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The Brides Greatest Ally
On Friday, 1st May 1835, Mr Charles Dickens, the creator of "David Copperfield" and "Please, sir, can I have some more?" was the happiest of mortals. He had proposed and had been accepted.
By Saturday, 2nd May 1835, Mr Charles Dickens was wrestling with that knotty problem facing every Groom. Who was he to choose for his Best Man?
The role was too important for most of the Tom, Dick and Harrys he knew. And, in any case, by now, he should be aiming a little bit higher. Searching carefully through the banks of his capacious memory, a name came up so suitable in every way that he was surprised not to have thought of it earlier.
Pleased as Punch, he hurried to York Place to share the good news with his little Bride.
"Your publisher, Mr Dickens?" she says unimpressed. "How can you even think of him as your Best Man? He's hardly a friend."
"Perhaps to your turn of mind he may not be my friend, madam, but I have been entertained by him and his good lady. And, in short, he is my bread and butter."
"I hope, Mr Dickens, when we are wed, you'll be able to think of other things beside your bread and butter." Oh, how those pert words were to haunt her in the next twenty years.
"And I hope, madam, when we are wed, you'll appreciate intellectual greatness and not be for ever reading that romantic trash."
Seeing Mr Dickens' furrowed brow, and an unpleasant cast to his mouth very reminiscent of his less humorous characters, Catherine besought herself to be a little more congenial.
"What think you, Mr Dickens, of mama's cousin, three times removed, Frederick Monteroy?"
"What? For my Best Man?"
"He's ever so amusing and obliging," she wheedled.
"My dear, Miss Hogarth," protests Mr Dickens, "I don't know the man. He is your friend entirely."
Ah, Mr Dickens, the clever man that you are, you have placed your inky-finger on the very heart of the matter. That he is the Bride's friend is exactly what makes him so desirable as a Best Man.
Young as she is, your Catherine has already heard the sad tales of how tenaciously a Best Man battles to detach his friend from the bosom of his intended.
Go back as far as Sparta and Athens. Even there history will show the perils a Groom encounters on his road to matrimony, and the length to which his Best Man will go, to make him detour.
No trick too dirty, especially as D Day approaches. Lolling on the sofas of the local Vino where so much of their time had been spent as college graduates, he will ply the sheepish fool with unlimited goblets of wine at best ? and frisky young lasses at worst.
"One last drink for the road!" is the cry every time the Groom makes at attempt to escape. And the next day, legs unset jelly, he might manage to stumble towards his bride more than an hour late. Then again he might not get there at all.
But back to Mr Dickens. "No, Catherine," he says firmly, nay, obstinately, "I must have Mr Bentley beside me."
"But, my dear," says the suddenly inspired Catherine, "do not you know that the Best Man must always be a single man?"
"I declare I had not," admits Mr Dickens in some confusion.
"La, Mr Dickens," says his lady, seeing the race all but won, "if you'd spent more time with the social pages instead of the plight of the poor, you'd know better."
And so on Saturday, 2nd April, 1836, Mr Dickens plighted his troth at St Luke's Church, Chelsea. Beside him stood not Mr Bentley, the Publisher, but Mr Beard, the journo.
Catherine had fought the good battle that every Bride must fight. And won. Too bad that Mr Dickens turned out not to be the catch she thought he was. But that's another story.
Vlady is an Australian Civil Marriage Celebrant.
She is the author of "The Complete Book of Australian Weddings" and "The Small Organisation Handbook".
She is a member of the Queensland Association of Civil Marriage Celebrants, Australian Authors and Romance Writers of Australia.
You can visit Vlady at her website http://www.vlady-celebrant.com
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