Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Marriages’

 

Lord Emsworth went to the window and looked out. The sun was shining brightly, the birds were chirping along merrily, the hollyhocks, carnations and Canterbury bells were swaying in a gentle breeze and bees, ants and butterflies were going about their business with vigour and vim. In short, God appeared to be in heaven.

But Lord Emsworth was in one of his melancholic moods. What weighed on his conscience was not the loss of his glasses, which were perched firmly on his nose and he could see all things clearly. Baxter, the world’s most efficient secretary, had just parted company with him owing to a difference of opinion in respect of the former hurling flower pots at the window of the latter. He suspected he will have a tough time finding another secretary as capable as Baxter.

However, this melancholy was short-lived. Psmith had just joined him and had successfully managed to secure for himself the vacancy that had arisen. Even though Psmith had confessed to having no prior experience of being a secretary, what went in his favour was the self-confidence with which he proposed his candidature, the fact that he was a member of the Senior Conservative Club and that he was the son Smith, the owner of the Corfby Hall, who had won a prize for tulips at the Shrewsbury Flower Show the year Lord Emsworth had won the prize for roses.

Psmith announced that he was about to be married to Ms Eve Halliday, probably the finest library-cataloguist in the United Kingdom.

‘She is a nice girl,’ said Lord Emsworth.

‘I quite agree with you.’

‘Congratulations are in order, my dear fellow, to both of you.’

‘I am extremely obliged,’ said Psmith. ‘But we are planning to go in for a slimmer, trimmer and smarter marriage, unlike one of those bigger and fatter marriages which take place elsewhere, like in Greece or India.’

‘Eh?’ said his lordship. ‘Is there anything which is causing any problem?’

Psmith patted the shoulder of his employer reassuringly. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘You might have heard of the Corona Virus which is catching up like wild fire across our planet these days.’

‘Cyrus….do you refer to George Cyrill Wellbeloved?’, enquired his lordship, shaking like an aspen. A dark cloud appeared to be casting a shadow on his visage.

‘No. I allude to a deadly virus which kicked off its journey in China and has rapidly spread across very many countries,’ responded Psmith. ‘It causes fever, cough and breathing difficulties. Human contact must be kept to a minimum to avoid its further spread.’

‘Do you think the Empress could contract this as well,’ cried his lordship, staring like a war horse at the sound of the bugle.

‘I would not venture a guess. Perhaps we need to consult a vet immediately.’

‘Let us do this right away,’ responded his lordship, peering sharply through his glasses. ‘The next Shropshire Show is not too far off, and we need to provide her all the protection she deserves.’

‘Absolutely’, said Psmith. ‘But allow me first to update you on the marriage plans without further delay.’

‘Marriage, eh? But who is marrying whom?’, queried his lordship.

‘Eve and I have plans of walking down the aisle pretty soon.’

‘Oh, yes, yes….quite, quite. Capital. Capital.’

‘As I said, we plan this to be a slimmer, trimmer and smarter affair. If you permit me, I wish to share some details with you.’

‘My dear fellow, you may do so quickly and then rush to arrange my meeting with an eminent vet.’

‘Obliged. We are working on a short video invite which would get delivered on the smart phones of our relatives and close friends. The invitation will request them to be available on their phones at the prescribed time. The marriage will take place only in the presence of our parents. The ceremony will be shown live to all invitees on their phones, thereby minimizing the chances of the virus becoming a contagion of sorts.’

Lord Emsworth drew himself up. But beneath the solemn friendliness of Psmith’s gaze hauteur was not easy to sustain. He sagged again, resigning to the situation.

‘So no wedding cake for all those invited?’ he commented dryly.

‘Far from it. To all those who are virtually present, we plan to send them return gifts comprising yoga manuals, some delectable chocolate figurines showing a marked likeness to the bride and the groom striking a Charleston pose and, of course,  hand sanitizer tissues with which they might wipe all the contents before touching the same. If the epidemic is already under control by then, we would send them gift coupons from famous restaurants located in their city of residence. This way, the carbon footprint of our marriage would be minimal and we shall make a modest contribution towards protecting our near and dear ones from the kind of exotic viruses which Nature keeps unleashing upon us at frequent intervals. Nature is calling upon humanity to change its polluting lifestyles and we need to heed the same. When Nature starts healing itself, all of us shall benefit. Roses, hollyhocks and others of their ilk would be happier. Birds would chirp more merrily. Bees and butterflies would go about doing whatever they do with renewed enthusiasm. Blandings Castle would thus be a happier place.’

