Gill Smith
Gill Smith - Comedy Writer & Performer

Gill's Journal, Issue

Quarterly magazine of The ARM Club the Leading Independant
RISC OS Computer User Club.
Last weekend Toby and I had the privilege of attending a wedding... no, not one of my sisters - this was a spod getting married. Yes, some weeks ago the invite arrived in Tobyís inbox... OK, Iím not being fair there - I should explain. The invite only arrived by e-mail because the paper version had somehow ended up at an old postal address. The brideís parents by then needed to know numbers, and we needed the details, if we were going to get there at all.
Former bride Gill Smith offers some well-informed advice on how to attend a spod's wedding and, if you're so inclined, perhaps even lead on to one of your own.
So the spod in question having managed Ďsnail mailí his original invites, what about the wedding list? This was something you could view online, buy online, and even send heartfelt messages by typing them into a text box online. Is it just me, or was it fun, as a kid, when you could work out who a present or card was from by looking at the handwriting on the label?

But with a weddingís worth of presents, I suspect the joys of a comprehensive who-gave-what list provided by the store ranks higher in helping write thank-you letters, than the fun of guess-who-gave-what. Anyway, growing up, my relatives seemed to send a lot of parcels with my motherís handwriting on them, and looked quite surprised when I made sure I remembered to thank them for whatever they apparently gave me... it was just a waste of the effort of making sure you played with it in front of them!

Thankfully, this particular wedding list wasnít all credit-card software downloads (that would be too spoddy) and a dinner service was very much in evidence. Itís the great joy of a list - going around picking things, without having to pay for them! Donít you wish ARM Club shows were like that? If you have imaginative friends, they can throw in a few surprises - preferably nice ones! I doubt that, in this case, the bride would have considered her very own A7000 the best of surprises... but then who needs a wedding to end up with one or two things we only get out when the friend or relative who gave it to us comes to visit?

Anyway, one of the joys of my very own laptop, and a permanent internet connection (doesnít he give me romantic things! Yeah, OK, I wouldnít be without either...) is that between us, Toby and I had managed to e-mail a reply to the wedding invitation, look up how to get to the reception venue, and order a piece of china as a wedding present, all within minutes of getting the details. Weíd even been able to see clear pictures of our gift to them. Hereís hoping the bride knows how one is supposed to use a dinner service... I have vivid memories of the groom once having difficulties with a paper plate and a take-away Chinese. No, alcohol wasnít involved, not until later, anyway.

So, the question a spodess has to ask herself, is whether this wedding came about all thanks to my brilliant advice about tomato-rich diets, not dithering, and dressing in style? Because, if this is the case, everyone else better get on with following my wise words, and Iíd better take out shares in!

Well, I have to confess, I completely forgot to check the groomís plate to see if he had left any of his side-salad, but Iím confident that the tomato advice was sound. I caught two single spods leaving tomatoes during the day (you know who you are!) Excuses such as "I only like tomatoes cooked" or "I do eat tomatoes, but only raw" are clearly not as attractive a prospect, in the view of young, single, attractive women, as that of a man munching his way through a bit of beef tomato, or tucking into a vine-ripened slice. (NB - to add to previous discussions on tomatoes, I have recently concluded that eating tomatoes that suffer the heresy of being sundried is not good enough, and probably should be considered worse than eating no tomatoes at all. Well, I donít like them, and Iím saving you suffering.)

The other advice Iíve offered over the years? Well, if the lucky man had dithered through a proposal, how would his gorgeous lady have known when she could say yes? (Presumably a female spod would have dithered over her response?) Dithering heart never won fair lady, and decisively asking her out is likely to lead to better success than merely standing around the same room (or city centre square) as her.

Another example for you: the groom dressing in style was quite clearly in evidence, although I have my suspicions that the morning suit may have gone back to Moss Bros on Monday. Men donít know how lucky they are that the entire bridal party get to wear the same thing, and that this doesnít need any thought at all.

The wedding itself was thoroughly enjoyable, although Iím sure the bride and groom spent far more time kneeling at the altar than can possibly be healthy for a spod, trained only in sitting in front of glowing monitors.

The bride wore white, and the groom showed no signs of Phoebe case yellow, and only a very pale shade of purple for the cravat. The speed of their signing the register implies that the groom hasnít forgotten how to write, and thankfully didnít need to log onto the church network to download his PGP signature.

The pair promised to love each other through sickness and health, although, worryingly, there was no mention of how they would deal with a dodgy internet connection. Maybe thatís covered in Ďfor worse.í They also exchanged wedding rings, and I did check later that these were metal, not Token Rings.

The brideís father, groom, and best man all made speeches, without any mention of the groomís reckless youth, when heíd leave several computers around his flat, without even putting their cases on. Whatever exploits he got up to at shows from Wakefield to Merton Court remain a mystery to his Mrs. (Although feel free to send me any good stories...) Iím told that even the stag party was a tame affair, and no one stripped the groomís motherboard, or tied the threads in his mail to a lamp post in

So, just how does a spod progress from bachelor geek, less than four years ago when Toby and I got married, to todayís happy husband? The spod who just achieved this is, I hope, busy enjoying his honeymoon, so Iím afraid I canít provide you with a full interview. However, I did get a brief run down of the major changes in his life over these four years.

