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Thursday, 16 November 2006
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Father of the Bride Speech by George
at Holly & Keith's Wedding
Good evening everyone, for those of you that don't know me, my name is George and I'm Holly's dad. I am delighted to be here to celebrate the marriage of Holly and Keith. Some of you have crossed continents and national boundaries to be here. The result: a great gathering in this marvelous city of Dublin where I last came as a raw youth almost fifty years to be introduced to your pubs and proud history.

Now I should let you into a secret. Plans were afoot at one stage in the organization of the wedding for Derek to do the cooking and for me to conduct the marriage ceremony. I am sure that we are both relieved that this did not happen. Nic did a marvelous job with the marriage ceremony and the food has been great. Valerie and Derek have been great hosts.

This is a point in time when every daughter fears …….. what is dad going to talk about…. Is he going to tell about the time when …… Holly should consider herself lucky that she was not living about a thousand years ago in India, when the day and time of marriage was strictly controlled by the stars. There is the story of the daughter of a famous mathematician, Bhaskaracharya, who on her marriage day, dressed in her finery, peered over a water clock and a pearl from her hair fell in blocking the hole stopping the flow of water. The happy hour for the marriage ceremony passed without anyone noticing it. Bhaskaracharya believed that the only way to console his dejected daughter was to write her book introducing the joys of mathematics and this became one of the most famous Indian texts in mathematics.

I have in front of me a report of Holly's aged 9½ from her junior school. During some periods of her early teens, I used to refer to it often and be reassured. Some excerpts: "Holly is a most able child in all aspects of the curriculum. She is keen to do well and is very hardworking. Her reading age is 12+ and has performed particularly well in the Burt word recognition test. In mathematics her knowledge of concepts and problem-solving is of a very high standard." Word recognition, eye-movement, is this a portend for the future, especially her Ph.D work?

More seriously, the radiant bride (I wonder where she gets her looks from!) over the years has become more a friend and a frank critic. This easy transition from a child to a friend is what many parents hope for and with Holly we are on the way. And this is where Keith comes in. When I first met him at Holly's he was introduced to me as a flat mate. It was soon clear that there was more to their relationship than that. And over the last few years, my wife Leela and I have got to know them better. They seem so good together - sharing similar values and similar interests. They are not wired into the consumerist and celebrity culture. Retail therapy seems to have little attraction for them. They have arranged their busy lives so as to give Zinzi sufficient love and parental attention.

I have told that it is the duty of the father of the bride to give some timely advice on what constitutes a good marriage. I take up this duty with some trepidation for obvious reasons. I have looked up what the great and good have said about the institution. Here is a sample, heavily biased towards the cynics and the misogynists:

o Mae West: Marriage is a great institution, but I am not ready for an institution.

o A happy marriage is a matter of give and take; the husband gives and the wife takes

o Oscar Wilde: Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. Second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience

Now something more constructive and hopeful:

o Mahatma Gandhi: I first learned the concepts of non-violence in my marriage

o Aristotle: Marriage is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies

o Ogden Nash's Counsel for Eternal Marital Bliss:

To keep your marriage brimming With Love in the loving cup, Whenever you're wrong, admit it; Whenever you're right, shut up.

o Talking about the cup, I come to my final duty (I can hear you all say thank God), which is to propose the toast to Holly and Keith. Please be upstanding. Let us drink a toast to the most important people of the day: the Bride and the Groom.  

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