Periwinkle steps in to advise Chuffer on his wedding set up, but one thing leads to another and a new business idea is born.
Having sealed the deal with Ms Meadow Flowers to stage Woodstock Plus in my paddock later in the year, I decided to help Chuffer with his nuptials. Given the vast historical expanse of his bachelorhood, I suppose it was statistically inevitable that one day some filly would come along and sweep Chuffer off his feet, and so it turned out – the angel in question taking the earthly form of Daphne Camberwell-Fluff. Fatty was to be the best man.
I had to help him really. Chuffer had the financial skills of a Primary 6 under-performer. He had no idea, for instance, how much the marquee for his wedding reception might cost, and when I told him, he looked as if he’d swallowed a bar of Imperial Leather. In the end, despite my advice to the contrary, he opted for a canvas behemoth he got for 50 quid off the ‘bankrupt circus stock’, forward slash ‘Asia’, section of alibaba.com.
Continuing the theme of ignoring my input, he paid equally scant attention to my suggestions for the hiring of a generator. He knew what he wanted; the one he had seen on Alibaba when he bought the tent. Next to a photo of the tent, a photo of the generator appeared with the caption, ‘Customers who bought this item also bought this’. It looked suspiciously cheap.
Once erected, the tattered canvas tabernacle revealed faded markings proclaiming ‘Shanghai State Circus, 1937!’ but the wedding went ahead at the allotted time. Ms Fluff took the whole ceremony in her stride, but Chuffer seemed pre-occupied. It was only after the wedding that I found out why. “A brilliant idea came to me during the vows,” Chuffer said, “Why not keep the tent as a permanent wedding venue and combine it with the facilities on my rustic glampsite? Best of both worlds, you see!”
Chuffer held forth on a vision as rustic as a cider-brewer’s smock, with the Shanghai Acrobatic Team’s former workplace at its epicentre and an order book overflowing with wedding bookings stretching up hill and down dale all the way to Christmas 2030. The composite site would be a living monument to Chuffer’s entrepreneurial flair. “The idea has the simplicity of a conker and the charm of a Morris Dancer,” he said, as if this were a desirable outcome.
Chuffer’s existing rustic glamping site – so rustic Bear Grylls holidays there – already made money, but with the incorporation of the circus tent, he reckoned he’d have to employ a small team of clerks just to tally the receipts. The speciality of the house would be paella, cooked peasant style. He’d get all the ingredients from ASDA, delivered a couple of hours before the wedding meal.
At this point the dam holding back Chuffer’s creative juices burst. He hit me with a triple-whammy of innovative ideas and his thoughts flooded the conversation. He would save money he enthused, by eschewing traditional marquee heating methods in favour of an SAS technique he’d read about in the Scout Manual he got for his 12th birthday. This involved just three tea-lights, a sheet of baking foil, a Zippo lighter and the signing of the Official Secrets Act.
Chuffer’s next outpouring of creative thinking addressed a means to re-invigorate wedding guests’ cravings for fun and re-kindling their desire to spend even more of their disposable income after the evening reception plonk began to wear off. Wild-boar hunting! Granted, no one had seen a wild boar in the county since the days of Henry VIII. Besides, guests might have to top up their accident insurance, but he could always import boars from France couldn’t he, and insurance can be altered in seconds over the Interweb nowadays?
He swore that his third idea, by far the craziest, came to him as the vicar proclaimed “You may now kiss the bride” when he found himself shouting, “Shoot your own breakfast!”
However, the wedding wasn’t entirely without incident. The cheap generator, like the tent, dated back to pre-war China, a time when safety was for losers. There was no discernible means of baffling the infernal din it made so that the dance band was forced to crank the amplifier up to eardrum-thrumming levels to compete, though later the band leader gave up trying and altered sets to play in time to the unwanted noise.
The day ended well for everyone but Fatty. Through gargantuan effort, Fatty starved himself all day – to make the best of the buffet – but by evening he was possessed of a near supernatural craving for food. He had already eaten his buttonhole carnation, and those of several passers-by in addition to an entire table-top flower arrangement, including the slab of oasis.
The second the buffet opened Fatty propelled himself forward but his leather-soled brogues quickly lost traction on the 50 metre stretch of damp grass over which the marquee had been erected. Pirouetting wildly out of control and looking like Rudolph Nureyev with a 12 pint a day beer belly, he slammed into a soup tureen with the force of a charging rhino.
Guests looked on in horror at the wreckage of the buffet where a semi-conscious Fatty – tuxedo full of beef consommé – lay draped over a loudspeaker like a luxuriously over-stuffed rag doll. When the ambulance arrived, his limp arms still swung in time to Pennsylvania 6-5000.