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Wedding Belle
by David Harker

“Biggest mistake of her life this is”.

The woman didn't seem one for keeping her opinions to herself, and Julie was on the receiving end of the entire wedding collection.

“Really? I think they make a lovely couple” she ventured.

“Ahh well it always starts out like that, but then they change! Take me for example".

I wish someone would, thought Julie perhaps a little uncharitably, but she was getting tired of this complete stranger talking ceaselessly at her. She’d arrived at St. Chad’s much later than she’d intended – the high street had been at a standstill and parking practically non-existent. Now, as a consequence, she sat at the back next to some 'Essex girl' of a character who just wouldn’t shut up.

“My names Connie!” offered the woman, giving her a dig in the ribs.

“What?” replied Julie with a start. She’d actually been miles away, wondering whether she’d put enough money in the meter.

“I'm Connie. I was just saying how my ex was so cute until we got married. Changed in an instant he did – right before my very eyes!”

Connie paused briefly for the sympathy she felt she deserved. When it didn’t come she tried again.

“Couldn’t do enough for me he couldn’t, then all of a sudden he turns into some kind of couch slouch. Wouldn’t have minded so much but he was a right grumpy git too. Well you know what I say don’t you! Some say the glass is half empty and some say it's half full… but I just say ‘Are you going to drink that or what?’”.

Connie shrieked with laughter at her own joke and gave Julie a playful push, drawing attention to herself and by default to Julie, who squirmed with embarrassment and mouthed an apology to the sea of disapproving faces now scowling at them.

“Look at all them stuck up gits with their la-di-da faces. You’d think they’d never had a larf in their lives!”

Connie stuck her tongue out at a matronly figure with a particularly effective disapproving look on her face.

“Anyway I was telling you about my ex. Well we went off last year on holiday to Pontin’s. Gawd that was a do that was - pissed off our faces every night we was, brilliant! Then on the last night I went for a wee and come back to find him with some slag’s hand down his trousers! Bold as brass! Middle of the dance floor and all!”

Connie waited for Julie to interject some semblance of sympathy, and once more she fell decidedly short of the mark.

“What did you do? I hear you ask”, Connie soldiered on, determined to get to the punch line.

“Well I picked up my handbag, went back to the chalet, threw my stuff in a bag and drove home. Left him to pick up the bill and to get home somehow, which he eventually did. And THEN do you know what he did?”, she paused briefly again for effect before continuing.

“He said he was unhappy and that he just wanted some space in our relationship! The cheeky bastard! So I told him he could enjoy the space of the great outdoors and locked him out!”

Connie cackled loudly and uncontrollably for what seemed an age. The tutting sounds and backward glances added immeasurably to Julie’s discomfort. Fortunately just at the point when she wished a hole would open up for her, the Wedding March started to play and the wedding guests rose to their feet. Every eye turned to the door at the back and a sigh spread through the congregation as the gorgeous bride with her attendants began to sashay down the aisle. The flowers, the dress, the bride - the whole scene was utter perfection. Until that is, the somewhat loud and somewhat imperfect exclamation:

“Ere, who the bleedin’ hell is that?”