Sunday, January 02, 2005


I attended CW and KR's wedding on Thursday. The service was held in the gracious stained-glass-stuffed church of St. Alban's, where a string trio serenaded the congregation with works by Handel and Hayden. The absence of Pachelbel's Bloody Canon from their repertoire meant that I didn't have to set fire to the church and kill everyone concerned (as I have sworn to do if I hear Pachelbel's Bloody Canon at one more wedding). So that was a plus.

A bullet-pointed summation of the ceremony:
  • bride = lovely. No 'meringue'-style dress, demonstrating good taste.
  • groom = handsome. No flubbed lines, fainting spells or projectile vomiting.
  • tacky wedding kitsch = none. No horse-drawn carriages, no ridiculous train, no glurge-ridden self-composed vows. And there was much rejoicing.
  • minister = dignified.
  • sermon = moving.
  • inappropriate congregational clothing = low. I'm convinced that some people think that 'formalwear' means jeans without any holes in them, but fortunately they were in the minority.
  • Blandwagon Overall Approval Rating = High
The reception lunch was at Matilda Bay, where a leaking airconditioner gave us an impromptu water feature in the middle of the restaurant. When the waitresses turned it off, it converted from a dibbling trickle into a waterfall, so we left it on. The gentle drip of water into half a dozen silver champagne buckets was actually rather musical and soothing, especially after a few glasses of their decent chenin blanc.

As Master of Ceremonies it was my job to liaise with the restaurant staff and make a decision on whether it was more offensive to have water dripping into champagne buckets or a repairman on a ladder trying to fix it, no doubt exposing copious butt cleavage to the bridal party. I went with the dripping water, and I stand by my decision.

I'd arrived early to coordinate things, and when I had a chance I chatted with the guests as they arrived. Despite it being a happy day, conversations inevitably turned to the tsunami of a few days earlier. I was very disturbed when one man, apparently bright enough to hold down a high-level job with an international company, said something about having to wonder if it wasn't our fault. I asked him to elucidate, making a conscious effort not to let my jaw actually go slack with astonishment.

He said that he wouldn't be surprised if, with all the oil that we're sucking out of the ground, it doesn't destabilise the tectonic plates and cause earthquakes.

It being a happy day, and me being in a position of responsibility, I couldn't slap him upside the head and and demand to know what drugs he was on. Also he was bigger than me. I was restricted to gently suggesting that the amount of oil extracted from the earth is infinitesimal compared to the size of the planet's overall crust. Then I needed to change the subject and talk about cows.

It still makes me angry. Finally, we have a disaster that is palpably, totally, 100% not the result of human activity. It's not the war in Iraq, it's not a terrorist attack, it's not a hole in the ozone layer caused by CFCs, or a wave of cancer caused by pollution, or a hurricane that people can, if they are so inclined, blame on global warming. It had nothing to do with war, pollution, ideology or greed. It was just an unforeseeable natural disaster; probably the last type of natural disaster (other than maybe an asteroid strike) that we can't shoulder even a smidgeon of blame for, no matter how hard we twist the circumstances.

And yet people like him try. Somehow it has to be our fault. Because if it isn't our fault, then that means we aren't really in control. Nothing makes a Humanist crankier than having the illusion of control momentarily lifted. After all, if your only god is yourself, and you're proven not to be in control, where does that leave you?


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