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So if we could all raise our glasses… January 10, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

Quick! Someone write me a speech! Very naughtily, and only once the groom in question was sure I was making my way to the other end of the world in the most extravagant concession to marriage I’ve ever made in my life, I have now been informed that I am to be best man. What an utterly inappropriate epithet. Now I had worried I might be given the ‘honour’ of making sure I would do nothing at all for weeks but fret about having to make a hilarious speech in front of a group of strangers and had even suggested suitable alternative candidates for the job to the groom just in case he got any odd ideas. Well, those suggestions have been flagrantly ignored and I have been informed that it falls to me to not only bankrupt myself by flying to the other end of the world when I have a Russian and, er, no children to support but will also have the ignominy of losing the rings and humiliating myself by making poor jokes with a big piece of lettuce sticking out of my teeth, a dodgy suit and a ludicrous haircut. And I’ll probably have a sniff. Or trip as I get to my feet. Or be drunk. Oh woe is me.

Not that I’m getting flustered about this, you understand. Well, I have been worried someone would ask me to be their best man for about 35 years. Oh god, I suppose there’s even a chance gay friends can ask now. Haram! Oj gevalt! Neeeeeeiiiiiin! But then what if I like it? What if I get up, discover it’s actually bliss speaking in front of a captive audience, culturally obliged to laugh at jokes I make about the utterly unknown sexual past of the groom and amusing little anecdotes about the bride’s idiosyncrasies – I don’t suppose New Zealanders will be that amused with stories of how amusing I find her accent. I know no other idiosyncrasies – and get into a roll and speak for 45 minutes and decide to take up a career in stand-up comedy? (Is there English-language stand-up comedy in Berlin?) And then all sorts have been best men. I’ve witnessed some pretty appalling speeches in my time and could hardly imagine I’d do far worse. I definitely won’t mention prostitutes or masturbation, as I’ve heard done more than once. I don’t think I’ll go down the ex-girlfriend route. (I only know one, and she’s still a good pal.) So what else is left? Reading out telegrams? (Do folk still send telegrams?) (By ipod, perhaps?) Thanking the bridesmaids? (If there are any.) Thanking the person playing the Bontempi organ? Thanking everyone for coming and subtly reminding them all how far I’ve travelled? Or does the groom do the thanking?

Knowing I might girl’s-blouse out, the groom has told me it’s all going to be such an informal affair that I don’t even HAVE TO make a speech, but that would be wank, wouldn’t it? And I’ve seen the role carried out well. Our Germanic cousins are the best at wedding speeches in my limited experience. I’ve been to weddings in Finland, Denmark and a half-German affair in Belgium and even though I could hardly understand a word of what was said at the Scandy-unions, you knew the speeches were good and there was not a sniff of onanism or paying for sex anywhere. And, anyway, Germanic weddings are a free-for-all on the speech front, so it’s no big deal. Old friends get up and say a few words, or even do a bit of a sketch. The only French wedding I’ve been to was speech-free. No, only ‘Anglo-Saxon’ – to be French about it – weddings seem to have formalised the speech-troika of bride’s father, groom and best man.

So all suggestions gratefully accepted. Both for content and style. And length. And everything else. I suppose I should be thankful that I’ve only got to worry about this for a little over two weeks. It should also be enough time for you life-rich bloggers to save my bacon and tell me PRECISELY how to behave.



1. Anonymous - January 10, 2006

You have the right idea. All I can think of is things not to do: Not to leave the guests squirming seems to me to be the main thing. And if you’re not too long it won’t be too boring. And also as long as it is about the groom and bride and not just a we got pissed with him x times affair.

What about the buck’s night? Is that part of your duties? The best one I went to involved caving followed by champagne, chocolate and some words about the groom to candlelight in a giant cavern. From what I’ve heard the poms seem to spend up big, but the Antipodes’ seem to be quieter affairs, though at least as much alcohol of course.

2. Wyndham the Triffid - January 10, 2006

My god, I don’t envy you there, Bib. The last wedding I went to the Best Man got absolutely slaughtered on about 18 pints and ended his speech by calling the bride a “bike.” I certainly wouldn’t recommend that. I* do believe there’s some internet site – there always is, isn’t there? – which gives tips on this kind of thing. But don’t believe that rubbish about not having to make a speech if you don’t want to.

Make it good. But no pressure.

3. BiB - January 10, 2006

Gosh, I’d forgotten about pre-wedding duties. You’re right, Anon of the Antipodes, pom stag affairs are now ludicrously extravagant, and usually involve an aeroplane. Having said that, the only one I’ve been to, 700 (or thereabouts) gentlemen in Barcelona, was lovely. But so extravagant.

