Magandang hapon po.
Maligayang bati/ sa iyong kasal
For all you non-Tagalog-speakers out there, I wished the bride, “Good afternoon” and “Best wishes on your wedding.” Well, actually, that’s what I tried to say, but goodness knows what I really said. Anyhow, she’s still smiling, so I can’t have said anything too terrible!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
For ‘n iccasion…
For an occasion such as this I am supposed to say a few words about Jim. (Jim’s the Groom, by the way, for anyone who gate-crashed.)
I have to admit that I have not known Jim all that long as Best Men go. We didn’t grow up together or anything like that. In fact, I only met Jim about 5 years ago when he came along to the Hash. That’s the Hash House Harriers, world-wide running and drinking organisation, and nothing to do with the dreaded weed of the same name. On-on!
Of course, for a speech like this, one has to know a certain amount about the Groom, especially the more scurrilous and embarrassing facts. I decided in the end to make a few enquiries around his old haunts in Canterbury, England, where, as you may or may not know, Jim spent his undergraduate years. I thought it advisable to start with the local Police Station, more specifically the Vice Squad.
Strange as it may seem, they had nothing to say regarding his character, though they were forthcoming to this extent: whenever Jim stayed the night, he was the perfect guest!
By the way, have you looked at Jim recently? I mean really taken a good long look? He’s just grinning from ear to ear all the time. Frankly, I’m rather surprised his lower jaw hasn’t dropped off yet! It’s just possible that there is a connection with the cans and cans of energy drinks that I found in his fridge last night, whilst conducting further investigations – purely in the interests of knowledge, nothing to do with my liking for a certain amber fluid. “Red Bull gives you wings!”
I can’t say that Lyn looks unhappy, either. Every time I sneak a glance at her – and that’s often, she being quite as pretty as the proverbial picture – she’s radiating happiness and contentment to the extent that she positively glows.
I’m really impressed with how much they touch each other. I’ve got a sneaky feeling that if they get half a chance they might just fuse into one super-being! Seriously though, seeing Lyn and Jim being so affectionate with one another quite makes me envious. They are obviously very happy together, with the sort of happiness that we experience very rarely in life. If you ask me, they’re going to be very happy with each other for a very long time to come.
Anyhow, what about a few biographical facts? Google came to the rescue here!
James Watt, Scottish inventor and engineer, born in Greenock on the 19th of January 1736… That would make him 272 years old the month before last. He doesn’t look a day over a hundred, does he? I hope I look as good at his age!
But you really can’t believe everything you read on the internet, can you? Anyhow, I soon realised that it was a question of mistaken identity. The one I wanted was Richard James Watt, born in Kenya of Irish parents of Scottish descent. So you can see that he was a bit mixed up, long before he arrived in Nassau!
Jim grew up in Kenya with his younger brother John, and his parents Frances and Tom (Sadly Tom died in 1988), and completed his schooling there against a background of Mau-mau terrorism. Although things were fairly quiet in Eldoret, where they were, his Mum still tells tails of spending the evenings with a pistol in her lap.
In 1971 Jim went to England, to pursue a degree in electronics at Kent University in Canterbury graduating in 1974, with first class honours - in the study of local hostelries. I understand that he didn’t do quite so well in electronics.
He was considering, I am told, further studies in the area of “Bibulous Studies”(not to be confused with Bible Studies), but in the end decided to worship Mammon rather than Bacchus.
He worked for a number of companies, including Intel and Marconi, always in the field of computing and electronics. With Marconi, he spent a very productive 3 years in Saudi Arabia, brewing his own beer and wine, distilling his own spirits, and bussing in horny expatriate nurses from the local hospital.
This was not, of course, strictly in accordance with the teaching of the Holy Koran, not to mention the laws of Saudi Arabia, and at one point, Jim very nearly got himself carted off to gaol by an angry custom’s officer.
It seems that the honourable Western-Oriental Gentleman caught him smuggling Boot’s Best Essence of Gin into the country – by the crate load. Apparently Jim and his friends needed something to make their raw distillate a little more palatable.
The customs officer thought, of course, that the bottles he had found contained raw gin, completely forbidden in this strictly Muslim country.
Jim thought quickly, “Alcohol burns, doesn’t it?” he asked the customs officer. The agent agreed. “If I pour a bit of this out and it won’t light, will you let me off?” Again the customs officer agreed. Jim poured some out on to the table and set a match to it. There was tremendous “Woomf” and Jim was thrown backwards off his chair. The remarkable thing is that instead of being angry, the officer was seemingly delighted by Jim’s discomfiture and singed eyebrows. It seems he thought that no alcohol-smuggler could possibly be that stupid, and let Jim go. History does not record whether it was with or without his Essence of Gin.
Safely back in the UK, (where, incidentally, they have a special brand of particularly humourless customs officer), Jim eventually founded his own company. That was in 1985, and the company was called QA Training (the QA standing for “Quality Assured” – offering training for the burgeoning IT industry.
Jim had hit exactly the right spot at the right time. He worked very hard at his new business, and eventually built it up into the largest IT training company in the UK.
Showing again a remarkable flair for timing, he sold it at the peak of the market, in 1998. As a result he was able to retire to the Isle of White.
Somewhere along the way Jim had been married and had produced two lovely daughters, Laura (now 18) and Claire (now 14). Jim would dearly have loved them to be present today, but that has proved impossible.
Jim remained in retirement, or semi-retirement, in the Isle of White until he came out to the Bahamas about 5 years ago.
Now at last he was able to indulge his passions for Flying, Scuba-Diving, Muff-diving, Boating – oops, strike out muff-diving - and perhaps, most important of all, Hashing! We have yet to decide whether Jim is a Drinker with a running problem or a Runner with a drinking problem, since insufficient evidence of either has been forthcoming as yet, but the bride showed early promise at our Hash last Sunday, so once she has a kitchen knife in her hands we may see Jim moving a bit faster!
Joking aside though, I must say that I have always found Jim to be a good and gentle friend with a great warmth and generosity of spirit.
Turning aside now from the happy couple, there is perhaps one person above any other who made this love match possible, and to whom we are all deeply indebted, especially Jim and Lyn. I am referring, of course to Vicky, the beautiful sister of the bride. Stand up and blush, Vicky!
I would give you her full name but her new surname is unpronounceable. (In fact I am told that she is still having trouble with it! )
Vicky, née Ramirez, was married very recently herself – congratulations Vicky and Clyde. We all wish you every happiness!
Vicky, like many of her compatriots and many of us here today, came to the Bahamas in search of work and a brighter future for herself and her family back home.
By a strange quirk of fate, one of the people that she happened to meet was Jim, who chanced at some point to mention that he was in search of a bride.
Vicky needed no further prompting. She immediately thought of her sister back home in the Philippines, who had until then, not been the target of cupids attentions, although one can hardly understand why not, she being as beautiful as she is! After that, and with the help of the internet and a web cam, the rest is history, as they say.
So I want you all, ladies and gentlemen, to join with me in toasting Vicky, the bride’s sister and our matron of honour today.