first official step

We went to the Registry Office this morning….first a quick detour to run up the Castle Mound and prove we’re young and spry and can get our breath back in under five minutes (just) and then into the registry office; to lodge our ‘notice to get married’…an interesting experience. You both have to go into a room with a registrar and then one of you comes out and then the other goes in… basically you are questioned separately. It’s a bit like being dealt with by Scientologists, they start by removing the strong partner and try to crack the weaker. There were a couple of other people in the waiting room…one was possibly a mail order bride and the other a man whose intended didn’t seem to know what his job was and the registrar had to come out and ask him and see how foreign his accent was (very).

I felt quite smug that we’d get over all the ‘can we get married’ hurdles until I insisted Al leave the room first…once alone and under the spotlight I couldn’t remember the ‘actual’ date of Al’s birthday… I told the woman it was in that hazy period between Christmas and New Year and it was possibly the 30th… I then wavered and lumped for the 29th December (we then cleverly checked his passport to see if I passed that bit of the test).

It was a matter of proving, where we live: a passport, a utility bill/bank statement…kind officialdom done with a smile is almost worse than dour begrudgingness. Any dealing with officials nowadays makes me think somehow Big Brother will catch me out on a rule that I’ve broken that I didn’t know existed..everything connects on a computer somewhere… I half expected to ‘fail’ today because I once half inched some school milk back in 1973 or attended a poll tax demonstration in the 80s.

We also needed to show our decree absolutes from our previous marriages…mine luckily had my married double barrelled name on (as I’d forgotten to bring proof of name change ie. the deed poll wording I’d printed off the internet and got my neighbours to sign a couple of years ago). Paperwork done and on with the process…

What’s my occupation?

Housewife.

She stopped and looked at me… is that what you want on the form?

Yes.

Not homemaker or something? This is what is going on the actual marriage certificate.

No…I’m a housewife…or I suppose a ‘house-soon-to-be-wife’… I’m not American…so not a homemaker or even a domestic engineer.

Then I’m out into the waiting room whilst Al proves I’m not the only member of our duo who is a little hazy about birth dates… but it’s heartening (or terrifying) to note that it’s usually the ‘year’ of birth that more partners are confused about… that’s got to be linked to internet dating.

Anyway…once the registrar broke the news to Al that I’m older than the 22 years he was led to believe…it was time to pay – the amount stated on the sign on the wall was 35 quid each to give notice (I guess some people give notice alone and on Fridays they pair them up randomly for marriage on a Saturday and I wonder if some couples really insist on still going Dutch at this point?),another wodge for the wedding in advance and also a smaller wodge for a couple of certificates.  and then back out into the daylight…. we’d already proved how unfit we were on the way in so we skipped that attraction on the way out and I gave Al a lift to work.

As an aside..I was also not impressed with the signs about ‘forced marriage’ on the wall at the registry office… there was a contact number on there for victims of domestic violence – it was a womens’ refuge. There was no corresponding number for a mens refuge or non-gendered refuge for men who may be suffering from interpersonal violence… no number for the man being beaten by a partner or manipulated into marriage on the threat of not seeing his kids….or whatever.

Ach well…. I have to go and get Al from work now…I’ll make someone a lovely wife one day…

….soonish.

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