Tuesday 28 June 2011


Annoyingly, these days I can't really threaten to walk out when the washing up doesn't get done.

Apparently, getting married means you have to sit down and be patient and work out these "issues" into sensible systems, instead of throwing your other half's records into a box and hurling them into the street every time he/she does something to piss you off.

Why is this so? Why are we not born into harmonious partnerships where things just get done without the need for tedious discussion and compromise? Tedious discussion and compromise are SO boring. They require tenacity and patience with the mundane. Put simply, they suck like war films and golf.

Even worse, when you're in a relationship where one person does 90% of household duties, the other person tends to be quite happy with the situation. They can't work out why anybody would want to sit down and discuss altering this marvellous status quo where they get to leave things where they are dropped, and pretend the laundry basket doesn't exist. Why would they? Every day is party time when the bathroom cleans itself! Let's just not talk about it.

All this is fine when you're in the first flush of love. You skip with delight to pick up your darling's rancid underwear. But then along come difficult working hours, children, and more responsibility. And then you might suddenly find yourself bitter, twisted, and liable to stove your partner's head in with the Dyson.

And who wants blood on their hands?

Let's nip the problem in the bud.

We need some strategy.

Laying a logical framework over issues imbued with rage and emotion is a technique that has been used for years in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It allows us to step back and view uncomfortable personal relationship thingies more rationally, and come to a fair(ish) solution. Because partners are supposed to be, well, partners.

Like in a business.

A successful business does not take over the world by throwing Visage LPs into the front garden.

I have just finished reading this book.

It promises to use economic theory principles to solve common marital issues, in a practical and objective manner. It is quite fun, and definitely less saccharine and irritating then other self-help books I have read ten pages of and thrown into the front garden (on top of the vinyls).

It does try to be self-consciously quirky and different (banging on and on about its Groundbreaking, Expensive and Exhaustive Marriage Survey- le snore), but we'll let it off, as it makes some fair points, and gives a refreshing angle on the tired old problems everybody bumps up against when they try to make a life with another human being.

Plus it overrides my ridiculous and hysterical overreactions to Things That Just Aren't Fair. This is a good thing.

I would recommend it.

Now I just need to get Sam to read it.

Friday 24 June 2011

Maid Of Awesome


How the frk do you choose them?

My friend Ellie has abandoned the idea altogether as she has so many close female friends, it would be a case of leaving somebody out or having a Maid Army.

As for me? I was confronted with having the ideal, ready-made possee. Sam has three younger sisters, who I get on with (chorus of angels) really well. They like weddings, they like dresses, they were over the moon that their big brother was getting married. I've no doubt they would have happily accepted the task, and looked fabulous doing it.

But as I started to drop into the rabbit hole of wedding planning, I began to realise how much your maids are generally expected to do for you, how much they are supposed to be around before the wedding day itself. And although I love The Sisters to bits, I wasn't altogether comfortable with placing this responsibility in the hands of my future-in-laws.

See, when we first got engaged, I was pretty sure I was going to turn into Bride(shhh!)zilla. Oh, you know I hate that word. You know what I mean. A slightly psychotic human being who needs everything to be perfect, and wants the world to revolve around them, as this is their Moment.

Seriously, I LIKE my sisters-in-law. I don't want them to see me turn into a screechy, fanged monster with lizard scales and eyes that turn you to stone. So I didn't ask them.

As it transpired, there was only one "Zilla" in our engagement. And it wasn't me (turns out I'd rather just get shit done). But that's a story for another day.

So. Maids.

There was only ever going to be one for me.

The girl who has known me since forever (rivals at primary school), who has seen me at my absolute best and absolute worst after 20 years of friendship. My Maid of Awesome.

Anybody who knows Catie will know she isn't backwards in coming forwards (although she's generally very lovely about it) and she had announced she was doing a speech at our wedding before we even got engaged. True to her word she did, and it was the only speech of the day that actually talked about ME (my Dad somehow managed to avoid this- probably for the best!).

