Time out till 3 January. Happy New Year everyone – and look out for the photos and the safari news when we get back!
On Facebook, search for Wedding Angel Photography:
The batteries for the Lumix and the Nikon have been fully charged. Spare memory cards have been stowed. I have tried out the 2x teleconverter with the 18-200mm zoom lens: it seems to work perfectly. His and hers binoculars are packed. A visit to the mall: men’s and women’s shorts; a water bottle and head-lamp for me, sunglasses from Cape Union Mart. Dis-Chem for bug spray, eye-drops, and other requisites.
Our bags are packed, money counted – rands and US dollars. Passports in order. Rob’s paperwork, to exit the country hopefully without having to pay a fine – her South African visa has expired but her application for residence is in process.
Reading matter. Walking shoes and sandals. Bathing costumes (mine has gone amiss, so I have packed gym shorts!).
Just after 10 tomorrow morning we fly to Maun; then a short 15 minute flight to Oddballs camp to begin our honeymoon.
Tomorrow, I said to Rob this morning, is our one-week-a-versary.
We are good to go, my wife and I!
Jonathan and Hayley flew back to snow-covered London last night, after Christmas in bright and sunny Cape Town. My sister and my mom fly home to Durban and Cape Town today, after spending Christmas here with us. Cynthia departs tomorrow for her tour of Namibia. And on Tuesday Rob and I fly to Maun, in Botswana, to begin our honeymoon.
So the gathering is dispersed; but the change in our lives continues.
I was going to say, I don’t know if you saw what happened back there. It was all gone in a flash. But the intention, I believe, is to make sure that the light and the warmth from that flash, that arc of light across our lives, lasts for a very, very long time.
Thirty years at least, I have promised Rob. It might not always be pretty, but it will, you can be sure, always be me.
Before I welcome you all, and thank you, I want to thank my wife: thank you, Rob, for finding me when I was lost; thank you for catching me when I fell; thank you for promising to be there for me, and with me, through all the years that lie ahead.
It might surprise Rob, and it might surprise our friends and family too, to know that when I first sat down to think about what I should say at this dinner, after our wedding and the toasts and the photographs, between the wine tasters and the courses of this six course meal, I couldn’t think of anything. I am not often lost for words, but I had to ask myself, how do you get up and say something meaningful, something fresh and new, about something that seems so obvious? We are so easy together, Rob and I; so comfortable and happy together; we constantly amuse and occasionally frustrate but mostly enjoy and love and appreciate each other – what can one possibly say about that? As I say, it all seems so natural and so obvious.
And then I thought, it hasn’t always been this easy or this good; what seems at one level so unremarkable is truly special and very remarkable, precisely because it comes with so little pain, so little stress and unhappiness, and – let me say this – with some attractions and rewards too, which we shall not discuss at the dinner table.
Rob, I know that this wedding and this marriage means a huge amount to you. You’ve believed in us and looked forward to this moment, for a very long time. That there have been the occasional jitters and melt-downs along the way, is part of the necessary drama of such a momentous and life-changing occasion!
You pretty much promised to cry from start to finish, which I presume must mean that you are very happy. I want you to know that our wedding and our marriage means everything to me, too, and our happiness together seems to me quite as overwhelming as it is a wonderful and precious prospect. You are the one woman I love and want to spend the rest of my life with.
Long may our happiness and our joy in each other last – to Rob [toast].
There are many more things that need to be said, that will be said later, around the campfire in the boma. But I do want to say this, before I close: thank you, each one of you, for coming, and for being here to share our wedding with us. A wedding, as you know, is not just a party for family and friends – it is something far more profound. It is a moment when two people make vows to one another, in the presence of those who are dearest and closest to them; it is an act of trust and commitment before witnesses. Thank you for being our witnesses, and for coming from far and near to share this moment with us.
It is hugely important for Rob, and for me too, that her sister Cynthia is here with us tonight, after a journey that must have worn her out body and soul; and her cousin Alida and her husband Bob, who have flown in like Cynthia from the other side of the world – a side of the world that is also, in a very real sense, now my home too.
I am no less happy that my mother Yvonne can be here, and my sister Laura. I know my father would have been here too, and I’m sure he is, in some way, here with us in spirit. But most especially I want to thank my children: not simply for playing so beautifully for us – it means so much to Rob and to me that you did play for us – not simply for the work and the love that went into all the preparations – but simply for being here. I want you to know that I don’t take for granted, for a minute, the love you have shown to me and Rob; the understanding and support and acceptance. Thank you Kathy, thank you Jonathan, thank you Eve. Thank you too to Gareth, Hayley and Shaun.
