Kraken lovers, you may have noticed by now that the relationship I have with my television is much like the relationship Harold Shipman had with his patients. Let’s just say that it pitches me into uncontrollably murderous urges and neither of us gets out alive. There is one show, though, that provides me with boundless mirth and that’s BBC 3’s Don’t Tell The Bride, not least because I never get bored of watching people soil their own gussetry over the colour of their buttonholes. The only puppy-punching problem is this: that over and again the show’s voice-over insists that a wedding day is the biggest day of a girl’s life.
You can read that last line again if you want to experience the social and cultural equivalent of flambéing your brain in rabbit droppings and scalding piss before feeding it to a wanking Gregg Wallace. You see, since Kraken Junior slid out of my Cresta Run six years ago I have been told over and over again that the biggest day of any woman’s life is the day that she gets married. It’s as if I’ve developed a highly rare form of sexist tinnitus, the type which refuses to acknowledge that women are no longer extensions of the man standing nearest to them. I’ve heard it from family, strangers, friends, television and so many outlets of cultural effluent that the nation seems to think that even whispering the word ‘wedding’ will have every woman within a fifty mile radius pricking up her ears like a starving dog hearing the lid being ripped off a tin of Pedigree Chum.
Don’t forget that this is 2014 that we’re talking about, a time when we women win Nobel prizes and Olympic medals, when we run conglomerates and kingdoms, when we create the next generation of humankind with the contents of our abdomens. That’s why the mouth-breathing notion that a wedding day “is the biggest day of a girl’s life” – worse, a notion that’s routinely pimped to small girls – confounds me beyond reason. Screw a child’s boundless potential. Instead let’s funnel women’s expectations into a one-way street that turns us into veal calves wedged into crates.
Look, I genuinely don’t give a gnat’s knacker if, for some women, their wedding day really is the biggest day of their lives. Cheers! Cut the cake! Kiss the bride! What I despise, though, is the idea that it is the biggest day for every woman who ever staggered from a toilet because her period has started. How anyone can seriously take an entire gender (roughly three billion women at the last count) and claim that none of them will experience true excitement, delight, love, happiness, fun and hope unless they are swapping rings staggers me. That’s because it claims that nothing women ever do can be as worthwhile as getting married and that until she does so her true potential is lost.
Think about what that says to those of us who choose to not marry (gasp!), don’t meet ‘the one’, prefer more casual relationships or want to focus on our careers or kids instead? It says that these women are not to be trusted, that they have twisted logic or that they are misguided. Oh, and think of what it says to those women who have apparently squandered this big day by becoming divorced, remarried, disillusioned or even domestically abused. Instead of society finally realising that the act of marriage doesn’t suit everybody instead it continues to believe that those millions of people who don’t marry are wrong. It’s like a pervert convincing himself that it’s OK to flash passing women because it’s just the rest of the world that doesn’t understand.
And that’s not the end of it. To assume that a woman’s biggest day is her wedding day is to assume that she has no other hopes, goals or expectations. It’s essentially wiping from the face of her life everything that has gone before that day and everything that is to come after it. If you are married, glorious reader, how old were you when you did it? 22? 36? 41? Well you are shit out of luck for the next however-many years of your life, then, because you’ll apparently never have a day that’s ever as good as that one. Screw the champagne. If I genuinely thought I’d never have another day as good as that of my wedding day I’d be swigging bleach instead.
You see, I married Conjugal Kraken on today in 2007. We spent an entire weekend at a boutique hotel while we scoffed, laughed, frolicked, hugged, vowed and wrote swear words on the leaflets at reception. For those of you who want the details, I got married in a burnt orange evening dress, we walked down the faux-aisle to Carly Simon’s Nobody Does it Better and walked back up it to the Bear Necessities from Jungle Book and I kept my own surname. From beginning to end it was utterly glorious. But was it the single biggest day of my life? No. It was one fuck of a big day, yes, but a day that stands alongside the other big days that have shaped my life, days that include getting into university, getting my degree in politics and law, bagging my first job in journalism, hiking to Mt Everest, the death of my brother, the birth of my daughter, visiting CERN and landing in a psychiatric unit during a breakdown. And as I don’t intend the big days to end I hope to one day add to that list a publishing deal, the opening of my own haberdashery, swimming with sharks and receiving a very decent tonguing from Hinterland’s Richard Harrington. The very notion that my wedding day should render second best all that makes me who I am also makes me want to run through Pronuptia with a flame thrower.
That’s why every person who tells Kraken Junior that the biggest day of the next eighty years of her life will be her wedding day will be countered by this kraken telling her of all the other sphincter-clenching, heart-heaving, mind-soaring pursuits that there are to look forward to. To take her potential, drive, happiness and inquisitiveness and tell her that it all fades into insignificance against a wedding is as cruel as life can get without torturing kittens in front of her at bedtime. Believe me, kraken lovers, there’s only one vow I’m taking right now and it involves a cake knife. Toast, anyone?