My fiancé and I arrived at the remote mountain hall a week in advance and made preparations, decorating the stage, practising our swing-outs, hanging hammocks, setting light to dead trees, marinading. The guests arrived on Friday afternoon in twos and threes and fours and they sorted themselves and sat down for olives and chatter while some local accordionists with huge moustaches played Krautrock covers. That evening we didn’t do much, allowing everyone to get to know each other and rehearse if they wanted. Then, Saturday morning, after a breakfast of blinis, we all went swimming down at the spring. We covered ourselves in clay, baking in the sun until tight and crackly, then dived in the deep rock pool.
We played some running around games; electric man-hunt, stick-in-the-mud, ding-dong-zombie, moon-garden, vortex badminton and association solar-flares. The kids taught us how to play bomb-boy and crazy-snakes.
Saturday evening was the floor-show. Sam was master of ceremonies, splendid in his top hat and tails. He introduced all the acts that guests had prepared, Larry set himself on fire and sang Wagner; Mary, Maya, Kim and some kids on washer-boards played a few thumping rags while hanging from the ceiling; some clumsy sketches, tight-harmony a-capella renditions of CBGB standards and plenty of impro classics (Animal Expert, Death in a Minute and the old Master-and-Servant Double-Header). Uncle Tony had a good party trick…
Falton then taught us the first few basic steps of the waltz and we finished the evening in disco.
After a lie in and late breakfast, all seventy of us, and three donkeys, went down to the spring in our midday finery. Old Peter presided over the ceremony. We swore, my wife and I, to walk slowly, rid ourselves daily of the restless tenant and throw ourselves with hopeless perilous passion into the raw and the glorious. I said I would give up my hankering for independence, love her straight even when she was emotional, and she said she would softly shatter my crystal systems into sweet smithereens, learn the bassoon and brew my tea properly; not just bash a bag about in the cup until the water was dark. Then we kissed each other and swapped rings. And then the whole congregation had a fight and dived in the spring which was so cold it forced the water from our lungs and made us wretched.
That night we all dressed up as gods and monsters, Falton, in his bunny-suit, gave us our second waltz lesson and, in ripped silk frocks and antlers and floppy dog-ears and frock-coats and hooves, to the rancid sound of the accordion, smokey hammond and liquid flute; we waltzed. We circled the large oak hall all night, moonlit with fireflies; and we are circling it still.