The Wedding

The reason my wedding was arranged was not a conventional one.  My boyfriend had just been released from serving eight weeks of a six-month jail term (long story, another time) and with his Get Out Of Jail Free card release grant we bought a new engagement ring for me as I had originally bought my own.  We then visited the local Register Office to publish our banns and booked the wedding for three months later - 1st August 1992.

Next, we stood in a phone box and we rang our parents.

Neither set of parents were over the moon about the arrangements.  One set (mine) said that they already had their annual holiday booked and they would be away for the date we'd picked.  Strong-willed as ever, I stubbornly announced that I would rearrange the date, slammed the phone down and stomped all the way home.

Another trip back to the Register Office the next day allowed us to rearrange the date.  We were now getting married on 11th July 1992.  We phoned the parents again with the new date and they resigned themselves to the fact that this was actually going ahead - in eight weeks time.

It never occurred to me to ask my parents to help pay for the wedding.  I had already left home, had a bit of a fractured relationship with my family, I had a child and I was fully capable of supporting myself.   Our plans were to buy suitable outfits, go and get married hoping that a few people would be there to support us and retire to a pub for drinks or something later.  All done on the cheap with minimal fuss.

I took a trip to the local wedding shop to enquire about hiring a dress but was a bit shocked at prices - the rental price was half the cost price.  Way beyond my budget.  I had to come clean and explain our situation.  We had very limited cash allocated to the event and had to see if I could pay for the cost of a dress in installments, even though the wedding was only eight weeks away.

I was directed to the back of the shop and shown a rail of dresses.  I was told that these dresses were "last season" and had either been hired out or used for promotional purposes.  I flicked through the rail and picked a couple of dresses up.  When I tried them on there was always something negative about them; the wrong shape across the shoulders, too low cut, too much of a meringue.  I gave them all back and resigned myself to picking something up from a suit-type-affair from a high street store nearer the big day.  

I glanced back towards the rail and took one more casual look through the dresses.  And there it was... my dream dress from my childhood - the fairytale dress that I had always imagined.  Full length, no fuss or frills, a subtle amount of detail, fitted bodice, small bussle, full length, straight skirt, no hoops and a short train.   I had to try it on.  To my amazement, it fitted!  Like a glove.  It was a little bit tight around the bodice but I was assured that it could be taken out and adjustments made - all in time for the big day, two months away.  And the best bit?  It was priced at £49.  Yes, you read that right - forty nine pounds!  I made arrangements to have the dress altered slightly and to pay it off weekly.

(you may have read a bit about my wedding dress on my blog before)

A couple of weeks later both sets of parents had a chat with us.  Mine offered to pay for a small reception at a restaurant local to them - immediate family only (running to about twenty people).  They would arrange photographs too - a family friend with a decent camera and tripod - then order some different sizes for the album.  Kev's parents offered to pay for our wedding rings.  Plain gold bands, beveled edges, matching.

I went out the next week and bought a beautiful dress from Woolworths for Rachel (she was my unoffical bridesmaid), some bits and pieces from the market to make my bouquet and a headdress for Rachel.  I was still very aware of our non-existent budget but needed to make the best of what we could afford.

Then my whole world imploded.  

We found out that Rachel had cancer and all thoughts of the wedding went right out of our heads.  In fact, it was only after her definitive diagnosis that I remembered we were getting married just a few days later.  And I say this without remorse, malice or bitterness - I didn't really care about the wedding any more but I still wanted it to happen.  My stubbornness had to see through the "now or never" part of it all.  

We were due to get married on the Saturday and I had to pick up my dress on the Tuesday before.  Rachel was at the hospital and I had to sort out a few things at home so I escaped for the day.  I took Mum with me to show her the dress and she fell in love with it for all the reasons I had.  I now knew it was perfect. She also convinced me to allow her to buy me a headdress to match the flowers in my bouquet - but I didn't want a veil, that I was adamant about.  I paid the final payment on my dress.  

The day before the wedding was a blur of activity.  We went to pick up a hire suit for Kev, drove to Manchester to pick Rachel up from the hospital (we were allowed to bring her home for one night but she had to return on the Saturday afternoon to prepare for an operation on the Sunday), drove back from Manchester and just generally made sure everything was ready.  We were at our own house and we were leaving for the Registry Office from there together in the morning.  I was getting myself ready and doing my own make-up.  At about 7pm my Dad turned up at our house, hovered in the front door, gave me an envelope and said, "I don't know what is in there.  Your mum asked me to give it to you.  She also said to remind you that she has sorted the taxi out for the morning.  Just watch out for it at about 9am.  See you tomorrow, love." And he was gone.

