June 21, 2007

We’d hired a car and were driving down to Kent when Steven (who’s Australian) spotted a sign for a ‘Gyratory’ and burst into laughter. “You people have some funny words,” he commented.

Well, I’d never really thought about it before, it always seemed like a slightly imposing word for a slightly imposing junction, but when you stop and have a closer squint it is a little silly. I guess it’s so called because the road sort of gyrates its way around in a circle.

We drove down to the Weald (now there’s a good old Anglo-Saxon word) of Kent and walked around a magical wood dotted with whimsical sculptures.

Later, we drove on to Bedgebury Pinetum (the day was fast turning into a tour of odd words) to hear Travis spin their web of perfectly formed pop.

I even got a little gyratory myself.


Brothers and Sisters

June 17, 2007

Last weekend, we popped over to the South Bank for the relaunch of the Royal Festival Hall. The place was buzzing with a peculiarly British sense of excitement brought on by that rarest of combinations – free entertainment and good weather. The chorizo sizzled on the barbeque, the kids screamed in the water scuplture and Billy Bragg presided over it all in an avuncular fashion. There aren’t many people in this day and age who can get away with addressing a crowd as ‘Brothers and Sisters’, but our Billy is the exception. As the Thames flowed past on his left and the London Eye continued its slow orbit behind his head, an extra twinkle in his eye seemed to add a footnote: that despite the continued oppression of the proletariat, this was still a mighty fine day.

Civil partnership

June 5, 2007

Steven and I are planning our civil partnership. It’s a relatively new phrase in the language, so much so, in fact, that a lot of the concepts around it have yet to solidify into actual words, like dust-clouds forming planets round a new sun.

How, for instance, will I refer to my beloved afterwards? My husband? My partner? I doubt I’ll be using the language of the legislation and introducing him as my ‘civil partner’. Bit of a mouthful.

And what about the verb for taking part in the ceremony? So far, I’ve been mainly steering clear of ‘marry’ and opting instead for substitutes such as ‘tie the knot’ or ‘get hitched’. (The official term is the extremely catchy ‘register a civil partnership’.)

But while I (like the legislators) seem to be avoiding the language of marriage, I (like the legislators) am deadly serious about the meaning. Under British law, a civil union has the same legal status as marriage – and I want a ceremony that reflects that.

I want it to be just like any other wedding. I want speeches and photos, I want cold champagne and lukewarm chicken, I want bored uncles and drunken dancing, so that everyone understands that when we say “I do”, the words mean just as much as when anyone else says them.