Nuptials, lessons learned and incessant babbling

The Ardern-Gayford distraction. PHOTO: NEW ZEALAND HERALD
The Ardern-Gayford distraction. PHOTO: NEW ZEALAND HERALD
Before I was sidetracked by Jacinda Ardern’s rumoured forthcoming nuptials, I was trying to convince myself I had learned something important last year.

Imagining I had gained some sort of wisdom in the last 12 months seemed preferable to making half-hearted New Year’s resolutions.

I was spoiled for choice on the resolution front — everything from reacquainting myself with the location of my ribs to kicking my procrastination habit, particularly when it comes to fixing things around my house and attending to the garden.

As I stuffed the last of the Christmas ham in a toasted sandwich, risking who knows what, I reckoned my ribs would still be lurking, waiting to be rediscovered next year, and so would what remains of the house and garden.

What difference would a resolution make?

My pathetic stab at wisdom last year was the realisation that the more I look forward to something, the more likely it is to disappoint.

If I had been paying attention, I would have grasped this in childhood — when I learned the truth about Santa. Christmas never seemed the same after that.

I was so gripped by the Santa story I used to hear reindeer (probably possums) on the roof and convinced myself I saw the jolly red chap sneaking into my room in the dead of night.

The event I expected to be the highlight of last year was attending one of The Chicks’ (formerly The Dixie Chicks) two Christchurch concerts.

Much of it was great. They performed my favourites and then some.

A highlight was their rendition of March March which was much better than the recording, thanks to the drumming of both drummer Jimmy Paxson and lead singer Natalie Maines.

Towards the end of the evening, when Maines was singing a number with little back-up instrumentation, I noticed a lot of noise which seemed to be coming from near the stage.

I thought there must have been some sort of drama — a fight or a medical incident perhaps, prompting the commotion.

It was neither. Just people babbling. Incessantly. The talking continued through several numbers where there was little instrumentation and, once I had tuned in to the noise, it was hard to tuneout.

What the heck were these people talking about? I could understand muttering if the crowd was displeased with the performance, but there was no indication of that.

I blame boozy boorishness, a situation brought on by having intervals which were deliberately longer than they needed to be to allow the establishment to move as much liquor as possible.

No fun for those of us not drinking or attending alone, as I was.

It spoiled the night for me.

I am not sure how to avoid over-egging the anticipation pudding. Never looking forward to anything for fear of a letdown seems miserable.

I wonder how the former PM is managing. Is she excited about the wedding day or dreading it because of the difficulty of maintaining a modicum of privacy around it?

Like many others, I would enjoy goggling at the spectacle, but recognise it is not our right to intrude.

I hope the occasion is not marred by media hounding.

Wedding days are stressful enough without that added attention.

Since my husband and I organised our wedding in about six weeks (no, I wasn’t pregnant), there was no time to overdo the anticipation.

There was no big budget for anything, let alone a dream frock. I bought something I didn’t really like, and which was not quite long enough but hey, it was $50 in a sale, and it fitted.

The cheap flat sandals I bought for the occasion were not the right size and gave me blisters.

After the wedding reception we brought the leftovers back to our place where we were joined by our guests for more conviviality.

Because it was our house, I felt obliged to be the hostess — heaven knows why, when there were plenty of relatives around to do that. By the end of the day I was overwrought.

Guests loved our wedding, but I can’t say I did. I often wonder how weddings years in the planning can possibly live up to the participants’ expectations.

When big money has been spent on every aspect and the whole thing is planned like a military operation, how does anyone cope if something goes wrong?

And, if it goes swimmingly, is everything that follows an anti-climax?

For Dame Jacinda and her family’s sake, I hope disappointment does not feature.

This year I am trying to move on from being disappointed by things I’ve been looking forward to.

Instead, I will be testing the theory that anything I dread will turn out better than expected.

That didn’t hold true for election year, but I’m hoping 2024 might surprise me.

 - Elspeth McLean is a Dunedin writer.