Best Man’s Speech

“Four score and seven years ago, our forefathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to...” sorry, wrong speech.

Kind, intelligent, witty, compassionate, warm-hearted. These are just some of the adjectives that I’ve come to associate with Dave over the half-decade or longer that I’ve had the privilege to call him my friend; at least, those are some of the more family-friendly adjectives. Joanna, I’ve known longer than Dave, first getting to know her since she used to sit across the bench from me in first year maths lectures. Even then, when I only knew her in passing, she struck me as intelligent, kind and compassionate, suspicions that have been more than confirmed in the intervening time. Fast forward a year or two, and whether by weeks of carefully planning (which is what Dave says) or just by accident (what Jo says), Dave’s wooing is successful and the rest is, as they say, history. The resulting gestalt entity, like two heavy hydrogen atoms fusing in a nuclear reaction, has been a joy to behold.

At this point, I believe that it’s considered traditional to interject with a witty and embarrassing story about the groom. However, I’ve had three problems with this. Firstly, it’s been remarkably difficult to find suitable material. Dave’s just a level-headed and sensible kind of guy. When he’s not rolling dice and hitting things with a big axe, that is. After much searching, I finally found that there are limits to his level-headedness – like the time that he put Joanna’s socks in a microwave oven to dry them. The end of the story depends on who you talk to. One version results in a charred sock with a small hole in it, the other in a fire that shorted out the electrics in the whole flat. The former may be more likely to be true, but the latter is funnier.

The second problem is that some of my favourite stories are just incredibly obscure or context-sensitive. I mean, I find the “Jabber handshake” joke hilarious, but there’s maybe a half-dozen people in this room that might get it, and less that would find it funny. And as for the "Human Slaves, in an Insect Nation" joke, well, that’s just silly.

The third problem that I had was that, even when I was able to obtain suitable stories, I have an over-developed sense of morality, making it difficult to tell some of them. After a brief battle with my conscience, we came to a compromise that allows both of us to retain our dignity. So, if you want to hear the one about the tickling and the accidental self-kicking, speak to Morag Coulter; if you want to hear the one about the boy on a bicycle, speak to Dave’s Auntie Mo; and if you want to hear the one about the White Horse Inn, speak to Dave’s sister Dawn.

Now, the arcane, unwritten laws and traditions that govern occasions such as this apparently forbid me from toasting the happy couple themselves. However, said laws and traditions don’t seem to say anything about blessings, so here’s a traditional Irish blessing for the bride and groom:

“May Joy and Peace surround you / Contentment latch your door / And Happiness be with you now / And bless you evermore.
“May your troubles be less / And your blessings be more / And nothing but happiness / come through your door.”

And finally, can you raise your glasses to the health of those without whom we literally wouldn’t be gathered here today: the parents of the bride and groom.

Thank you.