Lastly, to absent friends: to all those who have been thinking of us, friends and family in Canada, in England, in the USA, in Australia – you may not be here in the flesh, but we will eat, drink and have fun enough for all of you!
To absent friends! [toast]
Mid-afternoon, warm and a little humid back at home here in Johannesburg. Rob is asleep in our bedroom, exhausted after four consecutive nights of entertaining, a perfectly wonderful wedding, and all the drama and emotion of the past few days. Cynthia is asleep in the guest bedroom. She made it just in time for the wedding, after an agonising couple of hours of confusion and uncertainty at the airport – a tale to be told on another occasion. And I am upstairs in my office, after an urgent visit to the dentist – the loss of a humungous filling on Monday night, just before the wedding, being but one of the incidents and occurrences that have taken place in these days that have passed in a blur of events and activity.
It will take quite a while to absorb the past few days, to make sense of it all and get a sense of the shape and feel and weight of it. It is too early to share any thoughts or open a window into my feelings and sensations. But let me say this: the wedding was perfectly wonderful (have I said this already?). Rob looked gorgeous in a vividly coloured dress purchased at the last moment against the possibility of Cynthia’s non-arrival; the ceremony was a mere twenty minutes, but meaningful and sincere and deeply personal; the setting and the food and wine at Roots were pretty fabulous; breakfast the next morning at The Cradle restaurant, on the deck overlooking the gorge where the earliest humans walked, was magical.
Most important of all, some (though not all) of the people who are most important to us were there to witness and to celebrate with us: and the love and warmth from everyone, the happiness for Rob and me, were palpable and deeply moving. There were messages too, from friends far and near, and Rob and I felt, I can truly say, both humbled and grateful for the goodness we felt coming from so many quarters, from the people at Roots to our wedding photographer, Danielle Pretorius, from the people at The Cradle and many others.
It was pouring when the wedding started; thunder and rain and spikes of vivid lightning. Rain, people told us, is a good omen. And then, as our officiant, Chris Page sms’d as we were on our way to the venue, not only were we marrying on the summer solstice, but with a full moon and lunar eclipse, too: ‘VERY auspicious for a wedding ceremony!’ Chris wrote. ‘Adds a strong nurturing, compassionate, empathetic and caring quality to the marriage.’
Auspicious days indeed. My wife and I are played out, still finding our feet, but very, very happy.
Today is the big day at last. The sun is out, the skies are clear, and we have learned that BA57 left Heathrow last night, bound for Johannesburg. We will only know when the plane lands, whether Cynthia is on board or not, but we are hoping for the best.
The rest of today will no doubt pass in a whirl of emotion and activity, but underneath it all is a sense, quite simply, that the moment has come. By 5.30 this evening, Roberta Jane Pazdro and I will be married. Something quite simple, and profound, will have happened, and our lives will have altered irrevocably – and, I truly believe, in a most wonderful and positive way.
Thank you for all the kind thoughts and messages from friends and family far and near – it means a great deal to us. Please think of us this evening, as we make our promises in the Cradle of Humankind, on this day, the summer solstice.
Around 4.30 yesterday afternoon a black storm swept in from the south-east, a mass of turbulent cloud seeded with fierce winds and hailstones. Trees were uprooted, traffic lights knocked out, vegetation shredded by the slashing hail and rivers of mud washed down the flooded streets.
It was, to recall a curiously heavy-footed term from my Eng Lit days, an ‘objective correlative,’ if you like, for some elements of drama at home – let me allude only obliquely to the kinds of last-minute jitters that may precede a wedding. A more serious anxiety over the course of the day lay with weather much further afield – the snowstorms which had closed down Heathrow had left Rob’s sister Cynthia, due to fly out from the States via London, out of contact and somewhere in limbo. Only late in the evening, after we had picked up Bob and Alida, Rob’s Chicago cousin and her husband, from the airport and brought them home for food, drink and a good yack (boy, can those Polish girls talk!) was Rob able to track Cynthia down, at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago. The poor woman had been waiting in lines much of the day and was still wait-listed for a flight to London.
