On the book tour for the paperback release of Mhairi McFarlane’s fabulously fun and hilarous book called ‘Who’s That Girl?’, I’ve a taster from the book, so sit back and enjoy.
‘Ladies and gentleman, sorry about the delay. . .’ said the groom into the microphone at last.
Jack’s slightly anaemic speech ticked off the things it was supposed to do, according to the internet cheat sheets. He said how beautiful the bridesmaids looked and thanked everyone for being there. He read out cards from absent relatives. He thanked the hotel for the hospitality and both sets of parents for their support.
When he finished with the pledge: ‘I don’t know what I did to deserve you, Charlotte. I will spend the rest of my life trying to make sure you don’t regret your decision today,’ Edie almost knocked back the flute of toasting champagne in one go.
The best man Craig’s speech was amusing in as much as it was horribly misjudged, with gag after gag about the varying successes of Jack’s sexploits at university. He seemed to think these tales were suitable because ‘We were all at it!’ and they were, ‘A bloody good bunch of chaps.’ (Jack went to Durham.) At the mention of a rugby game called ‘Pig Gamble,’ Jack snapped, ‘Perhaps leave that one out, eh?’ and Craig cut straight to, ‘Jack and Charlotte, everyone!’
The bride had a nervous fixed grin and her mum had a face like an arse operation.
Charlotte’s chief bridesmaid, Lucie, was passed the micro- phone.
Edie had heard much of the legend of Lucie Maguire, from Charlotte’s awed anecdotes in the office. She was a ruthlessly successful estate agent (‘She could sell you an outdoor toilet!’), mother of challenging twins who were expelled from pre-school (‘they’re extremely spirited’) and a Quidditch champion. (‘A game from a kid’s book,’ Jack had said to Edie. ‘What next, pro Pooh Sticks?’)
She ‘spoke as she found’ (trans: rude); ‘didn’t suffer fools gladly’ (rude to peoples’ faces) and ‘didn’t stand for nonsense’ (very rude to people’s faces).
Edie thought Lucie was someone you wouldn’t choose as your best friend unless there’d been a global pandemic extinc- tion event, and probably not even then.
‘Hello, everyone,’ she said, in her confident, cut-glass tones, one hand on her salmon silk draped hip: ‘I’m Lucie. I’m the chief bridesmaid and Charlotte’s best friend since our St Andrews days.’
Edie half expected her to finish this sentence: ‘BSc Hons, accredited by the NAEA.’
‘I’ve got a bit of a cheeky little surprise for the happy couple now.’
Edie sat up straighter and thought really? A wedding day surprise with no power of veto? Oof…
‘I wanted to do something really special for my best friend today and decided on this. Congratulations, Jack and Charlotte. This is for you.
Oh, and to make the song scan, I’ve had to Brangelina you as “Charlack”, hope that’s OK, guys.’
Song? Every pair of buttocks in the room clenched.
‘So, on one, two, THREE . . .’
The other two – blushing, literally – bridesmaids simultaneously produced handbells and started shaking them in sync. They wore the expressions of people who had come to terms with their fate a while ago, yet the moment was no less powerfully awful for it.
Lucie began singing. She had a good enough voice for a cappella, but it was still the shock of a cappella that was sending the whole room into a straight-backed, pop-eyed rictus of English embarrassment.To the tune of Julie Andrews’ ‘My Favourite Things’, she belted out:
Basset hounds and daffodils and red Hunter wellies Clarins and Clooney films on big HD tellies Land Rover Explorers all covered in mud These are a few of Charlack’s totes fave things!
Edie found it hard to comprehend that someone thought this fell into the category of a good idea.That there’d been no shred of doubt during the conceptual process. Also, ‘Charlack’ sounded like a Doctor Who baddie. A squirty one.
Cotswolds and cream teas and scrummy brunches Meribel and Formula One and long liquid lunches These are a few of Charlack’s totes fave things!
Fresh paint and dim sum and brow dyes and lashes Rugger and Wimbledon and also The Ashes These are a few of Charlack’s totes fave things!
Edie couldn’t risk her composure by glancing at Louis, who she knew would be almost combusting with delight. The top table simply stared.
. . . When the work bites!
When the phone rings!
When they’re feeling totes emosh
They can simply remember these totes fave things and then they won’t feel so grooosssssss
Edie held her expression steady as Lucie fog-horned the last word, arm extended, and hoped very hard this horror was over. But, no – Lucie was counting herself into the next verse.
In the brief lull, the hearing-aid man could be heard speaking to his wife.
‘What IS this dreadful folly? Who told this woman she could sing? My God, what an abysmal din.’
Lucie carried on with the next verse but now the room was transfixed by the entirely audible commentary offered by hearing-aid man. He apparently didn’t realise that he was shouting. Desperate shushing from the wife could also be heard, to no avail.
‘Good grief, whatever next. I came to a wedding, not an amateur night revue show. I feel like Prince Philip when he’s forced to look at a native display of bare behinds. Oh nonsense, Deirdre, it’s bad taste, is what it is.’
The spittle-flecked shhhhhhhh! of the spousal shushing reached a constrained hysteria, while laughter rippled nerv- ously around the room.
Edie could feel that Louis had corpsed, his whole body convulsing and shaking next to her.
Ad land and glad hand and smashing your goals Jet planes and chow mein with crispy spring rolls Tiffany boxes all tied up with ribbon
These are a few of Charlack’s totes fave thiiiinggssssss
‘. . .Will this ordeal ever end? No wonder this country’s in such a mess if this sort of vulgar display of your shortcomings is considered suitable entertainment.What?Well I doubt anyone can hear me over the iron lung yodellings of Kiri Te Canary. This is the sort of story which ends with the words, “Before Turning The Gun On Himself.”’
Edie didn’t know where to look. Having the heckler on her table made her feel implicated, as if she might be throwing her voice or feeding him lines.
Edie’s eyes were inexorably drawn to Jack, who was staring right back at her, palm clamped over mouth. His eyes were dancing with: what’s happening, this is insane?!
She might’ve known – he not only found this funny, he singled Edie out to be his co-conspirator. Edie almost smiled in reflex, then caught herself and quickly looked away. Oh no you don’t. Not today, of all days.
Just nipping to the loo, Edie muttered, and fled the scene.
Did that wee taster leave you bursting to know more? You can buy Who’s That Girl? from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.