82. Wedding bells fall silent on the Sick Bay

I’ve enjoyed all the weddings I have done in the Sick Bay but the one I did on Saturday will be the last one ever. If you’ve got an interesting old vehicle it’s hardly surprising that you feel flattered to be asked to take part in a bride’s big day. The Sick Bay is an ideal wedding car because it is quite cute but let’s be honest, it’s got sirens and flashing lights and that’s what everyone loves. Obviously the bride is centre stage but your dear old bus becomes one of the key backdrops and will feature forever in someone’s wedding album. Bit of an ego trip really.

So why have I decided never again?

Joy has decorated the bus and I am suited and booted. (Don’t suppose we’ll be seeing that suit anymore now)

There are three big reasons. The first is that you need to be insured for weddings and I am not. I have only done four and each was a one off, supposedly, so I never bothered. I have been very lucky that this has not been a problem so far but I don’t want to push it. Secondly, most people plan their weddings a long way in advance and that means the date is set in stone. Your freedom wagon is no longer free on that date. The biggest thrill I got from being retired is the amazing sense of freedom you suddenly have and I find that I guard that quite jealously.

The third reason is probably the big one. This is that a bride’s wedding is going to be the biggest day of her life. Nothing can go wrong. If you’re the driver you’ve got a big load on your shoulders, and mine are not so broad these days.

On Saturday I had agreed to pick up the bride from her house in Hazel Grove, take her and her dad to the Registry Office in Stockport. Then wait outside while the ceremony takes place and finally take the happy couple to a country pub just outside the town for the reception. What could go wrong?

Well firstly they closed the A6 which is the main road to Hazel Grove – I later discovered it is the only road to Hazel Grove. I set my sat nav and it it told me the address did not exist at that post code. I accepted a different post code, crossed my fingers and set off.

The stress was beginning to ebb away as I approached Hazel Grove but then I hit grid lock. It was the day of the local carnival and nothing was moving. Cars were doing nine point turns and going somewhere else. The sat nav told me there was no alternative route. Stress levels rose again as I realised I had not taken the bride’s mobile number, so I couldn’t contact her. Eventually I crawled far enough along the A6 to reach the turn off indicated by the sat nav. If I had no more mishaps I would get there just in time.

The sat nav has recently taken on the voice of a lovely calm Irish lady but that didn’t help when she took me up a cul de sac where there was no sign of my address. I did a hasty nine point turn and asked a couple of ladies who were watching me if they knew the address. Yes – it was back out and further down the road. I could have kissed them both.

I found the street and went straight to number 7. The house did not look like there was a wedding going on and my heart sank. I rang the bell and there was no answer. A sign said if there was no answer to go to number 13. I dashed there but again, no reply.

I did what I always do when things go tits up and phoned Joy. I told her I must have come to the wrong place, probably because of the confusion over the post code. The street name is fairly common and I must have the wrong one. My plan was to go back onto the gridlocked A6, go further down and then ask around and see if anyone knew the address, or if they knew of someone getting married. You would have to be pretty stressed to come up with such a bonkers plan as this.

Joy told me that I had left a piece of paper behind on which I had written the addresses of all the places I had to go, including the bride’s. The address was not number 7, it was number 1. Just then an old lady at number 13 started asking why I had knocked on her door. She had arthritis and found it very difficult coming to the door for no reason. I could only apologise.

Getting a bit hot under the collar, I jogged along to number 1 and through the door I could see that the little girl opening it was in a bridesmaid’s dress. ‘Are you going to a wedding today?’ I said as relief flooded over me.

From that point on I started to relax even though the sat nav then tried to take me to the railway station rather than the registry office. We actually arrived early and once I realised that I would not be the cause of her being too late to get married I started to enjoy myself.

Once at the right house the neighbours come out to have a look
Lots of passengers but no seat belts in the Sick Bay. Fingers crossed again!








Waiting outside I heard someone call my name and a young lad, who I did not recognise from Adam, asked me if he could take a selfie with the Sick Bay. Transpires he was one of the lads involved in the school prom I had done the previous week. Nice lad but looked totally different without his purple prom suit and shades. Needless to say I won’t be doing any more proms either.

Looking cool, calm and collected . . .
. . . now that it’s all over and the deed is done







Although I took the wrong route to the pub and had to be flagged down by a guest in a car, I had not ruined the bride’s day after all. All’s well that ends well but I am getting stress averse these days. I’m pretty sure that at times during the day I must have been out-stressing the bride and I am definitely not up for that anymore. I’ll miss the excitement of being involved in a wedding day and I’ll miss the attention that the Sick Bay always gets. But I won’t miss the worry of being the one responsible for spoiling the bride’s big day. As the song says – ‘It’s all over now’.

Got to be the coolest hearse in Stockport – and I’ll be in it if I do any more weddings!

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