In late 1980 John and I were still ‘feeling our way’ and stepping lightly in our new situation. After 24 years of circuit life we felt cut off with no congregations of our own, so to speak, although as time went by that changed and John found plenty to make him very busy, as I did myself. I was chief house keeper! Soon I was answering the phone, typing letters and being his secretary and social organiser.
We were delighted when Anabel and her boyfriend, John Marsh, announced they would like to be married early in the New Year. We thought that would take a bit of organising! Then it turned out they didn’t want a big wedding, but just a small affair with only parents and siblings (and partners) to be present, plus one close friend each, Valerie and Robert. They had not been engaged and Anabel didn’t want to be ‘given away’, or any other formality, but they planned to come to Newcastle and be married in West Avenue Methodist Church by Rev John Platts and Rev John Mitchell, father of the bride. We were very pleased about that. I could see pitfalls though: not everyone was happy about not being invited but, as Anabel and John said, if we have one we’d have to have them all, which was true. We reserved a table for lunch at the Northumberland Hotel and looked forward to the happy day.
That was 21st March 1981 and what a happy day it was. We all assembled at West Avenue Church in the morning. Rev John M went off to the vestry to join Rev John P, with Anabel and John. While we waited, the organist played ‘Sheep May Safely Graze’ which Anabel and John had chosen. They all came in together, Anabel and John hand in hand, and took their places at the altar. And in a short time they were joined in matrimony for better or for worse – I’m glad to say better has prevailed! The party at the Northumberland was great, the food was lovely and we had champagne bought by our newly acquired son-in-law who before long seemed more like a son! Remembering the whole day later, my feelings were that it was a good way to marry. The focus was on the actual marriage and those present were all closest family and friends. We came in our best clothes looking good without having to scour the shops for matching shoes etc. No stress! Anabel had a new suit and looked lovely. John was well turned out, except that when his Mum arrived at our house the first thing she said to him was, ‘John, I told you to get your hair cut!’
We had taken part in a ceremony which can stand alone. It is a tremendous commitment for the rest of their lives that the couple make in their vows to each other. The wedding was as Anabel and John had wanted it to be, but had they preferred a reception with 100 guests John and I would gladly have had a chat with our Bank Manager and gone ahead!
We went back to Ancroft Way where Anabel and John changed into their travelling clothes before going off to the station to start their journey to Amsterdam. Someone must have driven them but I can’t remember who! They had a lovely time there and have been back many times since.
Although Anabel had left home to work in libraries she had come home quite often, but it was different now. She had another tie and a home of her own, which sparked off the following verse.
21st March 1981
We all went to a wedding today;
Anabel and Elspeth and John and me.
Elspeth and I and John came home
Feeling a wee bit lost and lone,
Because Anabel had gone off with her groom;
Leaving us – with another spare room!
Hard to believe it is almost 37 years ago.