Revolving Many Memories


Returned from Geneva, after the marriage of my son, I sit
here like Sir Bedevere, ‘revolving many memories.’

I haven’t written any diary since the beginning of April –
possibly the longest gap of my life, but as one by one the fragments of recall
slot in to their place in the endless vaults of memory, I walk the long
corridors of my inner house and find my writing room as inviting as ever, so I
step in and close the door, and here I sit once more.

This has been a difficult and event filled year and although
cautious about declaring that we have survived the ordeals (who knows what
tomorrow will bring) I do feel achievement, gratitude and a sense of relaxation
to be returning to ‘normal’ now at home.

In attending Rory’s wedding, I returned to Switzerland after
an absence of over 40 years, and found it largely unchanged, and my opinion of
it the same as well.    In its topography
of course it is a lovely country, and it was delightful to relax in Sarah’s
parents comfortable  apartment in
Chamix-Lac and watch the lake, forest and mountains fade in and out of view in
the mist.   Those of you who are Scots
will realise when I say I am a woman who panics on the old road to Aplecross,
that I felt by the time we had ascended to the alpine village that we had
probably reached the lower echelons of heaven!
Here too we were able to have some private time with Elisabeth and Rob.

There was the pleasure later of meeting up with guests, some
well known to us and others just newly met, who had come to share in our
rejoicing and grace our happy event with their presence.    Our hotel in Route d’Aerodrome had pesky
little flies, and pesky little aeroplanes too who would fling themselves in a
foolhardy manner down the short runway and then with much flapping of wings and
pedalling by passengers just succeed in clearing the roof of our building before
stuttering off into the darkness to come bumbling back a few hours later.   But it was also where we had a wonderful
meal with Elisabeth and Rob, with superb food.
(Tomatoes in chocolate:

The little church at Gingins was lovely; an unusual shape
but pleasingly plain though with lovely stained glass windows, some modern and
some older.    It was known for some
reason as The Temple of Gingins, and it amused me to think of my son being
married at some pagan temple (I swear by Apollo…) – he is a lawless Armstrong
after all!    When I first saw him
walking up the road towards the church, his kilt swinging with his step, and
accompanied by Matt, his Best Man,  Rory
looked so archetypally Scottish and handsome (forgive me: I am his mother, god
help him, so must be excused) with all his essential qualities fleetingly
visible in his concealed nervousness, that I felt like weeping at the sight of
him. But I could not because he would have failed to understand why I was
weeping on what was undoubtedly a day of joy and happiness.

John, still a comfort in a weary land for me, and I went
in to the church early, and felt it filling up behind us.   Then we saw Alexandra leading her little
sisters down the steps, all of whom looked as if they understood that this was an
important occasion and they were privileged to take part.    Sarah, the bride, princess of the day in
the settings she had chosen, looked happy and glowing as a bride should in her
beautiful dress.    My own lovely
daughters, gracious and courageous women both, who had so generously supported
John and me, beamed across the church their encouragement.   Elisabeth had delivered a fine version of a
sonnet at the civil ceremony, and Joanna read out an Irish blessing – a superb
piece of writing – and was so moved by the occasion that her  delivery faltered a little, but it made the
words all the more moving.    I noted how
well Sarah’s parents looked, and how thoughtful and pleased Richard seemed as
he watched his daughter become a wife.
Martha, Sarah’s sister, was very pretty, and her brother Tom had a
handsome and vigorous face.   The female
cleric who presided over the religious part of the celebration had good looks
and presence, and the nottaire, also a lady, brought warmth and an air of
celebration to the legal (civil) section.
The friends of the family received us with real kindness, and it was
good to see our own family and friends gathered in this unfamiliar place to
share a memorable event.     And don’t
men look handsome when they dress in their suits?    All the ladies looked lovely in their
finery and it was especially nice to share the event with my sister in law,
Susan, and my friends, Anne and Carolyn.

We were lucky in many things, but especially in the
weather.    There was no day without some
rain, but the sun came out obligingly whenever we needed it.    It was also
‘lucky’ that guests, having arrived early for the religious service on
Saturday were just wandering past on an exploratory walk by the lakeside as we
gathered there for the civic.   In celtic
society where great emphasis was placed on the stringent laws of hospitality, a
place was kept for the unexpected guest, so this charming young couple were
briskly swept up by the rest of us and gathered in, their protests about lack
of suitable clothes completely ignored.  They
were the kind of people who would look good in an old sack anyway!  The ‘grand old lady’ of the occasion was
Katherine’s Aunt, and she seemed to enjoy the event in her unassuming way.