These changes are very simple, and can be imitated by any spod aspiring to a wife. The groom is now the owner of at least one suit, and has learned to dance. Unless the suit was the morning suit he married in, I havenít been able to check the quality of the groomís new attire - the weekendís one was pretty similar to that the brideís father wore. I donít think, however, that this should be taken as a suggestion to stalk her father until you know where he buys his polo-necks. Weddings are different. What I can say about the apparel at the event is that other spods attending did look very smart, so this bodes well for more confetti throwing and online wedding-list shopping in the future.

The groomís dancing I did get to see. And when he said heíd learnt to dance, he really meant it. This wasnít merely hitting the beat with each shuffle from foot to foot, and was a great improvement on occasional spoddy scenes of wild and reckless arm-waving, leaving the rest of the dance floor in danger of a black eye. The bride and groom met through salsa classes, and in spite of being introduced to each other, they had clearly managed to pay attention in lessons. Thatís one set of classes where they really got their moneyís worth!

Clearly the ability to gyrate correctly to more tunes than Ďthe Birdy songí and to make the right moves for music more complex than ĎAga Dooí has a positive effect with women. The groom got to put his arms around his bride, rather than merely mime holding a chicken in the air, and sticking a deckchair up his nose in the same vicinity as her. More importantly, she didnít have to take a firm grasp of his limbs in order to stop him acting out ĎDisco 2000í (your house... was very small... etc!)

Being able to dance without either injury, or hideous embarrassment to yourself and all those around you is clearly a plus point I have missed out previously when offering you advice. Go and look up your nearest local class. Letís face it, I can confirm from many sources (mostly disappointed and female) that women completely outnumber men in almost all dancing classes, from salsa to waltz to line dancing (so Iím told - Iím not recommending line dancing to anyone who doesnít own a large Texan ranch, and a hat almost as big.) So even if you donít learn elegantly gliding around the dance floor, you might still get a conversation as you and your choice of partner try to master the technicalities of the tango.

Anyway, back to the wedding. For an added twist - which could refer to the coupleís stylish dancing, or their sense of humour - after a full meal, and alcohol liberally flowing, we were all treated to a salsa class. I believe everyone there actually understood that this wasnít about cooking up a dip for tortilla chips, but did in fact involve moving their feet. And at very least, getting to hold hands with someone of the opposite gender. I really do hope that everyone found this a more pleasant prospect than if they had been forced to learn to mash the dreaded tomatoes into a tangy sauce.

Now, apart from the fun of learning a new dance, this lesson gave the spods an interesting opportunity. The tutors simply lined up the men on one side, the women on the other, and then made the men go find a lady to dance with. I was most impressed that, at this point, instead of muttering excuses and dashing for the gents, those spods attending found themselves all set to salsa with various pretty young women. And I didnít hear any screams of feet being trodden on - in fact, Iím pretty sure I saw some smiles! Even from the lovely ladies partnering spods who refused their tomatoes.

One, or both of the happy couple had kindly had the foresight to invite a number of young, single blonde women to their happy day, and this was clearly much appreciated by the guest spods. After the lessons some of the young ladies then went on to demonstrate that they already knew plenty more steps, and didnít even seem to mind being watched in the process.

Clearly, however, one subject I havenít covered in enough detail is that of asking a lady to dance. Itís not a problem when the six-foot-something dance instructor insists, but clearly becomes one shortly after. What excuses did they offer? The usual trips to the bar and having a full drink, but also that the ladies dancing were too good.

My gender allows me to offer one piece of advice here: women would prefer to dance with men than each other. Obviously, this does depend to a degree on the man, but short of actually having three left feet, or a spare head (which set of eyes to gaze lovingly into? Itíd be too complicated a decision!) you, the spod, make a better dancing partner than thin air.

We women have egos too, you know, and like to think just one of you men - even spods - would prefer to dance with us than stare into your pint of Stella, while making small talk about your latest updates to your OS. It can make a girl feel terribly unattractive to think that the details of how many ARM Club members renewed this quarter (much as we appreciate you doing so), is a greater thrill than the opportunity to put your arm round her waist.

Hopefully the mental scars these young ladies will suffer, caused by geeks refusing to go nearer them than just hovering on the edges of dance floors, will not be permanent. They may have been healed a touch by a few spods ambling onto the edges of the area, during the odd song that didnít involve salsa-swirling past the waiting crowds of aunties who secretly wouldnít mind a dance, but have already lost the uncles to the distant bar area for well-just-the-one-cigar-then, since a wedding is such a good excuse. Thank goodness no one put on the hokey-cokey... the spods would never have stood a chance!

So, now you know what to do, and can put that permanent internet connection to good use. Go and look up a local dancing class. Do a search until you find something suitable. Please note that, if you are an absolute beginner, it may be best to try something that takes less energy than salsa. Start gently with a waltz, and refuse to cha-cha until your fitness has improved a little. Once youíve joined the class, all you have to do is ask one of the lonely bored young ladies if sheíll be so kind as to dance with you, and it might not the that long before I get to go shopping again for a new hat for your wedding. And youíd hate to deprive me of that fun.

Anyway, Iíd like you all to raise a glass - or coffee mug, if it happens to be nearer - to last weekendís bride and groom. Iím sure youíll all join me in wishing them both health, wealth and happiness. While weíre here, we should wish her computers that have their cases on, and just a limited house network. And we wish heíd share his secret!

Written by Gill Smith, © Published Autumn 2002 Reproduced with permission.