And this is why, unless you are much cooler, calmer and more collected than I am, you may well need a Maid. If not a Maid, then somebody somewhere who will make that day about you - your mum, a group of friends, somebody who you know gets you, and has got your back. I might have been overwhelmed on the day, but I had the knowledge that there was somebody who was THERE for me. And Catie was there for me for the whole five months. From my (unforgettable, stupendous, unbeatable) Hen, to multiple tryings on of the dress and choosing relevant accessories, to making me dinner the night before the wedding and watching Dirty Dancing with me, to the end of the night when I was over-emotional, over-tired, and needed whisking to the hotel bar to drink cocktails instead of having to deal with any more of the venue clear-up.

My family and friends were brilliant, and I couldn't have done it without them. But without Catie, I would actually have EXPLODED.

Tonight is the first time I will have seen her since the wedding. I'm off to eat, drink and dance in Chorlton with my best friend. And, of course, my new husband.

I can't bloody wait.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Don't Tell Don't Tell The Bride

Fact you may not know about me and Sam: we were nearly on Don't Tell The Bride.

When I say "nearly on", I what I really mean is "closer than I ever wanted to be to going on".

Take two people, with two enormous 5 year fixed rate mortgages bought just before the crash (read:eye-watering). Add in a redundancy, 18 months retraining with no income, an ill-advised central heating repayment scheme and a load of other boring stuff and blah blah blah you basically end up with two very skint people who don't get out much anymore. "Love on the dole" as my father so kindly calls it. Yeah thanks a bunch, baby boomer.

Oh, hang on, so now these two people love each other very much and want to get married?

Don't make me laugh.

So, with empty pockets and a heart full of dreams, our Romeo decided to phone up the BBC and volunteer our services for a hair-raising reality TV show. Mistakenly believing that because I watch it, I might actually want to be on it.

Let's face it, if you know me, and you know Sam, we are more or less perfect candidates.

The picky, stroppy princess bride who loves fashion and shoes and for everything to be *perfect* and preferably done ten seconds ago. Then the hapless punk groom who would rather sit in front of Robocop with a tin of cooking lager for 3 weeks and leave the guest list to "Later" (Later is where everything gets done on Planet Sam - it's apparently a very relaxing place to be). The likelihood of being married by BA Barracus on top of a monster truck with twenty bridesmaids wearing neon green top hats would have been fairly high. More importantly, me having a screaming hissy fit before an audience of millions would have been pretty much unavoidable.

Anyway, Sam announced in the pub one day, to his sister and her boyfriend (I just happened to be standing with them) that we had been at phone interview stage, six months ago. News to me, especially since he hadn't actually proposed.

I think he was going to do that bit Later.

Anyway, I don't know what divine intervention of common sense occurred, but he never took it any further than that.

Thank God.

We didn't need anything close to £12,000 to have our perfect weddding, as it turns out. Which is just as well, as I can't imagine having to now face 182930483 pictures of me on Facebook wearing this on my wedding day:

"I take you, Sam Smyth, to be my lawfully wedded wookie"

Sunday 19 June 2011

Being Married *Does* Feel Different

When I told the members at the ladies-only gym where I sometimes work that I was engaged, their reactions went a bit like this:

"Oooh congratulations! You'll be leaving us then?"

And, even more bizarrely:

"How lovely, is he in the military?"

(Anybody who knows Sam can stop laughing at the last one now)

I knew that, when it came to marriage and tradition, there would be a generation gap. But this was more like a chasm. Some of them were a bit shocked when I told them that I'd already lived with my betrothed for 18 months prior to the proposal.

"Getting married doesn't really change anything for you then, does it?" one lady said, "So why are you doing it?"

All bluntness aside, it's a pretty good question.

Why go to all that trouble and expense to tie yourself to another human being? Does it really make anything any different?

I noticed in the pub last night when everyone was asking Sam if it felt different, he said it didn't. When we were talking about it later, he explained, in his usual 7-pints-down-the-line, endearingly coherent way:

"Well! Of course it feels different! But it doesn't. It doesn't feel different! But it does! You know!"

Which is, of course, exactly right.

Nothing changes on a day to day level (apart from Sam giggling and calling me "Mrs Smyth" every now and again, like he can't quite believe it). The washing up still gets left. We still forget to water the house plants. The cat still occasionally does a poo in the dining room (although apparently more often when we feed him Go-Cat biscuits).

