Karen Krizanovich column

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The Independent Online
Weddings. Spare me. The last time I caught the bouquet, it was on fire.

Weddings and me? Bad ju-ju.

Nevertheless, this morning I'm off to a big one at a family manse in the country. I'm already sweating like a racehorse. Men don't have a clue what a pain in the neck it is to "get it right" at weddings. They think they've got it tough.

Men get ready like this: it's the morning of the wedding. The man rushes to the wardrobe and yanks out either a morning suit or the only suit that doesn't have a pattern of dog hairs all over it. Moth holes are toyed with, then ignored. He throws a hissy fit because some bastard's stolen his clean shirt. Once found, he makes special, "Won't you iron this for me?" eyes at his spouse. A minor panic sets in for cuff links, then a major one when he remembers he's forgotten how to attach his collar. This would never happen to James Bond.

Half an hour later he stands, a perfect lookee-likee for Cary Grant (ignore the navy socks). He, the lucky swine, is ready to quaff champagne and bray with his wobbly friends.

For women, every wedding is a catwalk event. The bride has it the worst, of course. It is her big day and there are usually plenty of mothers, sisters and friends there to ruin it. A bride must, at least once, combust into tears and want to call the whole thing off before she walks down the aisle to sickness and death, er, eternal happiness.

It's the poor female guests I feel for. We have to wear something different - and new - every single time. It can't be black or white and it has to suit the ever-changing weather. (Alas, rubber dresses are not allowed unless you're a rock star or newly freed from the loony bin.)

There's the shoe issue. Low heels do nothing for your legs but are great for grassy marquees. High heels look terrific but sink into mud and can give off the vibe that you're gagging for it. The latter is OK if you're going to the wedding to snag a man. Otherwise, girl, no.

On to hats. Big ones hit other guests in the eye. Little ones get sat on. And you can't wear the same one twice because even people with Alzheimer's remember them. I tried sidestepping the whole issue by wearing a hairpiece. Made the error of wearing it twice in a row, though. A "friend" came up at the second wedding and quipped, "Oh, I thought that was you. You're wearing the same hair."

However, I think I'm sussed today. Got the gift, got the tights, got the hat. Been waxed, manicured, coiffed and the dog hairs were sucked off the passenger seat last night. All that's left to do is pick up ye olde frocke from the seamstress. Wait, there goes the phone. Hi, I was just coming over to get the dress. What!?! Exactly what's "Something awful's happened" supposed to mean"?

Take your pick: see Michael Jackson grab his crotch at Wembley Stadium or watch a whole bunch of baggy-clothes-wearing, soap-aphobic, stubble- sprouting delinquents try to top themselves at Wembley Arena. I know which one scares me the most: "Give me an M, give me an I..."

The World Championship Skateboard Finals - officially called Vans Genaration '97 (sic) - is the largest competition ever held for skateboarding, the only sport (excuse me, lifestyle) that takes pride in bad spelling. Grown men should know better. But these members of the great unwashed do such amazing things with skateboards that afterwards I had to go home and change my shorts.

Kitted out with vertical ramps, tracks, iron handrails and a ramp-bound Jaguar saloon smack dab in the centre, friendly old Wembley Arena was transformed into Mad Max, except no jokes or Mel Gibson. More than 90 gritty, grimy competitors whizzed around the ramps one at a time, slipping, falling, limping manfully away. The arena heaved with speeding imbeciles - or so it seemed.

Just as I was about to yell over the tannoy, "Oi! All of you! Grow up!", a skater - dressed like a pizza delivery boy in mufti - zooms up on to an iron handrail. He rides the metal spine of his board across the whole length of railing, then - whooomp! - lands perfectly. This is much more impressive than it looks on TV. Get that move wrong, matey, and it's the boy's choir for you.

His "ollie" (skate slang for jump) and "grind" (slide) was so "phat" (good) that all of Wembley went "cookoo" (cuckoo). So what if they have rotten tailors? This is Serious Athlete City.

In the throng, I finally see someone I know who washes - Phil Young, editor of the boarding/BMX magazine Ergo Sum and one of the presenters for Channel 4's Boardstupid. Phil's a hardcore skater who's amazed that Vans Genaration '97 hasn't turned into a riot. If skating loves anything more than poor grammar, it's anarchy.

"Skateboarding at Wembley," he says looking over the horde of fans. "Five thousand kids who couldn't give a monkey's. Fanatical. Serious. Their commitment to skate is tremendous. You have to hurt yourself an awful lot to learn tricks like that. It looks easy."

Noting that I am one of the few women here watching a sport females have yet to infiltrate (Phil says they have too much good sense for that), I feel I've seen it all. The ollies. The boardslides. The broken arms. Not hardly. Vans Genaration '97 culminated with overturning the trashed Jag then flicking cigarette ends on to the pool of petrol bleeding from its tank. Oh those boys.

Like good ol' Jacko, skaters have a world of their own. You can't run out, slap on a pair of Vans (skateboard trainers that look, sort of, melted), buy a board and be one of 'em. Skateboarding isn't for kids anymore. Gosh mum, it's for addicts.

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