I opened the envelope and inside was five £10 notes and a letter explaining that it was the money for my dress.  There was also a few more personal lines and I regret to this day that I didn't keep that letter.  I have no idea what happened to it.

The morning consisted of me bustling about in a daze.  I put on my make-up whilst sat on my bathroom floor with the mirror propped up against the bath.  I then dressed Rachel, put Kev in charge of making sure she wasn't chemo-sick down her dress and went to get my own dress on.  As I was coming down the stairs, there was a knock at the door.  There, suited and booted, was my uncle with his company car (a white Jaguar) all kitted out and trimmed up, ready to drive us to the Registry Office.  I know it sounds a bit daft now but it was a little touch that meant a lot to me.  Travelling in style rather than in the back of a taxi.

At the registry office a few family and friends were milling round and we nipped into a side office to take care of the official form filling.  When we came out, more and more family and friends turned up and we managed to cram about fifty people into a room that normally seats thirty.  I looked around for Lou, my closest friend at the time, but she wasn't there.  She also had a young daughter and I knew that she probably had something feasible keeping her away.  

Vows done, more photos and the conveyor belt that is the Registry Office hustled us on outside so that the next wedding could take place.  We posed for a few more pictures so that those not joining us for the meal could snap a memory of the day.  A car screeched up across the road and a voice called out of the half-open window, "NIC---KIEEEEEEEEEEE..."  I glanced up, saw who it was, picked up the bottom of my dress and legged it across the road.  It was Lou, hanging out of the window, talking nineteen to the dozen, "Nickie, you look gorgeous.  I can't get out of the car, I'm in my nightshirt!  I overslept but I couldn't miss seeing you in your dress."  I laughed so hard and then looked around.  All our guests were staring at me, wondering what the hell was going on.  

This picture says more than I ever can in words
We moved on to my parents house for more photographs and then onto the restaurant.  We ate, we had speeches and all toasts were directed to my very brave daughter.  Our cake had been made by three of mums friends; one baked it, one iced it and another decorated it.  We just had time to cut it before we jumped into Dad's car and drove to Manchester, still fully togged up, to take Rachel back to the hospital.  Our honeymoon was spent in a little B&B a few miles across Manchester and we returned to the hospital at 8am to escort Rachel into the operating theatre.

It feels like a day that never happened but I know it did.  It wasn't my dream wedding with hundreds of friends and family but it was the start of the next stage of our live together.  We managed a week away together, alone, in March 2009 - a mere 17 years later.  Even by our standards, it's a long time to wait for a honeymoon.

[Updated on 11th July 2012]   

So what now?

Well, twenty years down the line we are still together and (mostly) happily married even though not one person thought it would last (two fingers up to that lot - 22 years and counting *thumbs nose*).  As this blog shows, it hasn't always been a smooth ride but we both believe that you take the rough with the smooth and what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.  Neither of us give up easily either.  I want to renew our vows at 25 years, or at least have a big party, but Kev isn't really one for public shows of affection.  I have a full-on plan with entrance music and a "first dance" sorted out, seeing as though we never got chance back in 1992.

(Not Such A) Dedicated Follower of Fashion

It's not often that I post pictures of myself on here but you have to remember that I'm a child of the 70s and 80s and my whole fashion sense and style is hampered by that fact.  I can't really blame my mum for my early years.  I was probably kinda trendy at the time, even if I did look like a boy at certain intervals.

1970s fashion
early, mid and late 1970s

My entry into high school opened my eyes wide.  Suddenly music and fashion choices were tantamount to survival.  In the 80's you couldn't really get it wrong - loud and proud was the call of the day.  These two photographs encapsulate everything I thought was "fashion" in the 80s.  I was a bit under the radar if I think back.

1980s fashion
l: charity 3-legged race
r: somewhere in France

Anyway, none of these can top the photo I found in the depths of the photo pile.  I'm sure there are much worse than this but all my photos are at my sister's house.  I got custody of the albums when mum died and it's her turn to look after them this year.  I really need to get hold of them again and have a mass scanning-in session.  

So, behold, the best worst picture I could find...  and, no, I have no idea what is going on with my fringe but I think it adds to the ambiance of it all.

Failed the audition for Human League



Last night the realisation hit me that my babies are not babies any more.  It full on smacked me in the face, not once, but twice.

