Monday 2 April 2007

Neveys Christening

I say 'Christening', but it was Baptist church, so no water was involved: that apparently comes later, when you are old enough to have chosen if you want your face washed by a priest or not.
A very nice day was had by all, I think. Lots of people pitched in and helped, but this blog isn't the place to thank them all, so I won't. Actually, if I'm being honest, I can't: Nini is the person who keeps track of these things - she keeps a notebook. Everything that needed to happen at the Christening is written down in it somewhere, along with a myriad of other vital/trivial information, such as who bought what for the girls at Christmas (so that thankyou letters may be written), shopping lists, recipes and addresses, along with the odd page of either scribble or densely layered stickers where she has let Amelie play with it. I sometimes wonder if these tattered notebooks might be a far better fossil record of our lives than anything I could write here: not only are they kept more regularly, but I doubt they contain any kind of poisonous rant about parking spaces.
Anyway, if you helped in any way - and a large portion of this blog readership did, I think - then my heartfelt thanks.
Nini is a regular churchgoer, but I'm not, so it's always an odd feeling for me to go to church - but even odder to see my side of the family there, odder yet to see Gary there as well, odder still to see him dressed in a tie for the occasion, and odd beyond surreal to hear him talk about it: ("Like it? It goes with the jacket lining. I bought it for a gangsters birthday party...")
Garys attire deserves further mention: a delicate pinstriped jacket in summer colours that looked (to me anyway, but my mind is famous for being a kind of sarcastic sewer) like it was designed specifially for Cambridge scholars to wear with a boater while they punt their boyfriends down the Cam. Whenever I caught sight of it, I found myself thinking how nice it would be to have a glass of Pimms in the sunshine. He is Neves Godfather (well one of them), and Shelley is her Godmother (well, one of them) and I could hear them whispering behind me while Pastor David did the reading:
S: "Why aren't you wearing black?
G: "I didn't want to wear black. It's a Christening, not a funeral"
S: "I'm wearing black becuase I thought you'd be wearing black. You always wear black."
G: "I don't. You haven't seen me in 20 years."
S: "You're all...colourful. And I'm all in black. How do you think that looks?
G: "It's like the vicar said: in life you have the darkness and the light. It looks like I'm the light and you're the darkness.."
Shelley got her revenge later, when a small child asked her if Gary was her father. Shelley is 33. Gary is 35. He didn't look so colorful when he heard that..
When Neves big moment came we piled onto the raised platform at the front. It may have been the earlier appearance in the service of a pantomine camel, but the temptation to hold Neve aloft and wave her over the audience, like the start of the Lion King, was overwhelming: "Look Simba! All that the light touches will one day be yours"...but I managed to resist.
(I am not joking about the camel. It appears modern religion has seriously moved on since I went to Church parade in Cubscouts. My Mother-in-law informs me that one one occasion she has seen glove puppets deployed in church to fight to the good fight, though sadly not from the pulpit.)
Neve was angelic for all of her big day. She either slept, or smiled, throughout. Amelie too, was very good, with one minor transgression: the Christening meal was held in the hall adjoining the main body of the church (a kind of split level arrangement) and when we were cleaning up it was discovered that the floor of the church was covered with hundreds of Hula Hoops. Small hands had been at work all afternoon, collecting fistfuls, casually wandering up to the stairs and then throwing them like confetti down into the church itself. The following conversation took place, with me crouching down to maintain eye-contact in a stern manner, but secretly amused:
P: "Amelie, have you been throwing Hula Hoops into the church?"
A (high on sugar, and waving a sticky hand over the expanse of littered snacks): "Yes, Daddy. Look. Lots."
P: "Yes, I can see. But why?"
A: (Looking at me like I'm stupid): "Because it's a party..."

...and there you have it. She has a point, I suppose. It was a party, and if you can't befoul a religious meeting place with reconstitued potato snacks at your sisters Christening, then when can you do it?