberry tea? Huh? Let's go back to Wikipedia for that one also:
Traditional lore recommends the use of raspberry leaf tea to pregnant women, especially as an aid in delivery...There is considerable discussion around the possible benefits of raspberry leaf tea taken late in pregnancy, and most sources agree that it should be avoided in early pregnancy. The consensus seems to be that while taking raspberry leaf tea should not be expected to bring the onset of labour forward, it may shorten the second stage of labour. Most of the evidence available is anecdotal, however a recent review stressed concern at the lack of evidence for safety and efficacy.
Betty Tia actually took castor oil to get delivery started. I remember walking on a curb (one foot on and one foot off) to loosen things up. Anyone else have any fun delivery starters that they've used?

At the engagement party Raf wants to invite the single vicar to 'make up the numbers'--even things out man/woman-wise. Who does this still?

The honeymoon hotel room is on 'the first floor'. We Yanks start counting at the bottom. Ground floor= first floor...etcetera. Brits start counting at the first floor above the ground. U.S. 2nd floor = Brit 1st floor. Okay so far...but what I'd like to know, is "What about the Mezzanine?" If anyone has seen the Hudsucker Proxy (besides my daughter and I and I! I love that movie.) you might remember a scene that takes place after the chairman of the board has jumped out of the window:Sidney J. Mussburger: Sure, sure he was a swell fella, but when the president, chairman of the board and owner of 87% of the company stock drops 44 floors...
Board Member 6: 45.
Board Member 7: Counting the mezzanine.
Sidney J. Mussburger: ...then the company too has a problem. What exactly is the disposition of Waring's stock.
Board Member 8: Well as you know, Hud left no will and had no family; the company bylaws are quite clear in that event. His entire portfolio will be converted into common stock and be sold over the counter as of the first of the fiscal year following his demise.
Sidney J. Mussburger: Meaning?
Board Member 8: Well, meaning simply that Waring stock, and control of the company, will be made available to the public January first.
Sidney J. Mussburger: Do you mean to say any slob in a smelly tee-shirt will be able to buy Hudsucker stock?
Board Member 8: The company bylaws are quite clear.
Board Member 3: My God, you're animals. How can you discuss his stock when the man has just leapt 45 floors?
Board Member 6: 44.
Board Member 7: Not counting the mezzanine.

Do you count the mezzanine? Dr. van der Stevejinck surprising chimed in on this question. At the large aircraft manufacturing company that he works for, there is a "mezzanine" out in the factory...all of the floors out there are 2 stories high, so the mezzanine is an intermediate floor (it's where you'll find the loo).

When I was between the ages of about 9 and 13, I would "fake sick" once or twice a year to get out school - and stay home alone (after careful perusal of the tv guide section of the paper - to make sure there was a morning movie worth watching). The deception was fairly intricate. I won't describe the efforts I went to here - I would hate to aid in deception, but let's just say, I don't think I really fooled my parents. They allowed an occaisional "sick day" with not too many questions asked. In When May Follows, Katrina fakes a headache to get out of talking with Raf about Beyke--when have you faked an illness?

The wedding takes less than a month to put together and the bride is very off-hand about flowers and details and whatnot. Since when have wedding people gained the right to look horrified when a bride wants a quicker tempo than a year long engagement? When my daughter got married, she had a 4 month engagement - which was fine with me, but boy, howdy, do wedding dress merchants look horrified. We drove down to Portland for a day of dress trying on with Betty Keira and Betty Tia - and whenever the saleslady would ask when the wedding was and we would say "March", their response was "this year???" To this day I have no idea how long it would have taken to buy a dress and have it altered (evidently more than 3 months). 2 months and a week for me and it went off simply and without a hitch. The wedding industry could be a little more accommodating to people who haven't been living in Brighton together for three years (and will continue in Brighton for the year-long engagement) and would like to get the wedding date over already. There is an entire demographic, for whom save-the-date announcements are ridiculous, that they are alienating due to inflexibility.


  1. Three weddings, so I have some experience here.

    Wedding #1: BritHub 1.0 had a "FiancĂ© Visa" which required him to go back to London (he'd been, uh, visiting Brighton, Pennsylvania...), have his interview with the Embassy, get the physical ("Cough, please. That will be £70."), then wait for the visa. Once he entered the US, we had 90 days in which to get married.