The Fridge of a Bad Parent

All these pictures of beautiful bulging fridges full of food and interesting jars and containers are annoying me.

The Gallery : My Blog

I was stumped this week when I read the prompt.  My Blog.  I had already encapuslated "my blog" when I had taken pictures for the Gallery prompt "Self Portrait" back in May last year.  Then I saw something on Twitter and had a bit of a brainwave.

Welcome to the back of my blog.  The inner workings.  Sort of...

Glorified Prostitution

Time for a mini-rant.

I can't seem to read a British newspaper without being faced with stories about glorified prostitutes shagging very famous married blokes.  In turn, these very famous blokes then get a bit scared about their fame and fortune being threatened so slap a gagging order on the prostitute to stop her selling her story.  Said prostitute manages to employ the services of one very renown PR consultant who encourages the sale of "teasers" to the papers.

My Husband's Old Man Road Rage

"I'm going to pick up some bits to make the aerials, Nic.  You coming?"
I go, just for the change in scenery and the fact that I am not going to be driving for a change.  There is one small problem though.  Kev owns a transit van and I hate sitting in the front of it for two reasons.  The first is that I think we look like we have escaped from the local gypsy camp and the second is to do with Kev's Meldrew-esque driving.  Occasionally he forgets he is in a van and get a bit boy-racer and other times he believes he is the best driver In The World.

The Gallery : Tomorrow

Today will soon be tomorrow
Tomorrow will then be today
Today will become yesterday
And we can start all over again
© N. O'Hara (April 2011)

I do love a good sunset...


Oh Mrs Lister,  where have you been all my (blogging) life?  I have found you and your wonderful Q&A post via the lovely NotSupermum.  I so wanted this to be a real Q&A for the Guardian - I even thought about interviewing myself on tape and then typing it up, but that really is a bit too egotistical, even for me.

So which group am I in then?  The "get the frig off my screen, you screaming loony" bunch of people or the "I'm on my way down to yours with 3-for£10 bottles of wine, you screaming loony" type of person?  Read on to find out...

100 Words - Click, Listen, Write

My finger hovers over the pause button whilst I listen to another snippet of sound.   I click, then pick up my pen and write quickly before I forget.  Then I repeat, over and over again, sometimes going back a few seconds to make sure I have heard correctly, occasionally listening to the same three words.

I have not slipped back to the 1980s, attempting to learn the lyrics of the latest pop song to impress my mates on Monday.  I am merely trying to transcript a one-minute piece of conversation for an assignment.  The principle is much the same though.  


Words in Pictures - March 2011

I love constructing a "Wordle" from time to time.  Sometimes it give me inspiration for the next month and others times it give me the opportunity to see what I've been banging on about.  This time I took the text from all my blog posts from March 2011 and this is what the mash-up looks like:  


The State of Education

When you live in Blackburn and you are the parent to tweens and teens, it is hard not to take notice of the rumour mill cranking its way round the local schools.  Moreso when you have the utmost responsibility of selecting a high school for them.  Luckily (if you see it that way), we don't live in a "lottery area" so the choice of schools is pretty much on an even keel, with the faith schools slightly out-performing the traditional comprehensives.  We do, however, live in an area that is performing below the national average.

I come from the era of "old school" when teachers were respected, you stood up at your desk on the rare occasion that the headmaster entered the classroom, blackboard dusters were thrown with regularity in the direction of unnecessary behaviour and if you got a detention you missed your bus home and had to yomp into town to catch another.  There were only ever one or two students that were recognised as being 'difficult' or 'naughty'.  We were also 'victims' of the NUT strikes in the 1980's but the teachers were striking over pay rises back then and disruption to routine was the only way to make anyone sit up and take notice.

Listography: Now That's What I Call Music

I keep meaning to join in Kate's Listography series.  Some of the posts that are dotted around the blogosphere created from her prompts make me HOWL laughing!

This week I've just got to join in completely embarrass myself as the theme is "First Five Albums".

Now, before you read my answers, please bear in mind that I am a child of the Seventies and I only really discovered music during my teenage years... and we all know what was wrong with the Eighties, don't we?  The following albums are all to do with parental influence part of my definitive childhood.  Don't you dare diss it!  You can click on each of the images to be taken to the track listing of each album if that's what floats your boat.

