A few weeks ago, Loren asked if I would make a speech at her wedding. I said I would only do it if I were allowed to have a little fun at her expense. Josh then said he wouldn’t have it any other way…. So here goes.
It’s fair to say that over the years, Angela and Martin have taken responsibility for many of the important decisions in Loren’s life: education, her love of horses, career choices and more recently the house that she lives in with Josh and the kids. As “Dad #2”, I’ve been able to enjoy many of the fun moments in bringing up a child with plenty of character. Josh, you are about to find out some things about your new wife, and yes, it is too late to change your mind.
I used to update a diary when Craig, Loren and Bethany were children so that I’d have something to look back on in my old age. I’m now in my old age, and it’s been great fun this last week reading through some of those entries. Out of the hundreds of references to Loren, I have picked out a handful of short stories to give you an insight into the background of this lovely young woman.
There’s a statue in Denholme Park of a man in military uniform with his head bowed, holding a rifle. Loren asked if he got upset when they put cement over him.
Loren was eating a sweet at school, and her teacher caught her, she told her it was a cough sweet – it wasn’t!
Loren sat on my knee while we watched TV; she patted my stomach and asked if I am going to have a baby.
When packing the grass into bags, I found a caterpillar that Loren adopted. She called it “Emma” and took it to school in a small mustard jar with a bit of grass inside. It died.
At a kids party, Loren beat Craig to a pulp with someone’s handbag.
While at the airport queueing to check in, Loren loudly asked: “Has that man got a bomb in his suitcase?”
Loren had loads of M & S chicken tikka bites (heavy on the garlic) then sneakily made every effort to breathe all over her Grandad from behind his back.
Loren has a new motto, “If at first you don’t succeed, give up!”
For the last two months, Loren has been calling me “Stewie Old Boy.”
I cooked Loren an omelette for her dinner, and she was told that she must finish it if she wanted any sweets afterwards. She took it on a tray into the conservatory, and we watched her from inside the kitchen where she couldn’t see us and found her feeding it to our dog, Curly.
Loren was making a noise in her sleep at about 11pm, so Angela went up to her to find her “sleep-driving”.
Loren and I went to the Nawaab to pick up a takeaway curry. When we got back to the car, Loren insisted on holding the brown paper bag on her knee so that it didn’t fall over on the way home. I told her that the curry smell would be on her legs for a whole week. She said that the smell would be in my mouth for a whole week as well. The bag had leaked dupiaza sauce onto her dress; Angela was not-best pleased.
Linda came over one Saturday night for some wine and curry with Angela, did I mention the wine? She stayed overnight and slept in Loren’s bedroom. She had a pounding headache on Sunday morning, but that may have been more down to Craig and Loren slamming every door in the house on a constant basis. It turned out that Loren had done it deliberately so that Linda would wake up and get up and then she could enter her bedroom for her roller blades.
Loren has an awful cold sore between her nose and her top lip. One boy at her school tried to poke fun at her, but she replied, “Just you wait until your hormones start taking action and you get big boils on your face, let’s see who’ll be laughing then”. The boy apologised.
Loren had to see her headmistress Mrs Bleasdale today after being grassed up by a boy who she pushed into a wall. Mrs Bleasdale told her to “act like a young lady” in future.
Loren came first in the school sports day 1500m race………. then took the following day off sick!
Loren had some ‘New Look’ vouchers to spend. Just before we set off to Halifax, Angela asked her, “How much have you got?” to which Loren replied, “All of them”!
Let me tell you about Loren’s bedroom. As a young teenager – and probably beyond – she had little inclination in keeping it tidy. In fact, you couldn’t tell what colour the carpet was because of the stains and all the rubbish thrown in all parts. Angela and I thought she was old enough to take responsibility and “if she wants to live in a pigsty, she can live in a pigsty”. I did find out a few years later that it wasn’t that bad, it was a sterile surgical theatre in comparison to her sister Bethany’s. If Loren was the Princess of untidy bedrooms, Bethany was undoubtedly the Queen. But I digress…
I took some photos of her bedroom to show her how bad it looked. I focused in on what looked like the remains of a snake which had shed its skin; it turned out to be a months-old rotting piece of pineapple peel. Things came to a head. She was told to get it sorted out and, to be fair, she rolled her sleeves up and got stuck in. I offered to help by taking out an overflowing paper bin. I walked down the stairs and noticed she had thrown away the pages of a diary she used to keep as a young child. She doesn’t know it, but I kept those pieces of paper and stored them away for a rainy day. It’s not raining today, but here they are for your amusement.
Look at them, look how cute they are, what a sweet thing that she used to keep a diary. They’ve even got love hearts and Sylvester and Tweety Pie on there. Let’s have a little read of some of the entries.
“My boyfriend’s name is David. I met him at my brother’s football party. We played tig, and I never went for anybody else but him. I had a great time, I don’t think David did.”
“My worst thing on telly that I could watch is football. My brother loves it. I think he would marry it if he was allowed. He never stops thinking about football. I hate it.” <To be fair, she’s got a point!>
“I was supposed to be tidying my room. Stewart was in a bad mood, and we didn’t do anything wrong. I said ‘I haven’t done anything’ and he said “EXACTLY!” So I went into the living room and sat down and watched TV.”
“I hate Scott and Daniel. I hate Scott because he annoys you and he’s really geeky. He throws stones across the table. If he keeps doing it, I will kick his head in”
“I hate James and Philip at my school. I feel like I want to hit them on the head with a hammer.”
I think we ought to stop there before Josh tries to make his escape.
I feel like I’m running out of time, but if anyone would like to hear the World War II gas mask story or even the one about the Twin Towers that I’ve bottled telling you, please come and see me afterwards.
Josh, good luck mate! Seriously, I started this speech inferring that I’d give you a scary insight into the woman of your dreams. In truth, all these little stories have contributed to making her the strong, fantastic wife and mother she is today; we are all immensely proud of her, and I know you are too. The best advice I can give you is to write down all that fun stuff that your kids get up to because one day Josh, you will be making this speech at Beau’s wedding.
I’m certainly not going to bring this celebration down in any way, but I’d like to reiterate what Martin said about Loren’s grandma Alicia who of course is no longer with us. There was an extraordinary bond between them, and I know for a fact that she would have been so excited today and proud of how Loren turned out. I also can’t forget about everybody’s favourite Uncle – Uncle George – and Lyn (David’s wife and John’s Mum) who both loved Loren very much but sadly passed away over the last couple of years. They would have both been in their elements today.
So, because there are two dads making speeches, you get to have an extra toast. To our wonderful daughter, her fine young husband and let’s not forget the grandkids. You are a fantastic family.
And finally, here is the twin towers story which I bottled out of telling….
“Loren has always been a compassionate girl. I remember that terrible day when the twin towers were brought crashing down. Loren was utterly devastated and upset for days afterwards. Oh, it wasn’t for the tragic loss of life but more because it took all the attention away from her 10th birthday.”