On a par with the hardest word

Date: 22nd July 2021

Our latest SFSA blog from Donald Stewart.

“Wedding planning has never been easy…

Since the scenes in that Hollywood film with Steve Martin did the rounds, Mr. McArthur has been inundated with Bridezillas and impossible requests.

But for today he has now to work out how many can attend for people in Dumbarton, Stenhousemuir and Maryhill. It is a conundrum…

Picture the scene…

Mr. McArthur is in his room, scratching his head at head office in the East End of Dunfermline; it’s an impressive rebuilt industrial park. He has three bookings over three weekend to organise in one pile, and the latest Scottish Government advice in another.

His right hand, Mr. Grant is trying to lend a hand.

So far, Mr. McArthur wishes he was all alone.

Mr. Grant begins with, “Why don’t we start with the first one in Dumbarton?”

Mr. McArthur looks up from his desk and scowls. “Now why didn’t I think of that?” He sarcastically asks.

Mr. Grant is oblivious to criticism. Since his arrival from a similar firm in Alloa he has been keen, but little use, according to Mr. McArthur.

Unabashed, Mr. Grant continues. “We have the date, let’s look at the advice. Now, this looks like it shall be the smallest. We are restricted to family only, aren’t we?”

Mr. McArthur stares in incredulity as he responds, “Aye! We are.”

“Right,” continues Mr. Grant. “So, given that it is Dumbarton and there are three extended families with two stepdads, an uncle nobody wants there because of what he did at grandma’s 30th birthday, we can deal with that quite easily, can we not?”

Mr. McArthur perks up. “We can?” he asks.

Mr. Grant points to the numbers. “There. That’s what they are allowed so email them.”

Mr. McArthur does so with a flourish.

Mr. Grant smiles and wonders why it has taken so long. This is easy peasy. “Next,” he continues. “Stenhousemuir. We can do a lot at Stenhousemuir.”

“We can?” asks Mr. McArthur.

“Aye, remember, very small family, not wanting a fuss, registry wedding with the bride going into the maternity to be induced the day after. Father is a bairn himself whilst she is frae Kirkcaldy. Aw hush, hush.”

Mr. McArthur remembers the consultation well. It had to be held in a pub in Dundee with nobody else in the room in the midst of the last lockdown. Face masks on, social distancing and ventilation that included keeping the grills on the bars of the windows open.

“So,” says Mr. Grant. “There is the figure. Email them and we shall probably be looking at less than half of that for the big day.”

Mr. McArthur emails but starts to wonder why this has been so easy. He had spent hours on this and now Mr. Grant is doing it in minutes.

Surely there cannot be something fundamentally wrong…

“Finally,” says Mr. Grant with a flourish. “Maryhill. That’s the one that we shall struggle to cater for.”

“Oh aye,” responds Mr. McArthur. He remembers this very well. Fifteen emails per day about smashed avocado on toast with chilli oil for starters followed by hand caught scallops and six vegan alternatives involving ingredients he, and his chef had never heard of.

“That’s the same as Stenhousemuir! Easy! Same email, different addresses. All done!”

Mr. McArthur sends the final email as Mr. Grant stands to leave and continue his day. Having left the office, that nagging doubt begins to creep back into Mr. McArthur’s mind. No matter, he thinks, Shirley in the office will be pleased when he tells her that they have now dealt with all three thorny issues that had kept them both up all night for weeks.

Just at that she enters. He smiles with a flourish says, “Those three weddings are sorted, Shirley.”

“They are?!”

Her surprise catches him out.

“Yes, they are,” he responds.

“The three in the town from Dumbarton, Stenny and Maryhill?”

The penny drops. “Here?” He enquires. “They are happening here. In Dunfermline?”

“Aye.” Shirley looks at him. “That was all the fuss. You had to wait until the Scottish Government announced what levels we would be in before you could inform them of numbers allowed for their ceremonies. If I remember the only one that really had a problem wi that was the Maryhill one. The noise made when ye tellt them. I have never seen a grown man cry like that!”

Mr. McArthur turns away from her to hide his embarrassment as he notices, from his office window, Mr. Grant getting into his car.

For how long, he wonders, shall we be seeing that site in the car park…

Just then his email lights up with three very confused messages, one of which, from Stenhousemuir, includes some kind of threat which he is sure is physically impossible. He smiles weakly and nods his head at Shirley. “I have tae have a wee lie down the now,” he tells her.

She leaves, he types apologies and then has that wee lie down…

Whilst the author asserts his right to this as an original tale, there is no evidence that the manager Mr. Grant or chair Mr. McArthur of Dunfermline Athletic have ever organised a wedding in Dunfermline, Maryhill, Stenhousemuir OR Dumbarton so this is clearly fictional.

The fact is that the Scottish Government guidance over crowd sizes at games has been described as being rather confusing. One club which was finding it all a bit difficult was Dunfermline Athletic, who sent out confusing messages due to the advice they were given for three games! It’s a testing time for us all…”

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