Back in 1974 the world was a simpler place.  The Wombles was an innovative children's programme with an important environmental message.  Singer/songwriter Mike Batt (yes, he who discovered Katie Melua) brought The Wombles to life and created the The Wombles band.  All together now... # Remember you're a womble.  Remember you're a womble.  Remember-member-member what a Womble-womble-womble you are... # 


Now we move on to a time when I was had a little record player in my bedroom.  For some reason my mum always left music or stories playing whilst I was falling asleep.  I don't remember being afraid of the dark but I always remember having the background sound and the landing light on.  It is a habit that has stayed with me ever since and I still nod off listening to podcasts or with relaxing music on.  The next album - Danny Kay sings Hans Christian Anderson and other favourites - was the one that I always requested.  My two favourite tracks were Inchworm and Thumbelina.  In fact, I can close my eyes and still here Danny Kaye's voice singing the words and I'll never hear it any other way.

Edit:  Thanks to Wendy's influence, my lack of self-control and a yearning for nostalgia, I nipped over to and bought this album.  I am going to introduce my grandchildren to the wonderful world of Hans Christian Anderson and the lovely tones of Danny Kaye.

Now the next album probably belonged to my parents but I claimed it as my own.  I'll never forget seeing Bobby Farrell doing the Ra-Ra-Rasputin dance on Top of the Pops (circa 1978) and then falling in love with Mary's Boy Child in the same year.  I adored the beaded caps that the ladies wore and the soulfulness of the songs.  Nightflight To Venus was my first foray into "real" music and that album cover is just to die for (plus that random stockinged foot on the album cover always fascinated me)!

We have to fast forward now to 1983.  This is a year of massive importance as it is the year I moved from primary school to high school and grew up overnight.  By the time I had been at school for less than two months I had discovered Duran Duran - a music influence that was to stay with me for the rest of my life.  The album Seven and the Ragged Tiger was high on my wishlist and I managed to save up my pocket money.  If albums could have been worn out by being played too much then that is exactly what happened with this.  It was my introduction to The Reflex (fle-fle-fle-fle-flex...) which is still a firm favourite today and I still have the album in the loft somewhere.

Last, but by no means least, is the first album in a series that has now become a national treasure and I am proud to have been there at the beginning.  Now That's What I Call Music used to be released once a year (if I remember correctly) and had the best selling singles of the year on it.  This album introduced me to the song Kissing With Confidence, one which I mentioned a few days ago on Facebook as one of the songs that I hadn't heard in a while but knew every single word to.  I'm not sure that's something to be proud of or ashamed of...  I am sure I still have the cassette version of this but not sure whether it is here or at my sister's house.  I found "Now 2" in a bag of tapes a few months back.

If you are reading this on Facebook and don't blog, I'd love for you to share your First Five Albums in the comments under the post.  Don't let me be the only one with a checkered musical start in life.

Photo Credits: Image 1 |  Image 2 |  Image 3 |  Image 4  |  Image 5

The Story Of The Communal Microwaves

This is a strange tale.  It is the tale of two microwaves and other electrical equipment in a communal kitchen.

Cancer - Your Story : The Big C

Editors Note: It's been a while since I posted any "Cancer - Your Story" guest posts.  The facility is always there in the background if anyone wants to use it.  Recently, Sharon contacted me and asked if I could reproduce an up-to-date version of her own story about her Dad along with information about what she has done to raise awareness and charity funds.   This blog post originally appeared on Sharon's blog, "I Heart Motherhood" and you can find her on Twitter as @iheartmuthahood


More Me

More useless information about me that you probably knew already but you're here anyway and might as well read... *ahem*

100 Words - Dear Mum

I realised, with a jolt, that it is weeks since I visited your grave.  I felt guilty.  But I also remembered that you would want me to live in the here and now and make the most of what is happening in my life, especially as it is so exciting now. 

I want to know what you would have thought.  What am I saying?  Of course you would have been proud of me.  That's what Mother's do, isn't it?  Enthuse about their off-spring.  

What I'm trying to say is, even though you're not here anymore, you're still my inspiration.

If you would like to suggest a prompt for my 100 Words post on a Sunday then please email me

Wikio Parent Blog Rankings - April Preview

Do you fancy a sneak preview of the Wikio Parent Blog rankings for April?

The End Of The World Is Nigh!

My "BBC Breaking News" app on my phone was flashing wildly this morning.  "EARTHQUAKE IN BLACKPOOL."  I checked the date - April 1st - but thought it would have been a pretty sick joke as an April Fool prank considering recent events in Japan.
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