This week on the Footsteps of the Mountain blog we are honoured to welcome Tony Gould as our special guest blogger, who will be talking knowledgeably about one of his favourite topics, marriage and road traffic accidents.
Tony is an award-winning journalist and Chief Hate Editor with the Daily Mule and has as much chance of getting married as Bill Clinton has of being the next face of Cuban cigars. He doesn’t have many friends who are married (or indeed, many friends at all), but does occasionally read articles about marriage break up in such authoritative publications as the Sunday Sport, Outside magazine and the Guardian. Occasionally you will find him standing on a soap box at Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park venting his feelings about commercial mountaineering on Everest while wearing a wedding dress. We feel this makes him amply qualified to talk about marriage here, and really enhances the quality of this blog.
In 2013 he won the Milk of Human Kindness Award for his investigative piece Why the Queen Mother was a Crack Smoking Whore. So without further ado, over to you Tony.
With vicars treated like lapdogs by cretinous narcissists, a crisis in church matrimony was inevitable
By guest blogger Tony Gould
Chief Hate Editor, the Daily Mule
Wedding Madness was the name of a fancy-dress shop owned by a man who murdered his wife and nine other people in 1996, and chronicled by Jim Krackpot in his bestselling novel Into Insanity. The shop was aptly named. There is an explicit madness attached to marriage; a desire for pain, isolation and submission, either of man or woman, whoever breaks first. Marriage is all the more fascinating to those of us who have never considered dabbling in it because of all the literature written about it that we have little chance of empathising with. “It is a truth universally acknowledged,” whined Jane Austen at the start of Pride and Prejudice, “that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” This statement was written 200 years ago and is no longer that relevant to 21st century western society. So why do I mention it here, when it’s such a tired cliché? Because it’s the only quote about marriage I know and I want to spare you no punches in my effort to demonstrate how ignorant I am.
Now a new type of madness has been exposed, and it’s all about money. Last Friday 16 people were killed in a tragic accident when their bus rolled down an embankment on their way to a wedding in Tunbridge Wells, and the blithe cretins standing at the altar decided to go ahead with the ceremony anyway. Rich amateurs have been getting married for years, but now people who wouldn’t be capable of organising a piss-up in a brewery pay up to £40,000 for the privilege of indulging in matrimony and having nearly all the work done for them. They are chauffeur-driven to the church, where ushers dressed in double-breasted suits tell them where to stand, and a man dressed humiliatingly in a black gown and wearing a collar that would look more comfortable on a dog reads in deferential fashion from a book. Florists provide bouquets of flowers, huge marquee tents are erected in the grounds of stately homes by casual labourers who are paid a pittance, and even the catering is done for them. Champagne, of course, flows like water. These days if you have enough money it’s possible to pay vicars to drag you to the altar.
And while conditions are made safe for these despicable creatures in their chauffeur driven limousines, more and more clergymen are exposed to danger loitering at dangerous road junctions while they drive themselves to church to hitch up ever growing numbers of lying incompetents who can’t even keep their wedding vows. Most of the guests would far rather be doing something more interesting with their Saturday than going to church for the only time in their lives, then sitting through boring speeches which eulogise about these narcissistic morons. And then of course they have to accommodate the ultimate selfie, the disgusting Freudian apogee of these expensive parties, the wedding day photograph, in an act known as “posing”, which itself is a word fit only for the illiterate.
A tragedy was inevitable, and a few hours after last Friday’s accident Take Her Up The Aisle magazine published some high quality back-of-the-envelope research which revealed that a woman is 12 times more likely to be murdered by her spouse in a moment of temporary insanity than a US soldier had of dying during the height of the Iraq war, a statistic that sounds unbelievable and almost certainly is. But being both a journalist and pig-witted to boot I’m going to quote it unchallenged and hope that nobody bothers to examine the data to find out just how this extraordinary figure was arrived at.
But now it’s properly named as the worst tragedy in matrimonial history. Vicars are up in arms, threatening to go on strike and agitating for better insurance, a monument to the tragic number of hours they have wasted presiding over marriages that end in divorce, and a fairer share of the spoils which mainly get divided up among photographers, wedding venue owners and caterers. Across the country many guests left weddings early, refusing to take part as a mark of respect for the dead, but the families of some brides and grooms were adamant weddings should go ahead, saying they paid as much as £60,000 for their weddings and felt robbed.
This is hubris. As weddings have become more commercial, marriage has moved away from a man and a woman cementing their love for one another in a simple ceremony, to a perfect metaphor for the contempt in which we hold the planet (which may sound like outrageous hyperbole to you, but I’m perfectly serious, and my editor agreed with me when we were wrestling naked in custard round his place last night).
It’s not simply about ordinary exploitation of wedding guests, which is soothed away by the knowledge that free champagne is being provided, and were the guests not invited they would probably be at home reading a book or sitting on the toilet crying about how lonely they are. Ordinary people have to live next door to married couples, who any minute could lose their grip on reality, kill each other then go on the rampage with a chainsaw (though not necessarily in that order). To get to church guests have to drive along busy roads where the chance of passing the scene of an accident is significant. Worse, guests often simply drive by accidents without even bothering to stop and help. Some even slow down to look at wrecked vehicles with a kind of macabre attraction. In 2006 as many as 40 vehicles passed a multiple pile up on the M4 without stopping. Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Everest, described it as “horrifying”, and he is right.
The question for those of us who don’t understand anything about rescues in dangerous situations is, can the dying be saved? Of course they can, and in the majority of cases they are: someone dials 999, the emergency services arrive, the victims are taken to hospital and they survive. In 2006 a rescue even took place which was reported in the media, when a huge American-led team hauled a man from a burning vehicle, and in 2012 I heard about another rescue taking place. Being entirely devoid of imagination, however, I’m unable to consider that people are often rescued or given lifts to church by passing motorists, most people drive safely anyway, and the few instances where the media go into a frenzy about fatal accidents are in fact outlying cases.
I yearn for the good old days, though. You know, when only those who were fit to do so got married, instead of nowadays when any Tom, Dick and Harry can. Before people started paying so much money for weddings. But more wannabe Romeos and Juliets claim “true love”, slaked by their own fantasies. Cancel a wedding? No, they paid too much. Madness indeed; I should know.
Many people reading this will say I’m only saying these things because I have little chance of getting married myself, and the reason for this is because I’m a vile, mean-spirited and insensitive toe-rag with all the personality of a slug with bubonic plague, who is only too eager to latch onto a tragedy he understands nothing about in order to peddle his own brand of unpleasant hate without considering whether the people he insults were affected or even traumatised by the tragedy he didn’t see but they did. I think that’s a bit harsh, though, and I will leave you the reader to make up your own mind. Now if you will forgive me I’m going home to drown myself in a bath of my own bile.
Thank you Tony for your forthright and enlightened views on this subject, all the more impressive when we consider that you know sod all about it. Next week’s guest blogger is the Dalai Lama, who will be telling us about how much he hates the new rule changes in Formula One motor racing.