But there is this unspoken knowledge now, that you and this other person are well and truly in it together. And that it's not just talk any more, it's cemented. In all probability you are going to be sitting with this other person in your dotage, and it's not just a pinkie promise. You're going to fall out, and horrible things will happen, but now you know you've made a commitment to sit down and get through it together. Any uncertainty is gone, and it's replaced by a sort of calm. Everything seems richer, clearer, more still. And this weird feeling permeates everything. I hadn't expected to feel like this -it's strange, but it's good.

Of course this could be the bliss of the first few weeks of marriage, or it could just be the relief of not having to plan a wedding anymore.

Seriously, this man, in the military?

Friday 17 June 2011

Our Preview Pictures Have Arrived!

Ten Initial Reactions:

1. There is a rave-level of smiling going on. Cheeks must have ached.

2. Playing a sweaty gig in the middle of your own reception will rid your bridal look of any polish it may have had...

3. ....but it will look sort of cool

4. People DID actually dance, and they threw some ridiculous shapes

5. A bouffy skirt and Converse hi-tops are never going to flatter footballer legs, I should probably have born the crushing pain of the 6" heels at least until after the evening speeches

6. Our friends scrub up stupidly well ....

7....but the boys definitely win, some serious hats, bow ties and Don Draper hair going on

8. The cutting of the cake is not necessarily the most boring picture of the day

9. My husband looks great in a veil

10. A whole amazing wedding went on, and I think I was there, and I might actually be starting to remember it now.

(Although I'm whinging about my sturdy pins, I do love this)
Photo courtesy of BlackEyeSpecialist Photography

Wednesday 15 June 2011


SO yesterday we booked our lune de miel with a very well-mannered and helpful man in the Leeds Trailfinders office. Warring against tradition (as ever! ain't we just the pair of wedding convention-defiers!) we are actually going on our honeymoon a full 3 months, almost to the day, after our wedding.

In fact the term "honeymoon" refers originally to a period of one lunar cycle (hence "moon") after the wedding when the couple is supposed to be at their most blissed out. Nothing to do with package holidays and flopping around on sunkissed beaches.

Of course in ye olden days, weddings probably weren't generally such a military operation on the bride and groom's part, so they didn't need a week or two off work immediately after their big day simply to recuperate. I can't believe we even contemplated going straight back to work on the Monday. We were absolutely dead, and although we had a lovely couple of days as a "mini-moon" up in North Yorkshire, we spent most of the time fast asleep. In fact, I'm still not compos mentis ten days later, and have developed the slightly hilarious habit of tripping over, dropping things, spilling things and bumping into people. It's just a wedding though, right? Well actually my Mum got a stomach bug straight after, my Maid Of Honour got the flu and my stepmother now has shingles (eek!). We're ladies okay, we are sensitive to emotional stress!

Anyway, the excitement of looking forward to our First Actual Big Holiday Together Ever gave Sam and I a big old burst of energy yesterday, and I effectively wasted 6 hours of potential work time bouncing round the internet doing local research and periodically shrieking upstairs "I've found the most perfect bar/restaurant/club EVER!"

Not for us the relaxing white beaches of the Maldives!

We are going to New York City.

I really started to appreciate how much Sam and I have in common when I started looking into what we might do. Neither of us are fussed on the traditional tourist stuff, so we're going to spend 4 nights in Manhattan (only touristy things Mr S wants to do there are: catch a Broadway show, drink in a dive bar, jog in Central Park, go on the "Big Piano" and see the Ghostbusters building, all I want to do is SHOP) and 5 nights in Brooklyn.

Oh Brooklyn! How you are probably the place my husband and I live in our dreams, although in reality your pretentious youth and fashion haircuts would cease delighting and probably annoy us eventually. This is why we both moved out of Headingley after all.

And! (specifically Williamsburg)! You not only give Bad Penny her perfect chance to go on Hipster Safari, but you also have an up and coming brewing industry and a load of awesome beer nerd bars for both husband and wife to enjoy (including one with 30 arcade machines in! Sam cries with joy!), a ton of cool gigs they would like to go to, and above all A ZILLION PLACES FOR VEGANS TO EAT.

I'm talking places with entirely vegan menus.

