Tuesday, 26 February 2013

blood wedding

a dozen drunken uncles are pissing up the wall
grandad is grinning
there's no one home at all
happy ever after*

So, Birmingham. Tipton Sports and Social Club. Saturday night.

We got to Birmingham through the wonders of modern technology - I will never travel to that god-forsaken city without a sat nav ever again. We found our hotel - a term I use loosely, although Premier Inns aren't as bad as I thought - I only had to drive around a housing estate briefly after the sat nav (or she-who-must-be-obeyed) told us to, "do a U-Turn as soon as you can." Er, isn't that illegal? Anyway we got there. After a quick meal in the Brewer's Droop (or possibly Fayre) we called a taxi. The first one had disappeared by the time we walked the one minute it took to get downstairs, so we ordered another one. Two turned up. I approached the first one and asked if it was for Leeke to Tipton, "Yeah, yeah, whatever" - I looked at the other one thinking, is this a scam? Anyway, someone else was climbing in to that one, so we jumped in. After a few minutes as we passed the local Tesco at speed then took a hanger right, the driver asked us where we were going. I told him. Then he asked if we knew where it was.

"Er, no, that's why I got a taxi."

"Okay, no problem." Fiddles with sat nav. "Okay."
We got there. By now, Mrs D was thinking, if he charges more than a tenner, it's going to be an argument.
"A fiver, please."
Blimey, he got us there quickly and it only cost a fiver.   It was beginning to snow and it looked less inviting than Barack Obamah's invitation to Lady's Night at the KKK AGM. But we went in - the taxi had gone. Off to find another fare to somewhere he didn't actually know.

We entered said establishment. Now, I'm not sure, gentle readers, how familiar you are with such establishments but you may have had to endure spend an evening at such a do. We were a little early but we weren't invited to the actual wedding. The scene was one of several trestle tables full of characters from the Oysterband's Blood Wedding* with hundreds of very small children running around playing with balloons. The bar looked uninviting but, hey, it's a bar. I managed to negotiate some drinks -  a few glasses (actually mini bottles) of white wine was possible. No problem there. I looked at the rows of lager and Caffreys and John Smiths pumps and my heart sank. I got a little panicky - a bit like an eleven year old being told Mr Savile was coming to babysit. Anyway, I spotted a bottle of Morland's Old Speckled Hen and felt a little relieved (as though the party was cancelled and JS won't be around after all).

Eventually a few more characters started turning up. I was heartened by the fact that the previous wedding to this one was, "Really Chavvy." Oh dear. I must explain at this point that we were at my nephew's wedding. Now, I'm not just trying to make fun of this, there is a point to what I'm writing here. We have been here before  and nobody here was from Essex. But, there is a current style of wedding that has become popular since certain programmes on the tv have celebrated them.

There were a lot of larger ladies at the do. Now, as a skinny person, it's so easy to mock, I guess. The amount of flesh and tattoos and high heels and boobs that were on show was pure Essex. And I don't even watch these shows but understand what that means! At one point the bride fell over - obviously accidentally but I wonder if the old iPhones were out? Harry Hill is awaiting your call now. Lots of tears, anyway.

Now, the food was a spectacle. Not exactly what one might call delicate. Less of a finger buffet and more like the whole bloody arm. Pork Pies that were just pie crust and jelly, rolls so full of egg and salad cream** that a it would make a family meal. But, stop! It's so easy to jest. This isn't really the point - I said there was one.

It was the dancing. I will admit to rushing back from the bar mid-order to dance with Mrs Dave to Brown Eyed Girl but other than that, the music really was (for me) quite dire. There was a lot of what can really only be described as "dance-offs". I've not really witnessed it before. Every so often, a ring would form with much hand clapping. A woman or girl would wander into the centre and twirl around with little ceremony. And then the blokes started. Oh my god! The beer riddled floor and cheap perfume could not disguise the testosterone on show that night. It would appear that such modern dances are "test-fests" (I made that up). Young lads of primary age were body-popping and shuffling across the floor in a sort of young exuberant display of energy. Then adults - I'm talking of guys in their 20s and 40s - were showing off. One guy danced like David Brent but it seemed like it wasn't a joke; another 40 year old shuffled across the floor like a cross between the amoeba twist*** and Devo's Jocko Homo (check 3:40 into the video)

I'll tell you what it was like, it was like watching bands from the seventies when every member of the band had to play a solo whether they were capable or not, or some sort of play-off where you show 'everything you got' (maybe a tribal thing). I'm not joking, it was a real Man's Thing. The females got a cursory sop of a twirl. It was horrible and pretty embarrassing (unless you happened to be an anthropologist). Also, for Birmingham, I was surprised that there was only one Asian in the whole place. Yet, the music was predominantly black, hip-hoppy and repetitive. One hell of an experience but not a situation I feel comfortable in. I guess I'll refer us all back to Show of Hands' Roots -They're playing and dancing all night long/So what have they got right that we've got so wrong?****

The point. I was surprised at the testosterone level on show - perhaps I shouldn't be. It wasn't about how awful the wedding may have been/not been. I am surprised at the Imperialistic view still there as far as appropriating other cultures. I had no intention of bringing up Roots but it does seem to crop up every so often. I am not advocating any form of fascistic view but I really don't want to feel embarrassed about what little bit of culture we've possibly got left. I was so pleased that RT still harks back to the tradition even now. this blog post was going to mention the Cambridge gig but it's for next time.

for richer, for poorer,
for better or for worse,
now we are married, a blessing or a curse
kiss me and don't forget
what you see is what you get

* Zouk, lyrically the clue is in the video
** I guess egg mayonnaise has yet to hit this corner of Birmingham
*** as performed by Patto c. 1974, and my good self in The Pillar of Hercules, Soho c. 1980
**** Sorry to raise this one again, feel free to agree/disagree/give a shit


Martyn Cornell said...

Ah, the family wedding. Not been to one (except my own two) for decades, but my favourite was the one where the stag do and the hen night accidently met up in the same pub the night before the nuptuals, and the bride-to-be and groom-to-be (my cousin) had a vicious row in the middle of the bar. The next day the bride arrived at the register office in the full meringue, chewing gum and swearing like a docker, which caused my entire family, half a dozen or so sets of uncles and aunts – who were most certainly not snobs, but knew enough about class and dignity – to look at each other with eyebrows soaring. No one expressed any surprise when the marriage crashed and burned some six months later.

Dave Leeke said...

"The next day the bride arrived at the register office in the full meringue, chewing gum and swearing like a docker"

Ah, thank you, Martyn, such an evocative image. And then you add "crashed and burned" - I love it!

The eyebrows soaring, too . . . wonderful. How come so many long term relationships choose to get hitched? It always ends in tears.

Haha . . .

eeyorn said...

Yikes!!! I'm due to drive to B'Ham soon for a Facebook friends meet, along with 2 probably disabled strangers that I'll be picking up on the way. We're meeting at a hotel near New St. station, with no satnav. Wish me luck!!!

Dave Leeke said...

Well, good luck with that one then. A few years ago I had to take one of my daughters to Birmingham Uni for a science convention. Needless to say, we were quite late. The major road in had a diversion and I was totally thrown.

We got there in the end but she missed lunch. I firmly believe that one needs to have looked at a map and have a fairly good idea about where one is heading but I am very grateful that my car came fitted with a satnav!