It's so easy to get to the UK now! I took the 8:30 bus 4 to Pessac Centre, then the 9am bus 48 to the airport and was there at about 10. Plenty of time before my 11am flight to Gatwick.
The flight was bumpy but cheered by the sweetest steward I have ever come across, Michael, an enormous German who spoke excellent English and French, though accented and rather idiosyncratic. Easyjet are collecting for UNICEF for a polio vaccination project. As usual, I had no money at all on me but after Michael's introduction I would gladly have thrown in all I had. As the plane descended into Gatwick he thanked "Messieurs, mesdames et chers enfants / Ladies, gentlemen and dear children" for flying with Easyjet. If he is as nice with the other cabin crew as he is with the passengers the man is a hero. Bravo Michael!
I got to Gatwick about 12:30 and bought a British style sandwich in the M&S food place. I can't remember what it was, but you know the kind of thing : Brie, smoked mackerel and sun-dried durian with balsamic Branston, or something like that. Then off on the train to Bromley South.
I had to post William's visa. It was hard-won, needing several messages back and fore to get all the information and letters needed, and two appointments at the consulate, so I was determined to post it to him. I also had a UK cheque that needed paying in if I should happen to see a Nationwide. I saw one and the friendly counter-staff also gave me essential information on finding the Post Office. It's tucked away at the back of W H Smith, upstairs. It was, too. Very well-hidden. Without my friends in the Nationwide I would have sought in vain. £10.68 secured an oath on the official's grandmother's grave, written in blood, that William's passport would arrive in Swindon by 1 the next day. She even stuck a sticker over the first address so it wold be certain to get to the second.
By now Daniel and Hannah, ma raison d'être en Angleterre, were sending me messages on Skype saying "Where are you? Shall we come and get you?" So once William's passport was consigned to the tender care of the Royal Owls I trudged back to Bromley South station, stopping at a witness table to chat with some men from Hayes Lane Baptist Church where the wedding the following day would be held.
The home of the Brackens of Prickly Wood was a hub of enterprise. Brian, the Best Man, was icing fairy cakes. Sarah, the Cake Maker, was icing wedding cakes. In one room Hannah was scripting her and Daniel's testimony for the wedding while Daniel also typed something on his computer. I went into another room and dealt with emails.
By the way, what has Europe ever done for us? Given me free roaming in the UK, that's what. A text message from my operator explained that while in the UK I could call, text and even use mobile data just like in France. Jolly good! We'll see if there were any repercussions on the bill when it comes, but they said it was all included in the king's ransom I pay each month.
Anyway at around 5 a little group of lost Brazilians arrived at the house. After despatching them to where they needed to be we went to the church to rehearse the ceremony, entry and exit. I do strongly suggest to all young ladies and especially their fathers that they practice walking slowly. Women often have a grace that appears effortless, graceful and beautiful. Men generally lack this quality by nature, but much can be achieved with practice.
The following day, the forecast snow keeping its distance, we went to the church for the wedding at 1. What a happy time, uniting folk from the four home nations, from France, Germany and Portugal as well as Brazil and Tahiti. Daniel and Hannah's road to the church has been rocky and strewn with difficulties - lots of geographical separation, cultural differences that lead to huge misunderstanding, the UK government's initial refusal to grant a visa for Daniel to enter the UK and marry Hannah - but they make a most handsome couple and their friends and family will give them all the help they need.
We discussed the identity of the bird was that was deliciously served "en croute". The bone resembled that of a duck.
"Poulet?" (chicken) one person said. No, it wasn't chicken.
"What about those little chickens?" "Poussin?"
"No, those little birds." "Cailles?" (Quails)
The leg bone was about 3 inches long and my French neighbour had his doubts.
I told him that British birds were considerably larger than French ones and that he really ought to see a British turkey one day.
That evening I was told that it was guinea-fowl.
My flight back to Bordeaux got me home just perfectly in time to get to Dan for the service, most ably conducted by the excellent James, though Aurélien the steward scolded me for poking a sandwich wrapper (bacon, kale and acaiberry conserve) into my empty bottle of fruity water (spring water, apple juice, raspberry pulp - oh yes, and sugar...)
I missed you, Michael.
Every time I officiate at a wedding I have the same thought. See above.