Minor British Institutions: The Best Man

Does any other untrained figure assume greater responsibility in British Life than The Best Man? Well, the Prime Minister, possibly, but he has rather more help. The Best Man, though, is expected to marry the organisational ability of Lynda Snell with the entertainment skills of Ken Dodd, the diplomacy of a Curzon with the decisiveness of a Cowell.

And it is the prospect of these attributes becoming hopelessly confused which gives so many mothers of so many brides so many sleepless nights.

This is the man who must guide his groom to the vows by way of stag abandon and late fitness doubts; who must remember the ring and, above all, make that speech, the one that can either go down in a happy roar or be attended by the deafening clink of coffee cups as he bottles it, or, far worse, commits the ultimate British faux pas, and goes too far. I've always stuck with "This is a very emotional occasion, even the cake's in tiers".

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