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Thursday, July 06, 2006
PART THREE: Cornwall

At some point in Cornwall, I looked over at Matt and said, “People are going to ask us about our trip, and we are going to say, ‘it was great!’” I was sad when I said this, because Cornwall was so many things, and I don’t think great covers it, and I don’t think I can approximate it, but I promised a part 3, so here it is.

The train ride was magnificent. We met up with Tim, Jenni, and Florence on the party train to St. Austell (pronounced snozzle). There seemed to be people sitting in our seats, but our seats were also weirdly numbered. We all seemed to have 48 or 49 F or B, but why no A, C, D, or E? After several acutely embarrassing and utterly stereotypical brain-dead American moments (at the wedding, an Englishman was to compare Americans to Barney: You’re all a bit big and dumb and lovely and friendly, aren’t you? he said, Britishly. And purple, I said, nodding in vigorous, Scotch-fueled agreement.), a young and exceedingly cute and polite Brit college boy explained that F and B referred to forward and backward FACING, as in the direction of travel. Oh. He was to prove very helpful throughout the journey, if ever so slightly incredulous at just how dumb we are. OK, fine, I’m an idiot, boo-hoo.

At Snozzle, we were met by the adorable Lance Windish, and spent a few moments searching for Steve, a tiny bit of a ding-a-ling, who was in the bathroom. Then onto the Chapel. The Chapel. Cerris is not from a small town. She is not from a tiny seaside village. She doesn’t live near the sea. These are all myths. She is from the hamlet of East Portholland. East Portholland has 8 buildings, a streetlamp, and a phone booth that looks like it fell out of an airplane and landed in someone’s yard. There is a post office, and a lady who’ll make coffee for you in her kitchen. If you think General Foods Internatinal House of Coffees fucking powder in hot water is coffee, which I most assuredly do not. The Chapel sits on a jetty. When the tide is out, there is a huge beautiful beach with little pools and rocky outcroppings, when the tide is in, the ocean is at the door. Every morning there, I found something like coffee and went right out to look at the sea. In England, people think it is weird when you call it the ocean. They say it with a weird accent, the way we would say “the sea”. They’re all pretty fucked up over there, to be perfectly honest.

As we drove down the last bit of road to the Chapel, I was struck by how familiar it looked, and remembered I had dreamt of just this road a few weeks before. It was a sensation that would repeat many times in the trip. I have some weird connection to Cornwall. It was like de ja vu all over again. Many times throughout my life I have woken from a dream about a beach I have never seen in waking life and wondered where it was. Now I know. We met up with Connie and Groomsman Tom, picking ivy and wildflowers for the reception hall. Several hundred feet on, we got to the Chapel and were greeted by the divine Groom Caley and his multi-talented Groomsman Hal, who both got a demonstration of how acrobatic my happiness can be when I get somewhere I have always wanted to go, like the Chapel. If you don’t know Caley, you should try to figure out a way to meet him. He is a good fairy. Lance made us all a stir-fry, and by all I mean everyone in the world. There were probably 12 of us staying at the Chapel, and it seemed like hundreds of other people stopped by. The evening is sort of a blur, I know Hal was playing guitar, Matt was humming, and I was conducting some sort of arts and crafts project on the vintage cake topper that involved the top to an olive oil bottle, felt, and a sharpee, among other things. I hate arts and crafts.

The next day, we decorated the hall. The Veryan Social Club is in a glorious spot, but it is a little bleak. Were it not for Connie Tarbox’s way with a bow and a big team of swathers, there would have been a problem. But we made it a glorious place for a party, and then it was off to the rehearsal. In the car, English Lisa’s husband was very nice to me, making sure I didn’t need to stop home, making sure I had everything I needed. It took him 15 minutes to realize I wasn’t Cerris. After that, he was still extremely polite, if a little less attentive.

