Top hats (or perhaps that should be turbans) off to the Sikh leaders in Delhi who are campaigning to put a stop to increasingly extravagant weddings. According to the Times of India, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee "feels that ostentatious weddings are leading to increasing competition among families to outdo each other. A lot of money is being wasted. This show of wealth is leading to... immense pressure on families that can't afford to organise such weddings."
As in Delhi, so it is in Surbiton. Anyone who has seen BBC1's bizarre series The Big Day, in which couples hand over the organisation of their weddings to their families and friends (what was that the BBC said about its creative and cultural programming?), knows that there is something seriously wrong with the institution of marriage. And I don't mean just the prospect of having oily Nick Knowles anywhere near your one special day as a princess. What really hits home are the figures: the news that the average couple spends somewhere in the region of £18,000 on a wedding, whereas lucky Bob and Philomena, or whoever, with help from the programme's team of experts, are attempting to recreate that glamorous experience with "only" £4,500. The cheapskates.
It goes without saying that spending the equivalent of a large family car (or a small northern house) on a marriage these days is equivalent to betting the family silver on Britney staying sober until the end of the summer. It makes you wonder if there isn't an opportunity for the insurance business in all of this - wouldn't it be a relief to get your money back and start again when he puts on three stone/ she starts picking her toenails in bed? But spare a thought for the innocent financial victims in all of this: the wedding guests.
Perhaps it is the combination of Sod's Law with the rainiest summer in British history, but somehow, this year, everybody seems to be tying the knot. Unfortunately, nobody seems to be doing it in England. I've done weddings in Australia and Scotland, which just leaves Italy and Bali to go. Every single one has been the best fun I have ever had in a posh frock. But I can understand why some people are starting to get wedding fatigue.
One gregarious chap I know is making his way through a dozen celebrations this summer, which serves him right for having so many friends. But it's not just the weddings: there are also the stag dos, and the hen dos (being a gay man he is expected to turn up to both, and must have seen more strippers than Peter Stringfellow). This summer, other people's weddings are costing him thousands of pounds. Fortunately he is a wedding addict, and says he wouldn't miss any of them for the world.
But the Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee is right: a spirit of wedding one-upmanship is leading perfectly reasonable people into backbreaking profligacy - and not just for themselves. The hen night in the local boozer has turned into a long weekend in Rio. The hotel bills are crippling. And then there are the presents: because of course the lucky couple has never lived together before and therefore doesn't own any bed linen, ahem. I once asked the bride and groom if I could have their old saucepans after the gifts came in, and they looked at me as if they had encountered me raiding their dustbin.
Over in Delhi, they are recommending "simple" ceremonies that conclude "preferably before noon", with all-vegetarian food and no liquor. Well, when you put it like that... bring on the extravagance, and here's to the bride and groom!
The body language says it all
Hard as this may be to believe, it looks like Gordon Brown and George Bush have not been watching Channel 4's Big Brother on the Couch. If they had, they surely would have moderated their body language when they met at Camp David, to prevent thousands of newly-trained amateur psychologists from analysing their behaviour.
In the programme, various telegenic PhD types from the University of the Bleedin' Obvious explain the physical tics of the Big Brother contestants to a rapt audience; in the case of Bush'n'Brown, they need little explanation. In this photograph, Gordon stands firm and rigid: no giveaway "leakage" from our stern PM. His aloof expression and patronising hand gesture clearly say: "Who's the poodle, now?"
George plays Chanelle to Gordon's Ziggy. His pleading expression begs: "I want to shoot Iraqis BECOSS... they're being dead horrible AND ..." Gordon coldly replies: "Terrorism is not a cause but a crime. End of."
* To celebrate its 100th issue, Waitrose Food Illustrated has put together its food Hall of Infamy, and it is a travesty. Fair enough to list margarine and monosodium glutamate in the top 10 food disasters. But ploughman's lunch at number seven? Pot Noodles at eight? Are students meant to live on bread alone? Is cheese not the food of the gods? Where is chopped liver among these culinary abominations? Sure, posh foodies are all over their offal now, but ask a working-class person over 40 to go near faggots and brains; there are some things you only eat because you can't afford real food. Where are prawns, the cockroaches of the sea? Where are kidneys, which taste of wee? Where are caviar, lemon curd, cous cous (cardboard cous more like) and the brown ones out of Liquorice Allsorts? WFI wouldn't know food hell if it came spatchcocked and julienned and served up by Gary Rhodes.Reuse content