The first courses out of the way, we got to the speeches. Bonita's Uncle Doug Kay, her mother's brother, all the way down from Queensland, was to kick off with the toast to the Bride and Groom.
Ray:"Now, I'd like to call on Bonita's Uncle Doug to toast the young couple - well maybe not so young, but certainly now legally a couple."
Doug then welcomed Peter to his new family, told us some interesting things about Bonita's background, which Peter hadn't known up till then, including the time she and her mother were caught in a storm and narrowly missed decapitation when a nearby roof floated by and crashed on the ground beside them. He then called on the gathering to be upstanding and toast the happy couple
"Bonita and Peter".
If you have a picture of Doug which catches him at a less unfortunate moment, we would love to hear from you, please.
Ray: "Thank you Doug. Now I will read you the telegram from Bonita's brother and her father, still recovering in an Amsterdam hospital. It arrived this morning.
I now call upon Peter to reply to the toast to the Bride and Groom"
Peter: Thank you, Ray.
And thank you Doug, for your kind words. I certainly feel myself becoming part of this welcoming family.
Good afternoon, families and friends.
Thank you all for sharing this day with us - especially those who have had to travel - some of you for considerable distances. I'd like particularly to thank my late father's brother - my Uncle Ben, for making it here today. At 93 he is the only living fossil I know, and for me a valuable link to an earlier generation and no doubt a more gracious way of life. Though perhaps in Ben's case ....?
I also want to thank both Bonita's father, Guillaume (Bill) Lipse who sent that delightful blessing from Holland, and her mother, Eunice, between them making this marvellous companion for me, who far exceeds my most optimistic hopes. They say life begins at forty - let me say it kicks in properly at sixty-five, if you really get lucky!
Now, thank you to all who are making today so successful -
Bonita's true friend Anne Cook has been a tower of strength ever since she threatened to break my left leg if I didn't propose; my friends Graeme (our official photographer) and his wife Kath Ward would have broken my right leg for the same reason; Ray Harlick my excellent best man; Jonno Beckett - today's dedicated cinematographer - who has for so many years helped me develop my skiing skills; Margaret Booth for this marvellous dress; Cecily Lovasz for legitimising our union so delightfully. Thank you all. David Jones' team took the cake (which is why there isn't one) for venue, layout, cuisine, and music, provided by Michael Hope on piano and David Clayton on bass. The flowers were from John of Wentworth Florists, who have been growing-on these lovely potted plants to be in full bloom for today - Bonita chose them to be also our gift to you, to take away with you at the end of the celebrations - please.
Everyone has been so kind and helpful, and played their roles with such friendliness and energy. Once I had lubricated them with bubbly there was no stopping them.
I wish my parents were alive to be here. They gave me so much - not least strength of character from my Mother and acerbic wit from my Dad. Fifty years ago I asked him what I could do to be more 'successful' with women. "You're too serious, My Son," he said, "get women laughing and you'll laugh them right into bed." My word. Every man should teach his sons that! I have finally learnt what he meant, and you only have to look at Bonita and me to see the effect. Thank you Mum and Dad.
I think this is the point where we should turn our thoughts for a moment towards all the other people who couldn't be here with us today. I'd like you to join with me in a toast to them. "To absent friends".
I also wanted to thank Bonita for taking a chance with me, but I've found she had her own agenda. I was at my acme when I met her, but she is an excellent trainer, and I am even better now. She wrote to one of her friends, "He's a grey-haired, kind man, perfect in all but a few minor ways that I am discovering - but I will cure him of those, of course!"
You ask about our plans - we will both keep working initially, but gradually move towards our own projects. My unit will be tenanted and we will live at Clifton Gardens - you are all welcome at any time and we will chase you up to see that you come. It's a lovely home but too small for two active retirees, so we'll want to find something roomier - but affordable - which may rule out Sydney.
On 'affordable' - we want to thank all Bonita's loyal friends who recommended a pre-nuptial contract. To reassure you - from the outset we planned a family trust, registered with ASIC, having Bonita as a trustee and one of you (you know who you are) as another, with our separate assets in it properly tabulated and audited. Its care and nurturing is now one of our projects.
As Anne Cook may have told you, we want to see all the family and friends who couldn't be here today rather than add to our two kettles, three point six eight sets of crockery and seven point three coffee-makers. So we thank you all for your gifts, especially those helping us towards that trip, and we'll be writing to each of you kind people to thank you personally. We'll travel early in the New Year despite the European cold, for we hope to ski as well. Bonita only took this up lately, but has already an excellent stance, and intends also, one day perhaps, to master your actual sliding, and turning, and stopping. Especially the stopping.
This is a lovely day for us. We have been so looking forward to it. The preparations included the writing, and the revisions, and the cutting. I finally got my speech inside two hours. Such prunings are now called "out-takes" and come up with the final credits - like, right now.
Out of Bonita's vows we cut:
And me? Bonita insisted this went:
Finally, there wasn't space in the invitation poem for:
Now, please be sure you have something to drink, and to join me in toasting Anne here, the Matron of Honour, for all her help, talent and beauty:
Ladies and Gentlemen, it's my pleasant task now, on behalf of the Matron of Honour, to thank Peter for his toast, and I am sure that Anne was warmed by his kind words. And richly deserved kind words they were too, if I may say so.
One thing you can depend on Peter for is kind words - when they are deserved. As long as I have known him, Peter has always shown kindness and understanding. Our friendship began at university, so I have known him almost forty years, obviously not as long as his brother Stephen has, and not nearly as long as Jon Dumble, whom I understand used to share his playpen when they were both two. Since then Jon and Stephen and I have all grown older, but I suspect that all that has happened to Peter is that his hair has changed colour. At sixty five to get married, and to be trying to get into the alpine training school to become a ski instructor? I ask you! One down - that's today ticked off - and one to go. Good luck with the ski school Peter. We all expect you to succeed at that too.
When I first met Peter he was, untypically for him as you will agree, trying to persuade a small group of other students in a cafe about the correctness of some opinion he held at the time. Foolishly - then, (though I would know better now) - I suggested that he climb onto a table and declaim to the whole restaurant. I thought my scalpel-sharp irony would leave him at a loss, but he trumped my ace, and acted as if he thought I meant it seriously.
It did not at all surprise me that this landscape gardener, as he had been till then, told me one day that he wanted to be an international business consultant, and went on after much struggle - for he was never a natural student - to get a degree, win a research scholarship for excellence in industry, and finally rise to be the person appointed to set up the Australian Federal Airports Corporation. That he completed with great success before he succumbed to cancer and was forced to retire from business, but he eventually achieved an extraordinary remission. After that he took up the commercial writing that is now his main source of income, though he also works on preparing his novels for publication."
"Now, I would like you all please to move to your next table number, as shown on your card, after which the desserts and coffee will be served."