Lord Emsworth perked up. ‘A novel idea, my dear fellow,’ he said.

‘We do believe so. It would be a win-win situation because all would get a bird’s eye view of the ceremony, avoiding travel, free of security bottlenecks due to VVIP attendees, no fat charges for hiring large venues, minimizing catering and other incidental costs.’

‘But the warmth of personal contact would be missing, don’t you think?’ commented his lordship.

‘Yes. Many of us would be missing the back-slapping, bonhomie and networking which entails at a traditional wedding. But social distancing is the key idea these days. One has to make tough choices in tougher times.’

Eve passed by on the terrace below. Psmith waved at her. She waved back at both of them and continued with her stroll.

Psmith continued with his tirade.

‘There are many other benefits of a smarter marriage of this kind. One, parents are spared the trauma of plastic smiles they have to put on so they may appear to be fair and polite to all those who land up in flesh and blood. Two, one does not need to hire detectives so as to ensure that all valuables remain safe. Three, with lesser number of those who keep firing instructions at the bride and the groom, both breathe easy and enjoy the proceedings better. Four, elaborate arrangements invariably make our income tax sleuths sit up and take notice. Such obnoxious occurrences are best avoided.’

‘Income tax!’ cried Lord Emsworth. Income tax and pigs were the only two subjects which really stirred him. ‘Let me tell you that the more you speak of a marriage of this kind, better sense you appear to make. Do please go ahead with your commendable plans. I hope you have drawn these up in consultation with Ms Halliday!’

‘Yes, indeed. Many of these happen to be her ideas,’ said Psmith graciously.

‘God bless you both.’

‘Permit me also to point out that under such circumstances when close encounters with others are best avoided, you could even exercise the option of cancelling the August Bank Holiday this year.’

‘Oh, that would be nice, indeed. The invaders would then not be able to trample over my flower beds, and I do not have to wear stiff collars and make infernal speeches!’

‘I thought you might like the idea,’ said Psmith.

‘Er, now about that vet…..’

‘Yes. I am just rushing off to enable a meeting of the kind desired by you. Meanwhile, may I suggest that you persuade Ms Monica Simmons to keep a strict watch on the Empress’ diet? Any large deviation therein could indicate her indisposition. If you consider it proper, you may even spread a rumour about her having attracted a contagious disease. This would keep pig-stealers of all hues, sizes and shapes under check for some time.’

‘Splendid. I shall attend to it right away’, said his lordship.

With a slight bow, Psmith withdrew.

(With due apologies to Plum; Inspired by https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/03/20/jeeves-deals-with-croronavirus-guest-post-by-eduardo-garcia)

 

Read Full Post »

 

The big and fat weddings which keep taking place all across the length and breadth of India are well known. These are occasions on which gullible parents, overjoyed by the prospect of finally getting rid of their respective wards, loosen their purse strings, showcasing their wealth, power and pelf.

Ostentatious decorations, lavish dinner spreads which could make Anatole raise his eyebrows a fraction of an inch, sumptuous upholstering of those in attendance and a chain of rituals which keep the hapless bride and the groom on their toes – all of these create an ambience which befits the social status of the well-heeled parents, making many others green with envy. It is another matter that such display of wealth often makes our tax sleuths sit up and take notice. The Bartholomews under their supervision promptly start sniffing around, their bare teeth on full display. Unless prompt steps are taken through proper channels, such visits get followed by a couple of tax notices. Tax consultants lose no time in demanding their own pound of flesh in the whole affair.

The Hapless Bride and the Groom

Clueless to-be-weds, having initially announced their matrimonial intentions, look helplessly around as the drama unfolds.  They may have had little say in the tough negotiations between their families as to the commercial terms and conditions of the proposed merger and amalgamation of two families.

Detailed arrangements to be made for their big day need the supreme intelligence of Reginald Jeeves. Around the big day, the poor youngsters go through a complicated litany of rituals, acting like dumb puppets under the command and control of senior relatives. When they make a grand entry, the grinning groom would normally be riding a well-decorated mare which is visibly shuddering due to the high pitch music being played by the band accompanying the procession. The dashing bride walks in, all decked up, a hand-held flowery canopy over her held by relatives and friends. The couple exchanges heavy garlands and soon starts experiencing cervical spondylitis.

