An old school friend of mine lives in Bruges, in Belgium, and through him I got to know a good circle of people, all very nice, laid back and friendly, but not what you might call 'the beautiful people'. ‘The Nerd Crew’ maybe more accurate.
Anyway, one of them is a Swedish girl called Thoren. She's been looking for love all her life, is 41 and finally meets someone special.
We (the whole crowd, including partners) are all really pleased and when we receive an invitation to her wedding party in Bruges we are really excited for her, and for the trip.
My wife and I arrived at the party shortly after most people, at around 8pm, in a nice, big laid back bar right on a canal bank. The bar was set back and there was a decking area outside by a long towpath that disappeared under beautiful bridges.
After a fairly standard evening of being accused of fancying barmaids, passers by and even a towpath horse, we're pretty settled into a booth at the back of the bar.
Thoren, the bride, is wearing her wedding dress so all the guests could see what she looked like on the family wedding day 1 week previous.
She gave a short speech thanking everyone for coming, and because my wife and I had given her a nice present, a weekend in a friend's B&B in the south of France, she gave us a special mention.
When she mentioned us though, she pronounced Louise a bit oddly, and it sounded more like Lisa (just picture a strong Scandinavian accent purring “Loooisa”).
So, after I removed my beloved's nails from my forearm, we carried on with the evening, until we both end up in the booth, tipsy, tired and happy.
At this point, things start to go a little awry. My wife turns to another couple sitting near us and says "Do you think Thom has fucked Thoren?"
We'd met them that evening.
The guy looks at her and laughs, thinking it's a joke, and I laugh politely, tensing my buttocks as I pray for the moment to pass.
"What the fuck are you laughing at? You know he has, don't you???"
The guy is from Belgium and, to his credit, he's very polite and says something like "look, don't be silly, let's just have a drink and enjoy the night".
Bitter experience and the sight of my wife leaping up and heading for the bride at the other side of the room tells me we are rather past 'enjoying the night.'
By the time I reach her, she's enthusiastically telling the bride's rather reserved father that his daughter is a 'whore, cocksucker, slut and has fucked all the men in the bar, including my husband!’
I don't know much Swedish so my limp apology didn't seem enough at this point.
She then turns to me and screams "you fucking bastard, you're always doing this to me..."
Before I can begin to calm her down she's running from the bar, and along the towpath.
All the guests are now watching her running, at quite some pace, down the canal path, away from the wedding party.
While I am fed up by this point, I feel it is my duty to look out for her. A friend stops me running after her and says "just let her calm down mate, don't chase her. She’ll be back."
So I stand with him at the edge of the decking, and out of the corner of my right eye I notice the bride's bewildered father walking towards me. I turn around to follow his gaze just as I see my wife leap from the low canal bridge, fully clothed, with trademark scream, into the very cold, dark and shallow canal.
The splash was surprisingly loud. Most of the guests (about 100) were by now with us on the decking, the stragglers arriving just in time for her finale, which was to swim to a shallow part of the canal, kneel in the 18 inch-deep water and scream "Thom" at the top of her voice.
Good Belgian beer though.
Yes, I did have to fish her out of the canal, and walk her home, past the guests, who were all clapping.
A big German guy had written a ‘6’ on the back of a table mat and was holding it up.
Fair score, I thought.