A very special date for Frances and me. We were, as may be imagined, at first surprised when Katherine said that the zoo was on the short list for their wedding, but on visiting it with her and her partner Nasar we saw what a splendid venue it would be. And so it came to pass.
The wedding took place in the Georgian house on top of Corstophine Hill now known as the Mansion house which stands within Edinburgh Zoo but has exceptional southerly views of Edinburgh and the hills around. It was given a baronial makeover in 1891 when it was occupied by the Macmillan family. The house and the estate were sold to the Scottish Zoological Society 1912 for £17000. Enough though of its history, suffice to know it really was an exceptional location for a wedding.
The ceremony took place in the Macmillan room which is so beautiful, it is like being in the middle of a Wedgwood fairy cake. The day dawned without rain and being there early I helped usher in the guests from the Members entrance to the house, thus starting to get to know guests I had never met before. The actual ceremony started with Nasar on double bass as you see here with Malik (senior man at the Guardian).
I then proudly led in Katherine and Aiisha (who proved to be very much part of the ceremony).
And proceedings began with Nasar very much the proud head of a beautiful family. He looked spectacular in his outfit….and Aiisha’s plaster on her head didn’t show too much! The ceremony was delightful with readings and a children’s story, exchanging of vows (and rings), and everyone was entranced. I don’t think there was any way in which it could have been nicer.
We then had photos of course (the photographer being particularly good at coaxing the results he wanted). And then to the lunch. Because I was giving the first speech I was very nervous (but then again I found out that everyone else giving speeches was too!……surprising really as we were all used to talking in public ). I couldn’t really eat, so I can’t say I enjoyed the meal, but what I did enjoy at the meal was meeting all of Nasar’s extended family and Katherine and Nasar’s friends. Here are Sophia, Khaliq (senior at the BBC) and Samira.
And here Nasar’s mum Ruqia whom I got on with very well indeed. She was at our table of course so I got plenty of opportunity to talk.
Judy was here from Spain and enjoyed herself very much I think. So F. and her sister have a combined age of around 150 years…looking at this pic, you would have to say….absolutely unbelievable!
And David and Jennifer looked the part and enjoyed theirselves.
The dining room looked magnificent and beautiful views outside only added to the effect. And it was lovely to find a present at my place which, when I opened it, proved to be ‘A Daughter’s Love’ by one of my favourite historians John Guy. What more could I ask?
The Meer brothers are famous for wandering around chatting rather than sitting down and eating, so we were never short of an interesting conversation! This time it is Malik (second most senior person in NHS London..what a responsibility).
Cutting the cake was a joint effort as you see, and later on there was another cake (this time composed of cheeses).
We were not short of things to do as there was an Indian dancing demonstration which then led to lessons. This went down very well. There was a disco. There was an opportunity for some people to see the famous Edinburgh pandas. And there were lots of areas where one could just sit down and chat to other people. Oh and I forgot to mention the magician (he was great), and the face painting, and probably other things I have forgotten.
All in all a memorable occasion. A beautiful wedding, and a chance to meet Nasar’s very high-flying family, a remarkable lot indeed. We hope we see more of them….
My speech went something as follows…
“I’ve read that the ‘Father of The Bride’ speech is ‘usually seen as a bit of a warm-up act, and something to be endured rather than enjoyed’. And that it’s really best to leave it to the Best Man to lay into the Groom. I don’t intend to let either of these two things worry me.
So my first pleasant task is to thank you all for coming especially if you knew who would be making the speeches. I’d particularly like to acknowledge the two mothers, of Bride and Groom, and in the plethora of success and achievement that Nasar and his brothers and sisters represent, I’d like to draw their attention to the fact that their mother Mrs Meer…Ruqia (Ruh-kay-ah) is undoubtedly wiser than the lot of them, and if they ever need any advice I am sure they know that’s where to go…..
Now as you might expect Katherine and Nasar are not letting this occasion go by without getting an academic paper out of it….luckily, or perhaps unluckily, I’ve been able to find out the title….I accessed their many daily emails to each other…The Title is….
Zoos Myth and Reality : the prevention of neurogenesis diminished social avoidance, how a postmodern, poststructuralist, dissimilar affirmative social event predicates the anticipated epistemological repurcussions and the deeper structuralist conceptualization of coupling constants
or in other words the implications of holding a marriage in a zoo (and the long-term consequences thereof).
