I said I missed wearing a wedding ring – but not the wives that came with them. Marriage to me has always felt like one of those 1990s pop magazines that comes with a free comb. I like the free comb but not the magazine.
The lady in the jewellers told me it was great that men were now pleasing themselves and buying their own rings. I explained that I wasn’t planning to marry myself – it would end in divorce – but had cleverly taken out a civil partnership with She Who Must Be Obeyed. It had saved me – and her – the fuss of writing a new will.
The lady asked how we’d celebrated. I replied by going home and cooking a Chicken Kiev.
“Oh, great,” said the woman in the jeweller’s. “I love a good Chicken Kiev.”
The other woman in the jewellers, it has to be said, looked discombobulated. Still dreaming of Romeo and imagining that everyone lives happily ever after, she’d not read that quote from Buddha which says ‘life is suffering’.
To exist in this world, we must contend with humiliation, broken dreams, sadness, and loss. And if we can laugh in the face of it – and celebrate with a chicken kiev – then ours will be the riches of the world.
So I bought my new wedding ring. It was great. Dull and unpolished – I know, go on, hit me with the ‘just like its new owner’ punchline, ahahahahaha – it was the antithesis of a common or garden wedding band.
I’d had to go to the jewellers a few times, first to choose it, second to get it fitted, third to crack jokes about ex wives. I’d been there so often I was thinking of taking my own chair and table, then working remotely from the corner.
The lady in the jeweller’s, the one who likes a good chicken kiev, asked me about the inscription I’d requested on an earlier visit. “Did I?” I asked, forgetfully, and happy to take the dull and unshiny please-yourself band as it was.
She checked her notes. Apparently I had. I’d asked for a Seneca quote, in Latin, along with the names of the two most important people in my life and a reference to a Foo Fighters song.
Ha. That’s Kulture. Right there. The Latin summer school I attended aged 15 at Rowley Regis College in order to chat up girls on the 245 bus had clearly left an impression.
“What does it mean?” asked the romantic girl, who wanted to be swept off her feet and still believed in love. Foolish thing.
“Is it Italian for chicken kiev?”
The inscription – Veritas Numquam Perit – meant truth never perishes.
The names of my two besties – She Who Must Be Obeyed and Gorgeous Son – were inscribed alongside, in addition to a song title by the Foo Fighters, which sums up life as well as Seneca.
Even better, though, was the second wedding band that Romantic Lady placed on my wedding finger. It was from my dad, AKA, The Hero, who’d two days earlier celebrated his diamond wedding anniversary with his beloved wife/our beloved mom.
It no longer squeezed onto his wedding finger and he’d decided that the black sheep of the family should get it.
And so I had that inscribed, too, with the date of their wedding and the words: Love, Always. Because that’s what they’ve done. And that’s what their three kids feel about them. Lucky us.
Mind you, I still think I did it best. After their wedding, they got the train to Brixham for an amazing honeymoon.
After my civil partnership, I came straight home and ate a bang-it-in-the-oven M&S Chicken Kiev. And everybody loves a Chicken Kiev.