The wedding rehearsal was conducted in a 15th century church by, I believe, the original vicar. He spoke to us at length about the importance of relaxing, of feeling relaxed, and of cultivating relaxation. Fortunately, I brought cookies, which kept a few of us awake for 15 minutes or so, but he may want to rethink being quite so relaxing to some pretty severely lagged Americans in the future. After a lovely nap in the church, it was back to The Chapel for a face wash and a change of clothes, and then off to the rehearsal dinner. The Nare Hotel is gorgeous, elegant, and stately, and it sits on a cliff overlooking the sea. We had drinks by the pool in the garden, and dinner in front of the open french doors looking out to the water. There was a lot of wine and incredible food, and I got caught up with droll Groomsman Tony Cross and his adorable gal Danica (both Sarah Lawrentians). BestMan Harry had yet to arrive, earning him the nickname “Harry.” “Harry” was periodically calling from the road, “Harry” was stopping for scotch and carrots and cigars, “Harry” was on his way. When Harry arrived, I admit, I was thunderstruck. He exists, and is a charmer, but in the quiet, mysterious way that can get lost in a sea of screaming maniacs, such as the wedding party was shaping up to be. English bridesmaid Lisa W proves to be more outspoken, wild, fun, and awesome than me and Connie combined, though Connie was somewhat on the injured list and not at full throttle. American bridesmaid Lisa H is no shrinking violet, and Tom, Hal, and Tony are mischievous in the extreme. Cerris and Caley sat at the head of the table looking so gorgeous it was just stupid, smiling at all of us with the sun setting over a deepening dark sea behind them. By the end of dinner, we were all best friends, a village called CaleyandCerristown. And Pahu hadn’t even arrived yet.

The next morning there were last minute decorations for the hall, which we successfully transformed from a pretty damn bleak cricket club to a place for dancing and dining and whiling away a long Cornish night. It doesn’t get dark there in midsummer until 11, so the evenings have a fairytale quality of never ending. The wedding was absolutely beautiful, I sang all the hymns in a high English warble which I for one found extremely entertaining, and then it was off to the reception which I will admit was a bit of a blur. That may have something to do with the post-wedding photo call for the wedding party where flasks of Scotch were passed (see also: Hal, Tony). I warned them that I don’t do well with any sort of whiskey, which they perceived as a sort of promise more than a threat I think. Danica emailed me recently to say I am so funny in the movie that Lisa W. and I made that night. The what?

The reception was incredible, so many friends and people feeling really happy and great. The toasts were wonderful, Caley’s Dad made me cry, Cerris’ Mom brought down the house, Harry showed himself to be possibly the funniest man alive, and my husband did the freak with Brenda Blethyn. What more could anyone want? I smoked cigarettes with some disaffected English youth, danced a lot, and went for little strolls around the Cricket green. Finally, finally, it got dark. The shuttle arrived to take us home. On the bus, Matt was trying to find the thing on my seat that would let it recline a bit, and said “I can’t find your little lever…there’s something I don’t say everyday.” Brenda and Camilla cracked up, and in her bawdiest barroom drawl Brenda yelled, “Let us know when you find it!” Goodtimes.

The next day was our last day in Cornwall, and it stretched on for something like 84 hours, in a great way. Connie had yelled her heart out at her own wedding and lost her voice, so she was carrying a pad and paper and wearing a sign pinned to her sweater that said “My husband won’t let me speak. Please don’t tempt me.” That is just not a sight I ever thought I’d see. There were hours of brunch, and then we went on a little walk. For hours, we walked along the cliffs, and we stopped at a crumbling old tiny lookout for a concert by Pahu, Hal, and Matt, on kazoo. Matt has a mournful way with a kazoo. I think the three of them have a future as a band, more so if Tony could be persuaded to join in on fiddle. I would totally be a roadie for that band. Given my proficiency at and passion for the cowbell, I might even join that band. I bet cowbell skills come in handy in Cornwall. When we got back, many people pitched a tent, and a Cornish folk sing along band played for about 16 hours, with periodic accompaniment and even occasional downright replacement by Tony, Hal, Pahu, and Matt. I sat in once on tambourine. Bit of a percussionist, really. Cerris requested that Pahu sing the Carrie Murphy song, but there was no Carrie Murphy song. Now there is one, because I commissioned it, and I really like it. I can’t wait to hear “Carrie Murphy: The Hottest Bridesmaid”; the lyrics are extremely promising and of course, right on the money.

But all good things must eventually end spectacularly badly, or fizzle out, or implode, so instead of any of that, I said a few quick goodbyes and went to bed. Cerris’ mom yelled at me for leaving, she was actually angry I would leave. I feel that. In the early morning, Connie and Lance drove us to the train and took lots of pictures of us with all our bags looking sad on the platform. It took a long time to get home, but our cat and most of our plants were alive and well and happy to see us, thanks to a few good friends. We had a pizza, and went to sleep.

Coming up next: the upshot.

posted by pinky 12:03 PM

novella- I'm sure you know... but now think I memoir is the way to go...great!!!!!

This post needs a flickr link!
Glad you still write on your blog my friend.
Hope you are well (and yours)
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