Seriously, Sam's veganism is the one thing we row about when we're on holiday. Eating vegan in Europe is MISERABLE. Especially when I'm an omnivorous foodie who needs to eat her way into other cultures, and Sam would just rather, well, eat chips and onion rings for every meal and save the moo-cows. We always end up "compromising" by eating in fusty, sandal-wearing "health cafes" where the food tastes of sawdust and we both come away hungry and utterly miserable.

So my solution was to go to the vegan capital of the world for our honeymoon.

If this works, I think it may mean we now have to go back there every year.

Sunday 12 June 2011


I've just been watching that daft programme "Bridezillas" on cable channel 1839030430282.

I hate the word "Bridezilla". Those girls are extreme, but weddings DO send you into a bit of an odd mental state for a while. Mock if you like, but there's so much pressure to get everything right, be an event organiser, a stylist, a co-ordinator, keep everyone happy and entertained, talk to everyone in the room for at least five minutes each, keep everything moving like a well oiled machine, look the best you ever have AND have an amazing time. Yes, YOU are supposed to have an amazing time while all this is going on. It seems a little unfair to put that slightly derogatory "B" word out there as a stick to beat any engaged woman with who might be tempted to put her foot down about something, or lose the plot for, I dunno, two seconds.

I did have an amazing time at our wedding, but it was sort of in spite of the day. Everyone expects you to be a bit panicky during the run-up, but on the actual day you're supposed to relax and have a jolly old time. It's supposed to be the best day of your life. YES! THE BEST DAY!

Don't get me wrong, it was a nice day.

For me, getting to marry my favourite person in the world made it the best day. Maybe that's what they mean when the say it's the best day of your life. And, as far as I can see, that bit was my reward for enduring The Wedding.

For coping with my family having emotional melt-downs, the reception venue deciding to close on us with zero notice, having to race round the evening do trying desperately to speak to everyone before they left, worrying about the band being too loud, whether enough people were dancing, that guests were put out that we couldn't afford to have a free bar, that I'd invited people who were obligated to come who really didn't want to be there, the good friend who bailed on me BY TEXT in the middle of the family meal, and others who let us down at the last minute with no apparent reason (when there were others we would have liked to have invited in their place), the woman in the public bar at our lunch venue who tutted loudly to my face and then laughed with her friends at my appearance (really-no idea how I didn't punch her/burst into tears/both) and above all a thousand carefully plotted details being abandoned/forgotten/messed up in the mad scramble of the day. Things I took ages over. Really. Months. Nobody's fault, and all minor/predictable stressors in the scheme of things, but still frustrating.

And while all this was happening? I did exactly what everybody tells you to do. Let it go! Don't be a Bridezilla. The day will be amazing whatever happens. Sit back.

Well, it was amazing. Because our friends are amazing and I love my husband and I'm made up at how everybody pulled together to help us.

But I can't help going back over all the stuff that went a bit wrong and think... you know what? If I had stood up for myself and asked for some help, put my foot down a bit more, maybe I wouldn't be beating myself up about all this now. But I didn't, because I didn't want to be a bitch. I wanted to stay calm and smiley and bridal.

What IS that about?

We didn't have a wedding planner, or a day-of co-ordinator to sort out the little stuff. Our wedding was on a teeny budget, we had a lot to do on the day. Shit was bound to hit the fan, and I didn't have to sit there and watch things I'd spent months on get forgotten or lost. Because you know what? It was my wedding day, and if I'd piped up a bit more, people would have helped, and maybe they wouldn't have even minded. And if I'd been upset about some people being a bit inconsiderate, maybe somebody who DID care would have listened, and I would have felt better getting it off my chest instead of bottling up. And maybe I should have stood there and WAITED FOR PEOPLE TO GREET ME instead of bolting around after people all night. I sure as arse won't get a chance to do that again.

Anyway. The day was lovely, and I think (hope) that our guests had a good time, and anybody who knows me will know that this is ALWAYS the thing that gives me the greatest satisfaction. Looking back on the photos has been lovely so far as it's given us both a chance to re-experience the (amazing!!) high points of a day that was a total blur, and the details that DID make it out were entertaining and original, just as we'd intended.

And the best bit? I don't have post wedding blues AT ALL.

I have a wedding that is DONE AND OVER WITH (hurray!), some fabulous friends who shared it with us, a brand new family and a brilliant, brilliant husband.

Don't believe the wedding hype.

Being married is SO MUCH BETTER than being engaged.