Cynthia is Rob’s witness at the wedding, and is supposed to be carrying my wedding ring for Rob. She also has with her Rob’s wedding dress and shoes. But we had to go to bed uncertain whether Cynthia would be able to make it out in time….
This morning the day dawned bright and warm and sunny. There was mail from Rob’s brother, Jim, in Detroit: Cynthia had made it onto a flight to London, and would be arriving Tuesday morning, the day of the wedding, via Paris.
We are keeping our fingers crossed, but it looks like she might make it, after all. She will be wrecked, but she will be here. Just in case her luggage has other plans, however (you may recall my previous experience with Air France and luggage, for which, incidentally, I have still to be refunded) Rob will go with Alida this afternoon to buy another dress for the wedding.
‘It’s a whole new day,’ Rob said to me, with some tenderness, as she prepared to head out the door to get her nails done. ‘Everything starts from here.’
‘You’ve got yourself a deal,’ I said. Enough of all this weather!
Dinner at The Market Theatre last night (pasta and salad, glass of plonk) was merely the entree to Hugh Masakela and Sibongile Khumalo in ‘Songs of Migration’ – a two-hour non-stop tour de force, a history in music, a nation’s soul in song. A wonderfully gifted and passionate company of singers and performers, but Masakela was a standout, singing from the heart, metamorphosing in a minute, in voice and gesture, from township tsotsi to rural migrant to shebeen hustler and barfly – and then of course, his golden trumpet, pealing, bleating, speaking, moaning, punctuating and welding the whole ensemble together. Sibongile Khumalo has a voice like warm butter, a sly and playful sense of humour, the physical presence of Mother Africa. All in all a wonderful night out.
Our last date, Rob said, as single people, as we drove home along a darkened and quiet Jan Smuts Avenue. In forty-eight hours, the party begins, and it doesn’t stop, not for the next 3 1/2 weeks.
You all know perfectly well by now, exactly what will be happening a week from today, next Tuesday, so I’m not going to talk about it. Instead I am going to talk about the weather.
It is grey today, and wet, and it has been grey and wet and thundery for the past several days now, with lightning sometimes close enough to rattle your bones and loosen your teeth and downpours heavy enough to wash away a thousand rands’ worth of building sand from the front of Eve and Shaun’s house. The weather man has other ideas, but we are hoping the weather will clear sufficiently for our braai on Saturday, to welcome Jono’s English girlfriend, Hayley, to the Fisher family; and stay clear enough for our party, on Monday night, for the American relatives and the local clan; and clear enough for a certain ceremony planned for the outdoor deck at Roots, on Tuesday. We shall see; but if the weather fails to cooperate things are going to be kinda cosy around here, over the weekend.
After the weather, there’s always shopping. Today we shall go shopping, Rob and I – for things that are needed for the cabins we are renting at The Cradle of Humankind; for beverages of various kinds and quantities; for ‘stuff’ one simply has to have, at times like these. And when the shopping is done, there is always the to-do list. We had thought to cook a goose for Christmas, so yesterday I phoned the estimable Thrupps, in Illovo, and learned that yes, a goose was available. I was about to order but at the last minute thought, out of mere curiosity, to ask the price: R279, was the answer. Ok, twice the price of a duck, but what the hell, I thought, it’s Christmas, and we have Rob’s sister from Detroit and my mother and sister for Christmas lunch. That’s per kilo, the voice on the line persisted. I paused, not sure I had heard right. ‘So how much is a whole goose?’ I asked. A thousand rands plus, was the cheerful answer.
Needless to say, we are not having goose for Christmas. Which begs the question, what are we going to have?
One of the to-dos on the to-do list is to go through the cookery books and determine upon our Christmas lunch; and then to order the main event, well in advance, along with the meat and fish and other requisites for our two braais on Saturday and Monday. ‘Why are we having two braais?’ Rob asked this morning. ‘Because we wanted to welcome Hayley,’ I answered. ‘Because you wanted to have two braais,’ Rob retorted. ‘I hope you are going to do the dishes.’
And so, as you can see, it is perfectly possible, one week from the big day, to waste a whole page without once talking about a wedding.
Remember the photo stories of your childhood – those forbidden trashy love stories and crime stories in pulp magazines? Here, shot in London Ontario and coming to you from an anonymous website in Southern Africa, is our latest concoction: an entire love story in three explicit images….