So I thought I’d better warn you about that, and also, for those of you giving speeches, you need to know that Katherine and Nasar are awarding a substantial Prize for the best speech. Which is why in this sea of blue I have opted for the stand-out grey look so that you’ll remember me when it comes to the voting…..
Now, here’s a strange thing. When Katherine first asked me to say a few words today, this was followed, this is not a word of a lie, by 2 or 3 follow-up telephone calls in which she said ‘Dad, are you sure you want to do this?’! I can only assume of course that she had been reading what the form was on these occasions, and that fathers, usually with some ease I should think, bring up a few embarrassing incidents from their offspring’s childhood. Well….far be it from me to mention things like the time when she made her little brother eat a chillie, or on another occasion a dog biscuit (telling him it was really nice, and that we eat them all the time) or, and I can hardly bear to mention this, when we took our little dog who couldn’t swim to the River and she forced him in, and when he swam to the nearest point to get out, she made him do it again repeatedly to the point where he eventually jumped in himself. No, I’m definitely not the type to drag these things up.
Now if you talk to either of our children about their upbringing, it’s not long before you’ll hear the sob story that they haven’t got ‘a real home’. I realise now, after feeling distraught for years about that, that what they mean is they have had lots of homes. In fact Katherine had had 10 different homes by the time she was 13. But what our children don’t realise is that we moved home often for a very good reason….which I can now demonstrate. Now just copy what I say. Mamma Mia. That’s Yorkshire for ‘Mum, I’m home…’ So now you see the reason for the moves…we were protecting our children from developing a strong regional accent, and we have thereby accelerated their careers.
Anyhow, I’d rather dwell on the present and say how proud we are of the person Katherine has developed into (despite us), and of her success. Her Mum is going to describe her in a few words shortly so I don’t want to steal her thunder. I know the recent round of musical Chairs didn’t quite end up with two Chairs and Nasar, the competitive person that he is, ended up with the last Chair available, but it’s only a matter of time before K gets an even more prestigious Chair, and so Nasar will have to look to his laurels.
Now I think I’ve finished my Introduction, and am getting to the meat of the speech so that brings me onto Nasar. How can I describe him in a few words? Best not to try I suppose. Nasar, the Buffy fan, the man who can shed tears whilst watching ’Titanic’, the man who is famously decisively indecisive, the man who decided to sell all their furniture on eBay and start from scratch to fit their new flat and then at the last minute decided he didn’t want to sell any of it (bar the one item that was so ugly that it didn’t have any bids anyway) and had then to make frantic efforts to ensure he was the highest bidder on all the furniture (which resulted in Katherine and he paying eBay to retain their existing furniture)……
I do sometimes question whether Nasar has the full sense of humour that our family has (very necessary in our family)..so look we’ll give him a little test…Nasar, What’s the difference between a hippo and a Zippo? One’s very heavy and the other’s a little lighter!
More testing jokes for Nasar here…..
Censored bit here!!
……… No, I do think Nasar’s strengths outweigh his failings (although it’s a close-run thing). Obviously, we were delighted on first meeting Nasar that Katherine had chosen well, and we remain so. He does have many strengths (I won’t embarrass him by listing them), and we both love him to bits. We love them both and so
TOAST ……here’s to the future of Nasar, Katherine and their growing family….”
Could I remind those following me (I’ve been allowed a little leeway) that The Gettysburg address was only ten sentences long. Thank you…………….
This epic was followed by my (mother of the bride’s) short speech! I described how Judy and I first met Nasar at the flat in Alvanlea terrace. This very polite young man who had only recently joined Katherine and assorted flatmates immediately offered us a cup of tea, which we gratefully accepted. Nasar and I have been enjoying our tea ever since – it is very special as we both prefer tea out of proper china cups so Nasar brings out the tea service with tea pot, small plates (there is always cake) cups and saucers and milk jug every time we visit. I also mentioned how beautiful Katherine was as a baby and how proud I am that she has become such a beautiful woman. Of course, Aiisha is now the most beautiful child in the world and she is lucky to have such wonderful parents.