High-end technology-backed priests chant unintelligible ‘mantras’ from Indian scriptures to the accompaniment of seven vows the couple takes while going around the sacred fire. The camera men call the shots as the wide-eyed couple refrain from openly complaining about tired facial muscles due to a need to keep smiling without a break, commercial or otherwise.

While the couple sounds bright and beaming, one never knows what is ailing them within. Realization dawns that while they may derive momentary pleasure in the proceedings, they have unwittingly unleashed some sinister forces which have snatched the initiative from their hands. It would not be surprising to find that both are resolving never to go through all the rigmarole once again in this life of theirs.

A Carnival of Egos

However, people assembled rejoice, not losing time to start gorging on rich food being served. Their taste buds reign supreme. Laughter and merriment is spread all around. A carnival of egos gets rolling, with each of the attendees shamelessly trying to prove his or her superiority to those around. Supercilious gazes, duly laced with ill-concealed jealousy, abound. Spruced up by expert cosmetologists, most of them come in wearing their societal masks, offering either a limp handshake or, in these virus-threatened times, a simple ‘namaste’.

Hosts suffer from having to put on synthetic smiles and greeting all and sundry – the essential ones, the desirable ones and the not-so-desirable ones. Their real worries are multi-dimensional: whether all arrangements would play out well, whether the gang of guests who whole-heartedly support a healthy supply of tissue restoratives would be exercising abundant caution, and if either the bride or the groom would play a vanishing act on the big day.

Onerous Duties of Detectives

Like Maudie, several owners of detective agencies prowl around the grounds, keeping an eye over the proceedings. One of their mandates is to keep guests like absent-minded Lord Emsworth on a tight leash, lest they pocket a couple of scarabs, if any happen to be floating around. Nabbing the likes of Smooth Lizzie before they could lay their hands on anything precious adorning the guests’ pear-shaped physical frames is yet another goal of theirs. Gifts and envelopes containing cash bestowed on the couple need to be kept under strict surveillance, lest these get pinched. Gangs of perennially giggling sisters of the bride need to be kept under a closer watch, so as to render their plans of stealing the groom’s footwear null and void. Bride’s ex-suitors who plan to throw rotten eggs and tomatoes at the groom when he struts out of the wedding need to be kept at bay, so he does not suffer the fate of Teddy Week in one of the Ukridge stories.

In other words, the detectives endeavour to avoid any kind of disaster which could sully the reputation of the hosts and lower the dignity of the occasion. Obviously, they have no control over the basic disaster occurring in the lives of the couple who happen to be blissfully unaware of what is about to hit them, much like the cosh used to deadly effect by Jeeves occasionally – the marriage itself.

Of Smarter Marriages

As technology invades all aspects of our lives, the marriages in the near future may become qualitatively different. E-Invites are already the norm. Video invites could soon become the order of the day. Gifts for the couple could be received by courier. Bobby Wickham’s Royal Academy of Goofy Technologies has already come up with a range of gift packs to suit all kinds of attendees. Return gifts – like laser-guided needles meant for puncturing hot water bottles – could reach potential attendees by courier services, along with pre-paid food coupons.

Celebrations could be telecast live over smart phones, thereby reducing the carbon foot print of the marriage and protecting our denizens from the kind of exotic viruses which Nature keeps unleashing upon us at frequent intervals. It is a win-win situation for everyone, providing a bird’s eye view of the proceedings, avoiding security bottlenecks due to VVIP attendees, fat charges for hiring large venues, huge catering costs, cushioned seating and other incidental costs.

Yes, many of us would miss the back-slapping, bonhomie and networking which entails at a traditional wedding. Some may shudder at the prospect of losing out on those awkward elbow shakes and clumsy fist bumps. Parents who are scouting around for potential soul mates for their progeny would get dismayed. Relatives who despise each other would miss the sadistic pleasure of passing caustic comments within the earshot of the party of the other part. Service providers of all hues, sizes and shapes would be upset at the downturn in their billings. But one has to make tough choices at times.

The time of smaller, slimmer and smarter marriages is already upon us. Rupert Psmith and Eve Halliday would surely approve.

(Illustration courtesy the www)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/a-goofy-career-opportunity-for-marketing-professionals

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/10/12/an-invitation-from-the-international-league-of-happiness

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/11/05/a-plummy-wish-for-a-bride-to-be)

 

Read Full Post »