Love’s Labour’s Blog

This Sunday is our wedding anniversary, and will mark twelve years to the day since my wife said ‘oh, go on then, if there’s really no one else who will have you’.

We were married in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Norwich, on 31st July 2004, and for those of you unaware of this particular church, here are some pictures:

As you can imagine, for a shy and reserved twenty-four year old, who was at the time nervous about a great many things, least of all getting married in front of a huge mass of people, this building scared the living shit out of me. So much so, that on the brief walk up to the church, from the guest house where I had stayed the night before, I had to stop off at a pub for a swift half to steady my nerves. Well, I knew she’d be late anyway, so where was the harm?

Sure enough, she was late, although she repeatedly reminds me that this was not actually her fault. In fact, she was trying to speed up her departure from home, for the very reason that she knew I would be stressing if she wasn’t there on time. The situation, and my increasing anxiety, was not helped by my Nan, who kept nudging me in the back to suggest that perhaps my bride to be was not going to show up at all.

But show up she did. Better still, she didn’t turn and run at any point throughout the ceremony (although in light of the length of her train, I suspect running was out of the question anyway) and, within an hour or so, we were husband and wife.

Every year since, we have tried to mark the occasion by buying gifts based on the traditional wedding anniversary list (as her parents have always done), and I have often been quite pleased with my inventiveness in the face of some challenging themes. Ok, a few of the early gift genres were a little unusual, but at least they gave me an idea to work with.

For example, the traditional gift for your second wedding anniversary is cotton, and I managed to find a fancy boutique hotel in Manchester, which was historically a cotton mill, and which had retained a great many of its original features.

Then, for our fourth anniversary, the theme was ‘fruit and flowers’, and I found a lovely little pub in the Lakes called ‘The Orange Tree’.

In ‘Season 9’ (sometimes, I like to refer to our years together as if they were DVD box sets), I outdid even my own high standards. The theme was ‘pottery’, and whilst I initially thought of taking her to Stoke for the day, I very quickly realised that this would most likely end in divorce, so I had the ingenious idea of visiting the Harry Potter Studios tour near London. Clever, huh?

However, either the list makers started to run out of ideas by the time they got to double figures, or they didn’t expect people to have kept up with the tradition beyond ten years or so (‘look, no one will still be doing this by their tenth anniversary, so just stick ‘tin’ down and let’s go to the pub, for fuck’s sake’), because the last few years have been a struggle.

And, if we thought tin was rather unusual for our 10th anniversary, last year’s theme got really ridiculous – steel. Yes, you read that correctly, steel. Surely the most romantic of all the iron-based metal alloys, no?

What was I going to do for that, take her for a romantic weekend in Sheffield? No offence to the people of Sheffield, but if I wasn’t taking her to Stoke, I was hardly going to take her to Sheffield either. In the end, I just nicked her a bunch of flowers (‘ohhhhh, I get it now. You meant steel….’)

I wonder whether, having already included the likes of silver and gold for the more significant milestones, the list makers ever came close to considering the rest of the periodic table for anniversary gift ideas. After all, nothing says ‘I love you’, like a highly toxic chunk of Beryllium, made into a pretty – yet deadly – pendant.

In fact, the possibilities within the periodic table are vast (if a little harmful). Just imagine the novelty card accompanying the gift:

When you became my wife

It’s fair to say I was thrilled

So here is some lovely Polonium

I got from a spy who was killed

This year, we are faced with the prospect of ‘silk’, and, despite the obvious choices – tie for me, and something saucy and revealing for…. well, me again – we’ve been a bit stumped. I won’t reveal what I’ve bought her, as that will ruin the (hugely underwhelming) surprise before Sunday, but, love, if you’re reading this, don’t get your hopes up, ok?

If we can stay together for the foreseeable future, I am particularly dreading ‘ivory’ for our fourteenth anniversary (on the basis illegal elephant-poaching is generally frowned-upon these days) and ‘opal’ for our twenty-fourth year together (she’s sure as hell not getting a European-imported Vauxhall – yes, I know that’s spelt Opel, but work with me here – so I’ll most likely have to resort to buying her a family-size pack of Starburst).

To be honest, much as it has been fun to come up with original ideas over the years, I feel the entire list needs a bit of modernisation, certainly up to the twenty-fifth anniversary (after which, the gifts are more sensible – Silver (25th), Pearl (30th), Ruby (40th), Gold (50th), Diamond (60th) and Casket (70th) – ok, that was in poor taste).

So, with that in mind, here is my suggested overhaul of the list, to offer a more ‘modern’ gift choice for the first twenty-four years of marriage:

  1. Chocolate
  2. After shave / perfume
  3. CDs
  4. Alcohol
  5. Jewellery / Watch
  6. Books
  7. DVDs
  8. Clothes
  9. A subscription to a magazine
  10. A ‘free-pass’ for one night (ideally, Holly Willoughby for me, Dan Snow for her, subject to availability and pending restraining orders)
  11. Tickets to see a band that neither of you can believe are still touring
  12. Pic ‘n’ Mix (one of those big, cinema-style, ‘as much as you can fucking cram in’ tubs)
  13. Gift vouchers
  14. A nice framed picture of the two of you, back when you were happy
  15. A child-free holiday
  16. Pants and socks
  17. A board game with a hilarious novelty theme
  18. Something for around £20 from Amazon
  19. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
  20. Viagra
  21. Biscuits
  22. Blankets
  23. Slippers
  24. Vitamin supplements

This way, everyone knows where they stand, and gets something they actually need at that point in their marriage / life.

Oh, and by all means feel free to adopt this list within your own relationships, and send me photographs of you enjoying your gifts…..

… unless it happens to be your twentieth anniversary this year, in which case I’m good, thanks.