Tuesday, 18 November 2008


The reception started off on shaky ground. Grandad Leach and Uncle and Aunty had fallen out years before our wedding, and had vowed never to speak to each other again. We didn’t know what to expect when they saw each other, and it was all very embarrassing for me with Arthur’s family present. Granny and Grandad had attended the wedding service, so were already ensconced in comfortable seats in the corner of the room when Aunty and Uncle arrived. Grandad Leach spotted Uncle immediately and, rising to his full height, hissed at Uncle: ‘Snake in the grass!’
Before any more hostilities could take place, Daddy stepped in and said ‘ Come on now, this is Leeta and Arthur’s wedding day, don’t spoil it for them.’ Eventually, and begrudgingly, they shook hands and a minor war was averted.
Mum and all her helpers had done us proud with the buffet, and Arthur, Dad and Doug had done a good job at tapping the barrels * the previous evening! We fitted fifty people into Mum and Dad’s lounge at Oakfield Road, and a good time was had by all.
I loved Arthur so much that it hurt. One reads of ‘floating on clouds’ and that is perfectly true, I still can remember the feeling that my chest was being grabbed and squeezed by a giant hand, and I did indeed feel as if I was floating on air. Every time I looked at him, my heart stood still. It was an experience that I feel certain could only happen once in a lifetime.

*It was usual when throwing a large party to buy beer by the barrel from the local pub. (Cans hadn’t been invented then). Bungs had to be extracted and taps fitted the night before use, a job enjoyed by the men who insisted it was necessary to keep tasting and testing the contents thereafter, to ensure a good flow! This was called tapping the barrel. When empty, the barrels were returned to the said pub.

The time was getting late. Arthur and I had planned to spend our wedding night in his old room at his Mum and Dad’s house. We were catching a train early the next day to Eastbourne, where we intended to spend a week at Daddy’s Aunt Beat’s B & B, The second week of our honeymoon was to be spent in our new one room flat, getting settled in.
We were so short of cash after the wedding, we were anxiously waiting for Aunty Dumpy to give us the cash she had promised us as a wedding present. Without this, we couldn’t go on our honeymoon. At last she came over to us and slipped the eagerly awaited envelope into Arthur’s hand.
‘Enjoy yourselves tonight, Duck,’ she said, and gave one of her raucous laughs.
We left he wedding party in a taxi with Arthur’s Mum and Dad. After saying goodbye to everyone, and promising to send cards, I kissed Mummy and Daddy goodbye and then I remembered that we hadn’t cut the wedding cake. Mum said that she would do it next day and send it out to all the guests, leaving us the top tier for our anniversary. I thanked her for everything she had done for us, and left home, feeling happy and, at the same time, very sad. I knew that my life would never be quite the same, ever again.

During our courting days, Arthur and I would often spend the evening at my home chatting to Mummy and Daddy over endless cups of tea. These were supported halfway through by one of Mum’s tasty cooked suppers, which Arthur loved. Dad would go to bed first. He always retired early, as he had to get up at about five o’clock in the morning. Mummy would stay up chatting to Arthur and I about anything and everything for a while longer. At about half past eleven, she would bid us good night, and off she would go to bed, leaving the two of us to have and hour or so on our own.
We usually had a kiss and a cuddle and talked about our plans for the future, or sat and sketched with the beautiful set of pencils Arthur had bought for me (one of those sketches still adorns my craft room wall), while we drank several cups of coffee. Later, Arthur would either cycle home to Newington Green, his battered old trilby hat (demob issue) jammed on his head, and trouser bottoms secured by bicycle clips, or he would have to walk, a journey which took well over an hour.
On the other hand, if we spent an evening at Arthur’s place the scenario would be oh so different. At a quarter past nine, Mum Chapman would announce: ‘Time for me to make the coffee, Will’. That statement was the signal that we had to leave very soon, as they wanted to retire for the night. There was absolutely no chance of them ever going to bed until we were well off the premises, and they never stayed up later than nine-thirty. I really couldn’t understand this because we spent every Saturday afternoon on our own at Arthur’s home and Mr. & Mrs. Chapman were well aware of this. Had we been able to spend our first night at my home, I know there would have been no embarrassment, and Mummy would have set us a ‘honeymoon breakfast table, complete with lace cloth and flowers. However, this was the Chapman abode, and I felt very uncomfortable going into Arthur’s bedroom with him and closing the door, bearing in mind that I had never even been allowed to sit in the kitchen with him on his own! To compound my embarrassment, a family friend had machine stitched the bottom of my black, honeymoon nightie together, so that I couldn’t put it on. I frantically tried to unpick the stitches, but she had done a thorough job, and I had to go to bed wearing nothing but my perfume!


weechuff said...

Another interesting read Leeta. Sounds like Arthur's parents were far more old fashioned than ours! I remember on the eve of our wedding, mum and dad insisted I slept in their bed, and not in the same room as all the girls, as was usual. To this day I have no idea where they slept! I wish I had asked. The next morning, with my wedding gown hanging on the back of their bedroom door, mum brought me breakfast in bed! Bless her, she was so sweet when it came to things like that wasn't she?

granny grimble said...

Arthur's mum and dad were very straight laced and old fashioned. Nothing like our parents. That was so thoughtful of Mum and dad to let you sleep in their room. They wanted to make certain you got peace and tranquility before your big day I suppose. It will be interesting to see what the other girls say.

Sukie said...

Mum and dad were always very wise and understanding, while still protecting us girls :O)

By the time I got married I already had my own room - being soooo much younger that you lot ha ha!

I have more memories of Gill insisting she made my face up and putting blood red lipstick on me!
I had to wash it off and replace it with my choice.

Babs (Beetle) said...

Oops! Sukie is me :O)

Croom said...

What a wonderful blog Leeta, I enjoyed reading it immensely. Yes Mum and Dad were always thoughtful and caring.

I guess we all have our ‘special’ memories but none as great as our wedding day’s.

Swubird said...


That is such a great story. And the part about your nighty being stitched together - I can just see you trying to put it on. What a riot.

Of course, your story probably reminds all of us of those early days when we would just get up and go. Barely enough money to pay the rent, no problem, let's have some fun.

I remember so well when my wife and I first moved to Los Angeles. A big city can eat you alive, but we came with only a hundred dollars in our pockets. How did we survive? I have no idea. Just on laughs I guess. Isn't it wonderful to think back to your youthful days of confidence and abandonment of all the rules?

Great story.

Happy trails.

granny grimble said...

So glad that you are still enjoying it. I was hoping your would share one of your wedding morning memories with us

It's funny but you always think you are the only one of your era who's shoes need heeling, or who doesn't know where the rent is coming from. It turns out that most of 'your crowd' are like you. But didn't we live and didn't we have fun!

Anne said...

This is all so interesting Leeta - can't wait for the next episode. Your mum and dad were just lovely people. Wonder what Arthur thought when you couldn't wear anything but your perfume on your wedding night!

Jay said...

So well told, and so funny - the nightie! LOL! - and yet again not so funny. I can't imagine spending my wedding night at my inlaw's house, but with them being the way they were, it must have been torture!

You survived it though! :)

GoldAnne said...

what a super blog leeta, i love the way you write its brilliant, I so invisage the whole scene,,
love anne xxx