|Ordinarily I do not volunteer to stand up and make speeches in front of a room full of people but tonight I already look like a disco ball so I thought sod it. I need to stand up to declare my love for this woman. Who does things differently. And let’s bridesmaids get up and make speeches. Not just the best man.
I know you’re not mad keen on vows to God, Ariane, but I will love you from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health – until death parts us. And I know that you are all here because you feel something like that for Ariane, who puts her heart and soul into absolutely everything, including today.
I feel I have a special bond with Ariane, however, because she and I share a certain temperament. I mean, of course, that we are both batshit crazy. She has traipsed for miles across London again and again because I was not well enough to leave my flat. With us, when things go badly, they go very very badly. And when things go well, we tend to be terrified. Life with Ariane can be like watching a high speed car chase – where you can’t see why on earth she is going so damn fast because no one actually appears to be chasing her. I often think it a mercy that Ariane can’t drive because if she did she’d go from 0 to 60 in a 20mph zone, and she’d like how the road bumps sent her flying into the air.
The speed at which Ariane does things has often left me bewildered. And a bit scared. And we did in fact fall out a few years ago over that. We had planned to spend Christmas together because I really rather desperately did not want to go home and she was without Lily… And then at the last moment she invited some chap I’d never met with the words, ‘You’ll hit it off – you’re of a similar height.’ And at the time I threw a fit and went home because I was not able to cope with strangers, and especially not men. And while I used to tell that story as an example of how Ariane moved too fast and was wrong it turns out she was absolutely right. Because the man she wanted me to spend Christmas with is now my Super Friend. And the all time most awesome person ever. So I just missed out on knowing him for three years.
Ariane does not believe in doing anything because it might be – heaven forfend – sensible. No. Whatever she wants to do. She goes for it. She will do anything from sniffing armpits (which is how we reconciled), to very publicly shagging Jeremy Corbyn, to eloping to Las Vegas. And I sit and I worry about her – quite possibly more than she worries for herself…
I do not know how Ariane ended up being the absolutely wonderful person she is today. A lot of why I think we get on so well is because we’ve had a lot of absolutely rotten stuff happen in our lives – but Ariane’s makes my life look like an absolute picnic.
I do not know how she ended up such an angel. Still that is what she is.
But enough about Ariane. We are all assembled here today thanks to one man. And I think we should pause for a moment to remember him…
Frank was a German and he wore – I’m told, thanks to Ariane’s devotion to oversharing – a pair of very tight red budgie smugglers. On their second date, he arrived at her house with a bag full of tools and attempted to service her… boiler and spent – again I was told – roughly four hours failing to do so. He then announced that he was moving to Colchester and that he would buy her a railcard so she could visit him. When Ariane discovered a seasonal rail card to Colchester cost upwards of £5000 she told him this was much too much at which point he revealed that the railcard he had in mind cost £30 a year and entitled her to a third off all rail travel.
And so Auf Weidersehen Frank.
Then the real hero of our tale stepped in… Our Graham became so inflamed with jealousy at this tight, ineffective kraut … Knowing that he, Graham, was a far better man… Who knew exactly what to do with Ariane’s boiler… Well, to cut a short story even shorter… Almost three months on here we are.
Lots of people might think that going through a bad bout of Guardian Soulmates to married within 90 days is utterly and completely insane. But they do not know Graham – who is as cautious and careful as Ariane is faster than Ayrton Senna. He has been her one constant. The person who has always been there for her whenever anyone else let her down. Who she speaks to every day. And who has – along with her beautiful daughter Lily and her good friend John – helped to make up an unorthodox but very loving family that Ariane has chosen for herself.
I have only met Graham twice – but I thought I had him pegged from the first… It was half a decade ago at Ariane’s 31st birthday party (when Lily was a very, very tiny baby) and that evening I felt very sorry for him because to me it was completely obvious to me that he was very much in love with the woman who was then only his best friend. Most men, you know, are not in the habit of compiling a game of 31 quiz questions – as he did that night – without serious romantic feeling. And that evening I felt desperately sorry for him. But today, never mind the scratchcards, he’s hit the jackpot…
Thank you Graham for always being there for our dearest friend Ariane. There is no stronger foundation for a marriage – I’m sure – than a deep and abiding best-friendship of more than twenty years. And today we celebrate both of you and your love. May it now endure – for the next 50…