    Now, we had a date picked out (1/11/99) because it was my mother & father's wedding anniversary and my maternal grandparents' wedding anniversary. In our case, it was a Monday. I remember calling the florist the hotel recommended and asked about flowers. "Next month?!" he exclaimed. "I've been booked up for over a year." I said it was centerpieces for three tables and a bouquet. "Oh, well, that's nothing," he admitted and we were good. My dress & jacket were done by a fancy shop in Manhattan; that took a while, but it was sewn from scratch. Everything else was handled by the hotel.

    Wedding #2 was even hastier -- no flowers or fancy clothes, but when I tried to get a nice cake (not a wedding cake, just a nice cake for 8 people) the bakery was very sniffy. We settled, but it wasn't as good.

    Wedding #3 was in the UK and took about 8 months to organize. It cost a packet, despite being for only 30 people, but I was very lucky with all the specialists: florist, photographer, caterer, harpist, etc. That was my "big dress" wedding, and my only regret was that it's so "bride-centric" that I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have as a guest.

  2. "Since when have wedding people gained the right to look horrified when a bride wants a quicker tempo than a year long engagement?"

    No kidding. I had an 8 1/2 month engagement, which I thought was plenty of time, but apparently if you actually want to have a reception somewhere other than your backyard, it's asking a little much. It all worked out, though.

  3. As a Texan I recommend red enchiladas followed by multiple car rides over railroad tracks to speed the little overdue rugrats along.

  4. Ho ho ho Betty JoDee. I approve. As a VTer I recommend a 7 mile hike in the 2 feet of snow that fell in my town just 20 hours before I gave birth to rugrat #1 in January. Rugrat #2 came in October and required the EXACT same 7 mile hike on the day my labor started, but no snow, instead absolutely lovely fall weather with lots of falling, rustling leaves to swish my feet through. Very peaceful and serene, both walks, to prep me for the cursing and shouting to come later during the actual deliveries. As for long engagemens, please. Mine was six months long and I did absolutely no planning for the first 3 months. Then I got a lot of grief from the flower people and dress people, but absolutely none from the superb caterer and the reception hall. I said I'd make do with what I could get for flowers, and was delighted with what I got. Bought a dress off the rack and had it altered by a talented friend. Entire wedding, including harpist (friend's kid), string quartet (friend's kids), smashing dinner (caterer a friend), cake, only one bridesmaid and one groomsman, one flower girl, no ring bearer, 100 guests, around $3000 US, 11 years ago. Friends still say it was one of the best they've been to and I loved it, which is the point, I think. I made it a goal to keep it affordable since I preferred spending my budget on the honeymoon on Italy. It can be done, and just do what's important to you. I'm not knocking anyone who wants the $20,000 or $50,000 wedding, just not my style.

  5. I have to admit that I am appalled at the excesses of the insane wedding "industry." It's like all these brides watched the wedding of Princess Diana and thought, "Ooh, I want one like that." NOTE: She was marrying the future KING OF ENGLAND AND it didn't turn out so well. TWO WORDS: cake and punch.

    To ALHC: my wedding also cost $3000 complete with a gown I designed myself and the local seamstress made, 3 sister bridesmaids, 9 flower girls and ring bearers (nieces and nephews), lovely flowers, and friends and family attending. Sixteen years and four kids later I'm still very married without having spent the gold from Fort Knox.

  6. Dr. van der Stevejinck and I tied the knot and celebrated for under $500 - and that probably includes the rings. My dress cost right around $75 - about half of that was the cost of having it made at the tailoring lab on campus (the lab had the glorified name of "Campus Couture"). Lovely ceremony, cake and punch at my in-laws home (we were supposed to be in their beautiful backyard...but the wind was kicking up so much we couldn't - so we recieved our guests in the living room, they shuffled off to the dining room/second living room and spilled over into the front yard. Good times.

    Thirty years and six kids later I'm also still very happily married.

    We've married off three of the kiddies - to the tune of less than $2000-ish each. All their weddings have been fancier than mine, (a little more than cake and punch), but they've all been fun.

  7. Whenever I hear those really high numbers for the average cost of weddings ($20,000-ish) and factor in mine (around $1200 including dress and rings), it makes me wonder who exceeds the average in order to offset my penny-wise nuptials.

  8. Congratulations ladies! I am a huge fan of inexpensive weddings and in fact all the pricy weddings I've been to just blur in my mind -- it's like they were all the same wedding, if you know what I mean. Instead, the slightly kooky, offbeat inexpensive ones are the ones I recall the best. Bands that comprised of the couple's friends; food made by the families; weddings at homes or camps or beaches instead of anonymous cookie cutter hotels....