Unaccustomed as I am… by Emily Smart

Men at C&A - a curly haired Richard models the Aran jumper, while Tom looks into the distance wistfully. Darts night at the Queen's Head circa a very long time ago.

Men at C&A – a curly haired Richard models the Aran jumper, while Tom looks into the distance wistfully. Darts night at the Queen’s Head circa a very long time ago.

And a jolly good afternoon from New Zealand. Did you really think you could get away with getting married and me not making a grand entrance? You all know I love a warm hand on my entrance.

Tom, dear brother, trusted friend and brilliant plumber – yeah, I might be exaggerating on the last two – I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish you and Sophie all the very best on your wedding day. I would have been there in person had Dad coughed up the six grand fare to fly first class from Auckland to Heathrow – no, don’t you worry about that Maurice, I’m not bitter. At all. Much.

When I was back in the UK only a couple of months ago, you could have knocked me down with quite a heavy feather when Tom (always considered the baby of the family, though really the slightly odd middle child) said he was getting married. After years of living in sin, fornicating and procreating in Haslingfield, I thought to myself, why bother? Tom announced one lunch time that he and the beautiful Sophie were getting hitched in June 2015. I asked why, and he got all coy and told us he wanted to declare his love for Soph to the world. Sophie soon put the record straight – “Me mum says that if anything happened to Tom I’d be up queer street without a paddle so we need to get married and make a will.” Who said the age of romance is dead?

Fast forward to just over two months later and here you all are enjoying a sumptuous reception. Yes, because Sophie’s brother was coming over from Oz to the UK in January the wedding was brought forward. I hope you’re enjoying my glass of bubbles Sophie’s brother. I asked the waitress to gob in it.

When Tom mentioned the wedding, way, way back in October just a couple of months ago, he suggested that it would be nice for me and my lot to come back for the nuptials. Well Tom, the promise of a registry office wedding on a Wednesday (“Cos it’s cheaper”) and a slap up meal, at the ‘eat all you can for £6’ Hungry Horse, was a tempting offer. I’m glad to hear that you’ve swapped your jeans and t-shirt for a whistle and flute; please promise me you’ve washed those hands after unblocking that toilet earlier.

So, what can I say about the groom? Tom was certainly never like me or our older brother Richard. Which was good news for Tom. Whilst Richard, I think, actually sold one of our grandparents to buy his first car, Tom was the brother who was kind. Annoying, and with a huge flatulence problem, but kind. He’d spend hours taking things apart, anything mechanical, and then spend five minutes putting them back together so that they never worked again. He didn’t like the taste of alcohol and so didn’t drink, which meant he was an excellent designated driver. The only time I remember seeing Tom drunk was when I happened to have the girls round for a sleepover and he stumbled in from the Queen’s Head, Newton and French kissed our dog Toby. That was the year the dog gave Tom a packet of Polo’s for Christmas.

While Richard and I went to Londinium to seek our fame and fortune (bugger me, was I short changed), Tom stayed in Cambridge. A homebody at heart, the big wide world never was a draw card for him since he trapped his fingers in a Spanish villa door on a family package holiday. Cars, women, U-bends, Tom has had it all. The cars were always broken and stayed in the garage for years, the women always had bigger balls than him, and actually one did have quite a ‘tache on her. The one thing that has been constant is the plumbing. I would like to tell you all about the time Tom plumbed our hot water tank into a light switch in our loft or the time he fitted a boiler for Richard and promptly lost the remote control so they couldn’t use it, but that would be mean on his wedding day.

Everyone loves Tom and always has done. To the outside world he was quiet, unobtrusive and friendly. To Richard and me, he was bloody noisy and a pain the rectum. We used to refer to him as the blue-eyed boy, while we were more, oh let’s just say a bit naughty. Whether engineered by his two siblings or through sheer bad luck, poor Tom always got the blame. For everything. Whether it was under-age smoking, stealing from the local post office shop, or downing Harvey’s Bristol Cream from our parents booze cabinet, if someone was gonna get in trouble, it wasn’t five-finger discount Richard or me.

Anyway, enough about Tom, what about the lovely Sophie? A family friend for many years now (don’t ask, it’s like a plot line off EastEnders), Sophie is one of the loveliest, warmest, beautiful people you could hope to meet. Daft as a brush and at her best when she’s had a few vinos, she is the perfect partner for Tom – she clearly has no sense of smell either. She has three wonderful children, and we’re all grateful that my nephew Stan is a chip off the old block – yes, he sits around in his underpants fiddling with his bits, and farting like a trooper.

Sophie, I’m proud to call you my sister-in-law, and at some point biatch, I’m going to let it go that you moved the wedding date so I couldn’t be there!!

And finally, I would just like to thank Tom and Sophie for being brilliant with Mum over the last year. It’s been a tough one for all concerned, but they have been a great support for Dad and have rallied around to keep Mum’s spirits up. This is comforting for any daughter to know when they are 12,000 miles away from home.

Oh, and one more thing. You’re welcome Richard, there’s really no need to thank me for this speech. I thought I’d better step in as you’re probably having a McDonald’s somewhere off the M25 when you should be organising the toast.

Please raise your glass of Lambrusco – to Tom and Sophie.

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