Sophie, Sarah’s colleague and the translator for the
‘civic’ turned out to be one of those people you’d pick to stand beside you in
the heat of the battle because of her watchful competence, her cheerful
reliability and her unselfishness.   And
Matt, Rory’s friend of long standing and Best Man, proved indeed to be a good
man and true.    Throughout the day he
had been largely a withdrawn, silent figure.
Yet he stood up at the end and delivered what I thought was a
magnificent speech, one in which I recognised someone who knew our complex and
elusive son exceedingly well, and who, I saw, was a match for Rory in intelligence,
insight and thinking power.    He had
experienced difficulties in getting to the wedding and had been obliged to come
without his wife which we regretted.   He
delivered his amusing speech with grace and generosity, tact and
thoughtfulness.   He knew our man, and he
spoke well of him, and for his truth and courtesy he can count us among his
friends forever.

After that we could all relax.   There was a lovely reception on the terrace
of a vineyard with a stunning view of the lake.   We could see the Jet d’Eau at Geneva and there
was that kind of evening light that illuminates every crevice of the
mountains.   We moved into a marquee for
the meal, which was delicious.
Katherine and I took our hats off together and flung them in a corner.

There were some irritating and amusing incidents.   Various people had run foul of Swiss
bureaucracy (though none to serious effect.)
There were annoying flies who seemed to lurk outside your room (however
many you killed) and rush in whenever the door opened.     Things were so expensive you would see men
bracing themselves as they glanced at the bill.    All the branches of our family (except
possibly – I don’t know – the bride and groom) had rip-roaring rows of the
I’ll-just-go-home-by-myself type, which statement fortunately the wretched man
who has caused the lady this distress has the wit and kindness to ignore, and
therefore shortly after to be restored to his accustomed role as hero.   Taxis seemed to be the cause of some grief
(quite apart from the extraordinary cost.)
One man had to be decidedly firm in explaining that this was NOT his
hotel, and no, his wife in her wedding finery could not be expected to leg it
across the vineyards;  another couple
discovered that though they had been delivered – at vast expense – to their
correct hotel, neither of them had a key;
the main building could not be opened, and they had to walk in darkness
to the bride’s parents’ home and sneak in un-noticed to the sofa;  and another unfortunate fellow had to offer
an eyewateringly expensive tip on top of the excruciating bill because his companion
had been unwell.   (I won’t name names –
you know who you are!)

We sent down a party to assist Joanna and Lawrence to put
up their tent on arrival, so John supervising because he had erected it
previously; Rob and Rory assisting;
Lawrence nominally in charge because it was his tent and he needed to
learn how to do it, but too exhausted to function unaided;   three crying children;  a frazzled Joanna, plus Elisabeth and
me.    We girls took the children on a
little tour of the campsite and the four men had the tent up in no time. But
the looks of dismay of the orderly elderly Swiss caravanners  around us at our sudden invasion of the
field, with car doors slamming, orders being shouted, children crying, general
chaos and disorder, was quite amusing.
It was great fun being all together with our children and their
partners, in each of whom, we do rejoice.

Finally, a most delightful party at Grande-Fontaine where
Richard and Katherine have their main home.
Her garden is one of those where great skill and effort has been
expended to create a garden that just looks like it was always growing there
naturally.    Food and hospitality here
and the tact and kindness of their friends were equally wonderful.   In addition we discovered a new and
unexplored part of France, unspoilt and utterly charming which we hope to
explore (should the pound ever recover) at our leisure.   Lons-le-Saunier was one of those French
towns for the French, with an elegant square and delightful streets leading off
it, and a colonnaded avenue of nice shops (all closed: our men are not
stupid.)   We stayed in a farmhouse with
huge, simple rooms, where the children could wander among hens and farm
animals, and where you sat down to dinner each night with no menu but just
received what had been picked from the garden.

And, lastly, our lovely young couple, happy to be setting
out together on their journey through life.
They had a good send off from their family and friends.   May they make good all their promises, and
may the god by whom they swore their oaths guard and walk with them, always.


About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.

5 Responses to Revolving Many Memories

  1. maggie says:

    Beautiful described Anne, I feel I was with you on this wonderful happy family occasion, x M

    • adhocannie says:

      Thanks, Maggie – although if you’d joined us when the spectacular rows were taking place, you might have wondered! But it was a lovely occasion. Anne

  2. Carolyn Hulatt says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely and what a privaledge and delight to have been a part of it all.

    Carolyn x

  3. Sheena Murphy says:

    Am I very naughty for connecting Rory’s swinging kilt with his “essential qualities fleetingly
    visible?” Sheena

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