Congratulations to my parents Sue and David, who are celebrating their golden wedding anniversary today.
They met in March 1968 during a blind date arranged by some mutual friends, at dinner for six at an Indian restaurant on West End Lane in the NW6 area of London, next door to West Hampstead fire station. The fire station’s still there, but the restaurant is now the swanky Thunderbird cocktail bar.
Mum wasn’t working as a waitress but a state-enrolled nurse (SEN) living in NHS nurses’ accomodation in Leighton Road, Kentish Town. Dad was an apprentice builder still living at home, having been a West Hampstead boy for most of his life. In fact his local boozer, The Railway, was next door to the Decca Studios in Broadhurst Gardens where David Bowie was recording much of his ’60s output.
My parents married at Hampstead Registry Office (next to Whitestone Pond on the edge of Hampstead Heath) on 12 February 1969; a Wednesday and, yes, two days before Valentine’s Day. There’s a good reason this, though. At the beginning of the twentieth century, it was customary to hold weddings on weekdays.
In fact, according to an old folk rhyme that many people at the time would have known — “Marry on Monday for health, Tuesday for wealth, Wednesday the best day of all, Thursday for crosses, Friday for losses, and Saturday for no luck at all” — so back then, at the tail end of the Swinging Sixties, it would have been considered bad luck to get married on a Friday or Saturday.
Rather annoyingly I seem to have mislaid my photo of their wedding day (hence the piccie of my Christening in Aylesbury), but I know about it as I was there. You just couldn’t see me, that’s all. My maternal grandmother (Polymnia, or in Greek Πολύμνια) did a bit of dressmaking on the side and cleverly cut my mum’s wedding dress so it wouldn’t reveal there was a little Pafford on the way.
A few years ago, I asked mum how much of a factor I was in their shotgun wedding, and apparently I just “sped things up a bit, that’s all. We would have got married anyway.”
Featured image: November 2016 at the Cross Keys in Buckinghamshire, with my oldest friend Joanne Povey