Monday, 10th November 2003.


Conversation on Friday night:

"We're getting married, James!"
"I know. It's fantastic, isn't it?"
"I'm going to be your wife!"
"I'm going to be your husband! We'll never have to part again!"
<insert hug>
"Emily, we're actually getting married!"

(Repeat for three and a half hours)

The euphoria is stronger than ever. It's more or less sunk in, now, but it's still slightly awe-inspiring. One of the most oft-repeated phrases that I've heard this weekend was "We all knew it was going to happen, really" - this may well be true, but it signifies either the presence of an uncanny intuition, or the fact that over the last few months we've talked about marriage an awful lot, one way or another. At any rate, the thought of having Emily as my wife is incredibly appealing: I guess this is how it feels.

Ring shopping on Saturday; we visited three or four places in the space of an hour and wound up going back to the first place we'd been to ("I'm just acting out a regular shopping trip," she said, "but in an abbreviated form"). It was the right choice; Samuel's did have the nicest selection. Perched in one corner was a window display that detailed a not-terribly-convincing replica of the One Ring forged by the Dark Lord Sauron, complete with Elvish engraving. For some reason Emily didn't want this one, although I can't think why.

Sunday morning was the Remembrance service; I really did try and be reflective and think about the lost, but truth be told it wasn't particularly hand kept wandering into hers. I feel like a teenager. We stood for two verses of the National Anthem - I tend not to sing it but I figured the Queen had a pretty bad week and probably needed all the support she could get - and then went round the back. Emily was swamped by admirers who wanted to see the ring and shake my hand. As the emotionally-stunted (but rather sweet) Amanda was telling me about this year's pantomime, Nan Thomas approached and flung her arms around Emily's neck, crying "Congratulations!"

"All right," said Amanda. "Everyone's saying 'Congratulations'. So you have to tell me. Now - " and she placed her hand on her hip defiantly - "which is it? Engaged or baby?"
"It's the first, Amanda," I said, trying not to laugh. "We're going to get married."
"Well, duuuhh. Of course you're getting married if you've got engaged."
"Not necessarily. We might just stay engaged for years and years and years."
"No we will NOT," said Emily, with mock indignance.
"I don't think we're ready for a baby just yet," I said.
"I dunno," said Amanda, reflectively. "I've got lots of friends who got pregnant and then decided to get married."

Fair enough; it happens a lot, although I can't help thinking that my slightly traditional parents would probably threaten me with disinheritance. Holly, who was now involved in the conversation, pointed out that "White isn't a very flattering colour for a pregnant bride".
"Well, you know, you could, like, conceal it," said Amanda, well into her stride by now. "I mean, a mate of mine had this huge bump and she wore a jacket and a big skirt so that she'd be able to hide it. So you'd be all right if that's what you were doing."

Amanda wandered off, presumably to tell someone else that we were engaged but probably not expecting any children just yet, and Holly shot me a slightly world-weary smile, so I leaned over and whispered "Don't worry, I'll pray for her".

Baby Alice was surrounded by children. She had been good as gold during the service, punctuating the occasional silences with happy little gurgles, and behaved with remarkable restraint considering that she had been awake the whole time. When we were talking to Annie the other week, and discussing her Godparent choices, I pointed out that to a certain extent the whole Godparent issue was immaterial so long as she kept coming to Tilehurst, where she would be surrounded by a whole army of spiritual counsellors and babysitters and play companions, young and old alike.

It was easy to see why this morning. Holly stood with Alice nestled comfortably on her swelling womb, while Annie chatted with Jon and I snuggled up to Emily. Parent-and-child, soon-to-be-parents and will-hopefully-be-parents-one-day. The three different stages gathered together, and the most outstanding support for engagement and beyond. But I think the other image that struck me was the one of Alice lying in her carry cot, surrounded by five or six infants aged between three and seven, with a few of the older ones looking on, smiling.

I turned to Emily and declared, "You know, young children seem to be eternally fascinated with babies."
She nodded, and then said "Hey! Maybe that explains Jon!"

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