Retro Tuesday: Marriage And New Beginnings

A CLOSE FRIEND of mine got married yesterday, and not for the first time; coming soon after Christmas, with its messages of new beginnings — to say nothing of the lovely girl he’s married — hopes are high that this time, it will last a lifetime. A simple garden ceremony provides the impetus for Retro Tuesday this week, but in case anyone is worried I’m going to force them to sit through a video of someone else’s wedding, there are bigger fish to fry.

Simultaneously, the greatest problem and the greatest joy about us as human beings is that we’re all different; there are those narcissists who think the world would be just fine if everyone agreed with them all of the time, and if nobody ever dared to dissent or object to what they said or did or wanted. The overwhelming majority of us, however, would quickly grow bored, no matter how comfortable we might feel in our own skins.

Personally, the idea of 7 billion clones of me running around the place is enough to make me want to scoop my eyeballs out with a spoon. Just for starters.

The friend of mine in question (and I won’t identify him — and being a rather private individual, neither will virtually every reader of this column) begins his third marriage today with great hope and optimism with a lady he’s known since the two of them were children; over the years and interspersed between marriages, international relocations, and all the other changes in life that just happen, they have passed in and out of each other’s lives time and again, but it has only been in the last few years that they finally got together.

As the immortal John Lennon once said, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Ne’er a truer word was spake, so to speak.

My friend’s first wedding — which preceded my acquaintance with him — was the stereotypical white wedding; lots of people, big church, big to-do with the obligatory realm of attendees…the sort of thing that nowadays costs the same as a small apartment to put on, and one would have to say the purchase of an apartment as the gift of a head start in such circumstances is probably the better way to spend the money, old-fashioned notions and aspirations of romance and chivalry notwithstanding.

Sometimes love — and marriage — just dies; it doesn’t have to be with a bang, or in tempestuous acrimony; it doesn’t have to be anyone’s fault, or because someone did or didn’t do something; sometimes things change and evolve as we mature as people; and sometimes things just end. So it was in this case.

His second was to a certifiable lunatic (not that anyone realised it) whose mother — unquestionably — was in charge; anyone who harboured any misapprehensions about that point was either involuntarily set to rights or involuntarily discarded in whatever manner could be engineered to be as malicious and vicious and destructive as possible.

Watching on, I could always relate where #2 was concerned, for I once narrowly escaped a fate that in retrospect I’m certain would have been virtually identical; the pliable, obedient, acquiescent daughter and the domineering mother who would brook neither opposition nor challenge, backed by a formidable familial machine of bitches, arseholes, fork-tongued manipulators and other cretinous specimens with the morals of alley cats on heat and the aspiration merely to exercise malevolent control over the lives of others. There are good reasons that people who know me hear me describe the individual in question as “the wrong girl.” It is simple shorthand for a creature and the rabid litter whence she came that collectively rank beneath contempt.

Unfortunately, most of the people I know, when they look around, know of more than one relationship within their social ecosystems that almost exactly mirrors these examples, if they’re not in one themselves; I was lucky: I was jettisoned before there could even be a marriage, and after the initial indignation and shellshock subsided (despite knowing, deep down, the realities of the situation well over a year before it ended) the relief at avoiding a fate almost literally worse than death cannot be overstated.

My friend, however, played the whole regrettable storyline out to its inevitable conclusion, and if a situation ever defined the stereotype of a horrific marriage breakdown, this was it.

So — after four years of assuring my friend that “it’s safe to marry this one,” for his third wife really is a great girl — yesterday, finally, he did, and whilst the cacophony of bullshit emanating from #2’s bunker did its best to drown out the goodwill and bonhomie and merriment that marked the occasion, it couldn’t compete with the sentiment of the track that opened proceedings in a simple but dignified civil ceremony in the hills about 70km south of Melbourne.

Horror stories and happy endings aside, the point today — apart from providing an excuse to introduce Lennon into the retro circuit in this column — is that nothing lasts forever; everything changes, and even people apparently perfectly suited in every way at one end of a liaison or marriage can, at the other, have grown, changed, or been manipulated to surrender the things they once held dear.

Some people can live together for a lifetime. Some can move silently, unknowingly and in the most congenial spirits in different directions to the point “together” is no longer a feasible word in the lexicon. Some people can implode, taking some of the surrounding countryside with them. And some can just be the kind of people whose selfishness, for whatever reason, makes them happy only if they are able to destroy the happiness of others.

With seven billion stories on planet Earth and our little human penchant for pairing off, it’s no wonder the range of outcomes is infinitely different — and the means by which they are arrived at, however variously splendid or acrimonious they may prove.

I wish my old mate many years of happiness as he embarks on the life he was probably always destined to share with his new wife: and this brings up our double shot today.

A proper British Christmas tradition each year is the contest between its major retailers to see who can come up with the funniest or cleverest Christmas commercial, or who can produce the one most adept at getting everyone misty-eyed and weepy; last year the chocolates went to John Lewis for its Monty the Penguin number, and whilst Monty doesn’t feature today, a variation of the audio track from the John Lewis offering of 2014 does.


20 years ago — in what must rank as one of the greatest musical bastardisations ever committed — Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, “handed over” to Paul McCartney two demo tapes of unfinished songs that were found among his effects after his assassination in 1980; Beatles enthusiasts (of which I am one) went mostly apeshit for the new “Beatles” songs Free As A Bird and Real Love that were eventually released, dubbed and modified and treated with effect by McCartney et al to the point Lennon’s lyrics and voice were almost indecipherable.

I thought they were a disgrace, and should instead have been released as part of an “unplugged” or “lost tapes” type compilation of unreleased work under Lennon’s own name, but I had (and I think, still have) the minority opinion on that.

The version I share with readers today doesn’t feature a pretty video for commercial release; rather, it is a restored version of Real Love as it existed when first recorded by Lennon, sitting at his piano; apparently, a tambourine Lennon was playing with his foot has been stripped from this version, and an earlier version that featured it (and which was originally embedded into this post) was taken down by YouTube because the guy who posted it was a bit of a dab hand for copyright breaches.

In terms of our subject, it’s a pity, but the indecipherable “Beatles” song is presented for what it was when Lennon first wrote it: a simple expression of love.

It seems a noble and fitting wish as two good people set forth on a new life together.

All the very best to them both…and a “happily ever after.”