Back from Poland. How can you not like a country where the taxi-drivers kiss your hand? And the coffee is so good?
For reasons which escape me, we decided to take all three children to the Krakow wedding. My boys, seven and five, wore pin-striped suits. We went shopping for them in M&S. I expected to buy them a nice tee-shirt and new chinos; instead they became fixated on blue-pinstriped suits which "make us look like Daddy." They looked like very short accountants and I looked like the sort of mother who would make her boys wear suits.
The ceremony was in an enormous baroque barn of a church with a priest I thought might die before he got to the end of the service while the reception was in a restaurant with a cavalry theme. Every where you looked there were black and white photographs of soldiers with sabres staring into the mid-distance as they sat on their brave battle-hardened horses. I thought that was an interesting message to send out at the start of married life.
The wedding mixed English and Polish traditions that is to say every now and then the Polish table got to its feet and raised a glass of chilled vodka to the English table who all looked very worried by the fact they could not get a cup of tea and instead they might be expected to get horribly drunk, horribly quickly. In cultural revenge, the best man (my own dear husband) made a speech which had been translated into Polish and was read out paragraph by paragraph by the Polish bride's chief bridesmaid. The Poles were all very interested by this because they do not have any such tradition. (I imagine they could not possibly have a tradition of wedding speeches courtesy of the vodka.) Also since this was a wedding of two people who only met a year ago, they took it as an opportunity to acquire in-depth, intimate information on the bridegroom. My husband said to me later in the night: "Apparently, all the Poles thought it was great because they got to know so much about the groom." I said: "You spent most of the speech talking about how desperate he was to have sex at university and how bad his taste in music was." My husband shrugged.
We are now at the age where we have started getting invitations to weddings the second time around. The groom already has twin girls of 11 who acted as bridesmaids along with a pretty, sombre-faced, seven-year-old Polish child. I do believe that one of the best things about weddings are the little girls.
Small girls in long cream lace dresses, twisted coronets of silvered metal in their hair danced to Polish pop. Butterfly chiffon friends in Monsoon prettiness held hands and twirli-gigged round, taking their turn - as girls do - to jump into the golden centre, raise plump and perfect arms and giggle at their spotlit cheek. At a nod, they would abandon the dance and dash into the darkness of the courtyard for games of tig and tag and scarecrow. I played with them. Brave, they enquired: "What time is it Mr Wolf?" "Two o'clock," I growled. "Three o'clock". They silk slipper-stepped forward some more across the hard ground covered with worn down rose petals. "Dinner time" and screams bounced off ancient stones as I leapt on them to slavering eat them up as time and wolves will do to small and lovely girls.