Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Monday, 7 October 2013

An honourable estate?

(Warning; this post may contain material of an emetic nature.)

It appears there is a growing trend for readings from children's books at weddings.

Instead of the traditional chapters from the scripture of choice, some couples are now opting for picture books like 'The Velveteen Rabbit' or 'Guess How Much I Love You', or a rendition of 'The Owl and the Pussycat'.

According to the Director of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (a job description that surely entitles the holder to speedy boarding for the Golgafrinchan B-Ark):
"That's the big thing with weddings now... it's about [the couple's] personalities. They're trying to choose readings that are easy to understand, that are fun to read and fun to listen to and just bring a smile to people's faces."
It seems rather odd, somehow, that at the point of making what should surely be an adult and mature commitment, couples should be looking for something 'easy' and 'fun'; even if the sacred texts no longer apply, one would hope for an expression of rather more profundity than "I love you all the way down the lane as far as the river".

While religious readings will not suit everyone (and, to be honest, some of St Paul's opinions do raise a few hackles these days), surely there is something out there among the vast canon of serious fiction or and philosophy that expresses the requisite sentiments in words of more than one syllable.

The BBC helpfully lists some of the popular choices:
Guess How Much I Love You (Sam McBratney)
The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
Winnie-the-Pooh (AA Milne)
The Velveteen Rabbit (Margery Williams)
The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
Oh The Places You'll Go (Dr Seuss)
While some of these do at least have a modicum of dignity, it's difficult to see how the (supposedly) lifelong mutual commitment of two adults could be appropriately celebrated with that last one:
Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!
One of the reasons put forward is that the inclusion of picture books allows the couple's children to play a part (which does rather seem to be putting the cart before the matrimonial horse), but it seems likely that these 'easy' readings are also symptoms of a malaise afflicting increasing numbers of the population.

In a society where cartoon characters advertise such grown-up products as insurance or estate agencies and adults are expected to spend on toys and games for themselves as well as their children, it's hardly surprising that the institution of marriage itself is becoming trivialised. In the words of one bride, who chose 'The Owl and the Pussycat',
"It was just an opportunity to make everybody smile and something that was familiar to them and also was quite evocative with the imagery in it, and also I'm a huge cat fan."
In the glare of the digital age, that 'ghastly public confession of a strictly private intention' has become a painstakingly costumed and choreographed performance inspired by merchandising, magazines and celebrity culture. The enormity of the undertaking represented by marriage vows has, for many, been eclipsed by the desire to put on a show.

It's all in keeping with the superficial media-led aspirations of this generation. As Dr Seuss has taught us to say:
With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!...
Fame! You'll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV!

9 comments:

  1. When adults voluntarily walk around in babygrows, you know all is lost.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good point, Bucko; I thought things couldn't get worse than jeggings, treggings and Uggs but they evidently could - even the word 'onesie' is revoltingly infantile.

    A quick google produced this horrific amalgamation of the post and your comment; surely that world-ending asteroid is long overdue...

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ONESIE-NATION-Personalised-Bride-and-Groom-Adult-Onesies-Wedding-Gift-His-Hers-/140988279526

    ReplyDelete
  3. Golgafrinchan B-Ark

    What colour was it?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ah, JH, you know I can't answer that until the working party has collated the data from the focus groups and reported back to the steering committee.

    ReplyDelete
  5. XX Bucko The Moose said...

    When adults voluntarily walk around in babygrows, you know all is lost.

    XX

    Thought they called them "Track suits" these days?

    ReplyDelete
  6. FT, if this online query is anything to go by, the onesie has yet to make an appearance on your streets (lucky you!):

    "Hallo, ich wollte mir einen ONESIE kaufen, aber ich finde keine vertrauenswürdige Seite, die nach Deutschland liefert"

    The ebay link should give you an idea of what you are missing - though I take no responsibility if it makes you throw up.

    ReplyDelete
  7. FFS! And 92 Quid!!

    No matter, I guess the tax payer will be financing these, through dole payments as well.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You know the treouble with these "fashions"?

    Everybody is either "To nice"/P.C/namby pamby/Scared of ending up in court for "Insultin me innit"/ or of getrting their faces rearanged. to turn around and take the piss out of these bastards every time they show their faces in public.

    If one morning, outside Walmart, or wherever chavs go these days, EVERY single person that was NOT a Walmart chav, all pointed at them an shouted "Look at that fucking toss pot! WTF does it think it looks like in that shite!!" Then procedd to fall about pointing and laughing, the chavs would soon get fed up of it.

    ReplyDelete