No. I headed for my hotel which was a few streets away. I had booked months ago and when I arrived had been greeted with the words, "Do you want the good or the bad news"? Considering the stresses of the previous few hours I opted for the bad news first with the warning that I had had a day of bad news so bad had actually better mean good rather than bad and the good should be a lot gooder than good!
The hotelier looked at me baffled.
"We've double booked your room"
"The good news is we have upgraded you"
He proceeded to grab a candle (artistic licence here) and we began to climb the stairs.
Up and up we went treads creaking followed after several flights by joints creaking until eventually we arrived in the attic. Helpful pieces of rope hung from the rafters so you didn’t hit your head on the beams, although if a gust of wind had blown out your candle you would think you were being attacked by very heavy cobwebs. Just think of the size of the spider that could knit that, arachnophobes!!
I was shown into my "upgraded" room. It was clean and comfortable and had a double bed. It was also very small. Not all the bulbs worked and they had had to create a shower room by boxing off the corner of the room. There was a bewildering array of switches, some of which worked the shower. others did the hot water and some even did the lights.
Still wide awake I tried the TV. The satellite reception was poor and so channels kept freezing of pixellating. In the end I managed to find a documentary on Lionel Richie and watched that until about 2am. Then thinking of my friends and family struggling to sleep in a haunted hotel I switched off the light at the fifteenth attempt after starting the shower and boiling the kettle accidentally and readied myself for a calm and dreamless sleep to awake refreshed ready for the big day.
BOY WAS I WRONG...
A storm had sprung up sometime between "Hello" and "Dancing on the Ceiling". I was in the attic. The rain drummed on the roof. It lashed the tiny draughty window, the building groaned and shuddered and in between heroic gusts it had woken people all over the hotel. So what do people who wake up in the middle of the night do? They go to the loo. They may opt for a relaxing bath and they certainly want to avail themselves of the complimentary tea and coffee making facilities.
This all requires water. Where does that come from? Yes, well done amateur plumbers; it comes from the cold water tank which generally is placed in the, er, attic - in this case directly outside my room with the pipes embedded in the wall behind the bed.
“This is rather noisy”, he said. Ever the champion of understatement.
A few short hours later and a lengthy cramped shower I met my friends for breakfast at the Mermaid who were also hosting the reception. They had done a fine job laying a large table for a dozen or so. This also enabled the guests from various sides of the aisle to get to know each other. There were a lot of mutual friends there but apart from the Dark Lady who of course for wedding etiquette reasons was nowhere to be seen before the ceremony, no one had met my Best Men: Simon from school and Clive from college. General pleasantries were exchanged until someone asked Clive what he did for a living....
There then followed the most surreal breakfast conversation with the two ushers, Theo and Hannah’s eyes getting rounder and rounder as the tales began to tumble out.
Clive is the mastermind behind Bill Shipton creater of SPLOSH. This is probably best described as “erotic slapstick”, a sexual genre which has become so well known over the years that it has many websites which are worldwide in their reach. It was even featured in an episode of Belle de Jour: Diary of a Call Girl starring Billie Piper and film maker John Waters is a fan.
The waitresses hurried in and out bringing fabulous fry-ups and more coffee as tales flew back and forth across the table in front of a rapt audience.
"The Americans call it WAM which stands for Wet and Messy. We, however, invented it all 20 or so years ago.”
"More coffee, Sir?"
"Custard in the knickers is fine but jelly chafes"
"Who's for the full English with two poached eggs?"
"So the TV company said to me at this point is this where we'll get the punter to have sex with the cake? I told them in no uncertain terms; it’s not like that. We don't have intercourse with foodstuffs. It is erotic. It is funny. It is slapstick. It isn't hard core pornography!"
"Our audience regularly vote the cake fight in the film The Great Race the best example of Sploshing.”
Nicola - who is a very big cheese in the advertising world - was rapt. She is also a businesswoman and was quizzing him about download statistics and prices. It was heartwarming to see both sides get on so well and a testament to our friends that they were so easy with one another.
After breakfast I had time to kill which actually meant taking my car back to Hastings to stick it in the garage and check on my family who had been there overnight.
Clive, Simon and Nisha then started on the arduous task of getting ready to dress the Town Hall and add various important bits (mainly lanterns candles and electric candles) to the Tudor Room where the reception was going to be held.
I was then left .....to wait.......