Wynders, you are, inevitably, right. To my shame, I have google ads on this site, which have, it goes without saying, never earned me a penny. ABER, when I opened this entry to see your comment, the ads were for best man speeches! Well, I don’t know what they can teach me. I think I might try and wing it. (Is that the expression?) Hopefully not be slaughtered, get up and say how chuffed to bollocks I am for the couple and propose a toast. A bit of a let-down, perhaps, but I’m just too nervous a type to do otherwise. Unless, of course, I have a Wynders-does-someone-else’s-best-man-speech rant to quote verbatim…

4. Anonymous - January 11, 2006

A couple of sure tips for the speech to win a kiwi audience on side:

. bag the Aussies (you could even mention the underarm bowling incident by Chappell – check google for details if its fame didnt reach Europe)
. the old chestnut of kiwis migrating to Australia raising the average IQ of both countries might be fine
. bag the Aussies again
. no sheep jokes


5. leon - January 11, 2006

I’ve only ever been to one stag do, which ended with most of the participants pissed on a boat. It was good, in its own way, though contrary to the spirit of things I did rather end up wishing there were some girls present.

If I ever have to organise one (highly unlikely) I’ll make sure it’s something really fun, like the entire stag party being air-dropped into the middle of the Yemen with only some poor-quality barter goods to keep them going. I always thought Iceland might be a good laugh, actually.

6. Bren - January 12, 2006

EiNY has a wonderful set of ideas. I think he would agree with me, however, when I say (in response to your blog), do NOT bag the bride.

7. BiB - January 12, 2006

Bren, EINY’s ideas are printed out and sitting next to me. I’m waiting to combine his advice with some inspiration and hoping the thing will then write itself. I just have to stock up on my anti-Australian jokes, it would seem…

Leon, I’ve got a feeling I might get off scot-free on the stag front as I only arrive a week before the wedding and it’s probably too short notice to suggest the groom and his pals all fly to Europe for a quick weekend and plus I don’t know any of the groom’s NZ pals anyway so wouldn’t know whom to invite.

But, more importantly even than weddings and stags, I didn’t know Yemen was THE Yemen, à la the Gambia, the Ukraine, the Argentine, the Punjab and the like. Marvellous. I do like a random yet stylish definite article every now and again.

8. BerlinBear - January 16, 2006

I’m not sure that the Yemen Is the Yemen at all. I reckon it’s just Yemen. And I thought that the Ukrainians were insisting that from now on the Ukraine is just Ukraine, since the “the” was only inserted by the Soviets to imply that it was and had only ever been a territory, rather than a proper country. I thought the switch to just Ukraine was part of their turn towards Europe, casting off the yoke of Russia blah blah blah. Of course, you have a Russian to check that with…

9. Blonde at Heart - October 4, 2006

In Arabic “Yemen” is indeed THE Yemen. So is THE Iraq. And THE India. And a whole host of other countries.

10. BiB - October 4, 2006

Berlin Bear, it’s true there’s a difference in Russian regarding Ukraine. Not in the word, but in the preposition you use beforehand to say in. In the old days, it used to be “на” (at, I suppose), implying Ukraine was less than a country. Now, there’s a move towards straightforwardly in-meaning “в”, which I always use, and I am always then corrected by Russians, but I stand my ground.

BAH, I suppose that must be why some folk say the Yemen, then, though there doesn’t seem to be much consistency.

11. Don’t work, just blog « BiB - November 21, 2006

[…] Actually, I have to thank a bit of comment spam for prompting me herewards as it was sent to the best man’s speech post from a while back and I need to say a few post-speech thank-yous.Well, first of all, I want to thank my mom and my dad… No, I don’t. What bollocks am I talking? I’ll leave that sort of thanking to Gwyneth, blubbing and all. No, I want to thank my intuition for dashing to the internet in times of crisis and putting out a bloggerly SOS for a bit of speechy advice. Pavvers, you really did save my bacon with this post. Not only was it printed out and taken to the other end of the world, it rocked me to sleep in the panic-stricken nights as the duty drew near. As I thought to myself, “I dunno what to do, I dunno what to do,” your words calmed me down and lulled me into an utterly false but necessary sense of security. By the time the big day drew near, I had your 11-step guide down to a t (and my speech off by heart, as you recommended. I had a cheat-sheet just in case but it got barely a glance). And I also want to thank all the people who commented on this post, especially anonymous Jon, who, I think, is a Kiwi in Australia. I followed your advice more closely than you might care to believe a blogger should, and it worked a treat. I went for a pretty unsalacious brand of speech in the end. Genitalia didn’t even get a look-in. And it was all received okayly enough. (But I won’t give up the day-job.) (Once I find a day-job.) (Plus I should thank all children present in the audience who laughed throughout anyway.) […]

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