Small Towns And Solo Weddings

This past weekend I did two things that were unusual for me. For one, I went to a town about an hour outside of London. Second, I went to a wedding on my own.

Here's the funny thing about England. There are suburban belts of land, which are similar to the kind of environment where I grew up in the suburbs of New York. But, you can take easily take the train only an hour outside of London and end up in true countryside with little lambs jumping around incredibly verdant green meadows (yes, England is so damp that the meadows are still green in December).

It's a different world. I was in Marlborough, which is home to one of the big British boarding schools – called Marlborough College. If you've heard of it recently, and you're not English it may be because that's where Kate Middleton (you know, future Queen of England) went to school. And everyone I met seemed to know her, including the taxi driver who drove me to the bed and breakfast from the train station. I heard she's a very nice girl.

Chatty, that’s what people are in other parts of England, apparently. Perhaps my lack of experiencing stranger chat has been because I live in London. I spent quite a bit of time roaming the streets of Marlborough on my own and I was certainly not lacking for company and conversation. I bought a nice dress for wedding-related activities and I even got some Christmas shopping done.

But I have to say, the whole thing freaked me out a little. Is this what living in a big city does to you? I'm so used to anonymity that having the inn owner reminding me to book a taxi to the station the next day made me feel a little creeped out. All the chat was starting to feel surreal, as if I was in some sort of horror film where everyone seemed nice – too nice in fact – and really I was just going to end up sawed into little pieces.

Maybe the real problem is that I watch too many horror films.

So after my lovely but slightly surreal shopping day, I went to a wedding on my own. Now I think I'm pretty good in situations where I don't know too many people – one of my greatest skills is my ability to make small talk in a variety of situations. Being a journalist was great training for this.

But this past weekend being alone in a situation where I wouldn't usually be and not knowing too many people reminded me how important it is to be nice to people who are at a disadvantage in some way. Whether it is a person at a party who doesn't know anyone, a new person or someone who is just not 'part of the crowd' – being nice can really give someone else a boost, and actually make their day.

I was really lucky – many of the friends of my friend who was getting married were really nice and chatted to me at length and made me feel included. A former teacher from my friend's school days adopted me, so to speak, and sat with me during the ceremony.

This is the kind of thing that is so easy to do for someone else but that goes such a long way. It's no skin off our backs to chat with someone at a party for five or 10 minutes, but it can make their evening so much better. People always talk about wanting to make a difference in this world, but you don't have to go far to do it. There are so many ways to make a small difference to those in our own back yard that we don't always think about.

It was an interesting weekend. And so great to get out of London for some fresh air and a change of perspective. But this city mouse was pretty happy to get back on the train to civilization where there are fewer lambs and meadows (or none, actually) but no one takes much notice of you.

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  1. How am I related to such a funny and articulate person?? :) I love reading your posts, it makes me feel like we dont live an ocean apart.

  2. Thanks, my dear! I wish we didn't live an ocean apart :( There are some big disadvantages to moving abroad. But I will see you in about a week at Grandma's!


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