Life, Living, Becoming...
Gerry Coughlan

 Till Death do us ...

One of my many aunties was getting married. I had lots. My mom had 11 brothers and sisters and my dad, 7. Even taking into account the 3 nuns on my dad's side, that was a lot of cousins and now that I think of it, it must have been a nightmare at Christmas for all the aunts and uncles.

Anyway, this one was getting married to a guy from a rough part of town. He was a great guy but 5 minutes after he'd put a new suit on, he looked like he'd been dragged through a hedge backwards.

The reception was held at a hotel in the centre of town. Well, I say hotel but I mean a place that made most of its money in the bar, with a room large enough to hold 100 people for a reception. That's right, I remember, it was called the North Star Hotel.

So, we all filed in and seated ourselves at the tables. Our side of the family were very much the spectators and his were all in 'performance mode'. It was obviously their local hangout and they were showing off: shouting across the room at each other and drinking before the food arrived.

Now the room was long and narrow and towards the end, near the stage there was a weird drop in the ceiling, like the room above had a sunken section. It went right across the width of the room and looked like, if you were a bit taller than me, you could've stood on a table and touched it.

The food arrived and some time after the speeches started and the good luck telegrams were being read, an almighty roar started and got louder and louder. It was like an earthquake or a hurricane. The dishes on the tables were shaking and the best man had raised his voice to a shout:


A round of applause but I only saw the hands banging together, you could hardly hear them.
Well the roar died down and no one seemed even half concerned when every half an hour the earth shook and the dishes threatened to break on the floor.

"Ah, don't be worried about the trains, that dip in the ceiling's part of the railway bridge" says one of his brother's. "If it wasn't a Saturday, they'd be along every 10 minutes instead of every half hour".

I think it was the first time I got really drunk. I was about 14 and sat quietly in a corner throwing back the Harp lager like it was lemonade.

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