My niece J--- phoned me a day or two ago. She'd just come back from holiday. It had in fact been her honeymoon.
She and her new husband K--- had gone to Iceland with just a handful of very immediate family on both sides, basically parents, and had got married with one of the famous waterfalls thundering away as a backdrop. Wow. What an incredible idea!
K--- had previously been her partner of about ten years. Both had very well-paid jobs in computer software. They could afford exotic holidays, and in fact I'd thought they would fly off to the Pacific for the event. Any children in sight? Oh no, she said - still two years off at least. They simply thought the right time had come to get properly hitched, with minimum fuss.
Not that I'd call two weeks in Iceland 'minimum fuss'! Iceland...a place I'd been dreaming of going to for thirty years past. It was still very high on my personal list of must-see holiday destinations. I already had a collection of books and maps for a trip there one day - but not of course the money, though that could be in place before I'm sixty-five. I thought it was an excellent place to get married in, and congratulated my niece for her choice of wedding venue - and how organised.
I wish I'd been able to have a skeleton guest list when I got married in 1983. But my Mum baulked at not inviting various aunts and uncles, and it was the same on W---'s side, and so it all got out of hand and a bit contentious. At one point Dad begged the two of us to 'just go off somewhere, and get the deed done and out of the way', and sidestep the frantic circus that it had all become. Not that my wedding was in any sense a fancy one: a register office, then a local dining pub; then a late-afternoon drive down to Shaftesbury in Dorset for the First Night; and then onwards across a frosty Dartmoor to a wintery honeymoon at Padstow in Cornwall. The only waterfalls there were the frozen ones in the cliffs. It was a very chilly February.
So, I asked my niece, what about a card and a wedding present? Absolutely not. Really. Everybody had been told the same. OK. But we will meet up again in North London after my West Country Tour, when of course the wedding photos will be available, and perhaps I can then take them out for lunch.
That wasn't the only hot family news though.
My nephew M--- and his partner C--- (they are also of about ten years standing, though not yet married) have released the information that their first baby - due at or around 17 September - will be a girl (how lovely). The name has been chosen, but is secret for now. C--- is doing well, with no problems. M--- is of course getting nervous. They are both fiercely independent, and have insisted on no money contributions from anyone. All the baby stuff is bought and ready for use. All well and good, I said to my sister-in-law G--- when we spoke on the phone, but a few months on, and the odd cheque for this and that might well be welcome! We'll all bide our time, and chip in as the need arises.
One thing that I found interesting is that M--- and C---- are deferring their own wedding until their child is walking and able to take part in the ceremony, the idea being that they will do it as a threesome, as a family unit - an event that the little girl will actually be able to remember. I think that's a wonderful idea.
They are still hoping to get married in a magnificent setting. Arundel Castle was the top choice when I last heard. I can't imagine they will really be able to afford such a venue, or should try to, when a decent flat of their own is a clear priority. But hey ho, it's their life, and if it is Arundel Castle then it'll be fairly local to me, and I can go to town with my wedding outfit.
Another thought: assuming the little girl is safely delivered, I shall become a great aunt. Great Aunt Lucy. I like it.
The baby's name, assuming safe delivery, is out: it will be Matilda Elizabeth Dorothy Dommett. The second and third names are the great-grandmothers on both sides. M--- and C--- are thinking that Matilda will naturally become Tilly. It might of course as easily become Matty, but Tilly will be very nice, although as a great aunt I shall insist on calling her Matilda if I wish to be prim and severe. Not that I want ever to do anything but love that child. It's a new beginning, a new generation. I agreed with M--- that it's such a pity that his father, my brother, isn't alive to see this.
It's a sobering thought, but when Tilly is of university age I will be eighty or so. Dear me!