Just when The Sensible Bond is up and running again, I have to disappear for a week on various errands. Typical!
I rather like that word 'errand'. It is the sort of language my grandmother used to use if we asked where my mother had disappeared to: 'She's gone an errand', she would say, as if that explained anything. Well, dear readers, I had to go an errand! Well, several in fact.
But most importantly, to the celebration of my parents' fiftieth wedding anniversary. It was a momentous and joyous occasion. The in-laws and the outlaws rolled in from far and wide, and the party, which was scheduled to last from 1-5pm, rolled on well into the summer evening. Fifty years of marriage are quite an achievement, and my father celebrated the fact in his short thank-you speech by acclaiming his family stock and referring (quite meretriciously!) to their part in the Norman Conquest and Agincourt! For the duration of the the party - and, I have it on good authority, ever since - my mother out-grinned the Cheshire Cat, and one was left with admiration and wonder for the deep peace a life of commitment, wounds not withstanding, can deliver. An impromtu concert broke out in the mid-afternoon and its strains floated over the Berkshire countryside until we could barely see each other for the gathering gloam (or do I mean, since the end was near, the looming gloom? No matter).
My wife and I were left wondering if we would ever see our fiftieth anniversary - not that she has had enough of me yet, although nobody could blame her if she had! My father and mother were early starters by today's standards, having married at the practically toddler ages of 25 and 23 respectively. It was a different moment, a different time. Britain was gearing up for the massively regressive sexual revolution which has left its suppurating open wounds all over the national psyche. Fast-forward fifty years and we met a woman this week who is buying a house with larger rooms so that her girls can 'bring boys home with them'. She could not have shocked me more if she had explained the size of her oven by reason of the need to roast small children whole. 'Do you like children?' is the socially acceptable question. 'Yes, but I couldn't eat one on my own,' is the reply I like to give. But why are people more shocked at that than at the prospect of their teenagers bringing home sundry objects of either sex - I use the word 'objects' advisedly - for the purposes of mutual abuse?
Yes, fifty years is a long time in the saddle to see the world change so much. And yet there it is like a fact, a rock, a mountain range of experience and solidity against the erosion of our better instincts, the corrosion of our mores, and promising the eclosion of all that is good in human society. 'Come under the shadow of this red rock', as Eliot says - not that anyone knows exactly what his 'red rock' is, but why should it not be life-long, nuptial, fruitful faithfulness?
There are many scales on which our lives are weighed out, but why should they not be weighed out on this scale? Happy anniversary, Mum and Dad. Humble and enduring faithfulness makes mightier worlds than all our tin-pot, gone-tomorrow lusts can muster.