That’s how long it’s been since I first met my best mate Rick at high school, complete with a cocky look on his face and a rather dodgy hairstyle. (or was that me?)
Now he’s well into his 30s, his hair has improved slightly and he still likes to wind people up – in a push-your-luck kind of way.
Today he’s getting married – how did it come to this??
If this sounds like the start of a best man speech, it’s quite apt as this afternoon I’ll be standing up alongside his brothers to deliver the traditional character assessment of the groom.
It’s an experience I can’t wait for and, as he prepares to get married, it got me thinking of a few of the things we’ve been through together that make him my best mate.
Not the most manly of beginnings I must accept, but Rick and I made a pact to watch each screening of the Harry Potter films together first before we allowed wives/girlfriends to watch it with us. Mainly so we could laugh at Harry’s long romantic walks with Professor Lupin or the sheer ineptitude of the bad guys to get rid of him. This culminated in a 19 hour movie marathon five years ago and a trip to Harry Potter World which we (reluctantly) allowed our partners to come along for. Magic.
Regular readers of this blog will know that Rick and I “starred” in a five aside team for many years, mainly in Nottingham but also in tournaments up here.
He is a tremendous footballer, as those wonderful people who have contributed to his football biography will attest, and we seem to work extremely well together on the field. Three trophies, a runners-up medal and countless amazing memories later and we’re still strutting our stuff, now with the mighty Fodder. Long may it continue.
Rick and I took to the States eight years ago to do a road-trip around California and it was up there in the best times of my life.
We travelled from San Francisco to San Diego, taking in LA, Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch (two days after he died!), the OC and Mexico, all the while making random friends, upsetting the locals (and the tourists) and having an amazing time. If it wasn’t for the fact that Rick wore the same t-shirt for all 14 days – at least it seemed like it – it would have been the perfect holiday.
I met Sarah back in 2002 at college and it was clear that she was a lovely girl. We were never in the same social circles but that’s only because she was considerably cooler than me – to be honest, anyone who didn’t spend their lunchtime playing football on the tennis courts was. For his part, Rick hung around on the edge of her friendship circle. He’d say he was well and truly in the centre but we all know the reality.
Anyway, she used to come to visit Rick in Nottingham for random things like Eurovision parties and getting to know her there was great fun. Once things became more permanent between her and Rick, my wife and I have loved spending time with them as a couple, whether it be random dinner parties, picnics, Cheese and Wine Nights, Afternoon Tea…the list goes on.
It’s fair to say that she has absolutely been the best thing to happen to Rick and he is utterly besotted with her. Their relationship has been wonderful to see and I’m so excited about watching them get married. Ever since Rick relocated to be with her back in 2012, they’ve been moving towards this moment and their relationship is only going to take off from here.
It’s fitting to finish on our wedding. Rick was my best man back in 2010 back when we were fresh-faced and free from the craziness of high profile jobs and young children. He did a stunning job as my right hand man and, seven years on, is still utterly revered for his part in the most ridiculous wedding first dance I have ever seen – and I was in it!
Today, I get to repay the favour and it’s an awesome privilege, one which I take with great seriousness and great privilege. I hope I can do it justice.
Rick and Sarah, we love you as best friends. Today is one of the best days of our life let alone yours. Enjoy your wedding day, relish being married and we are full of joy and prayers for you as you move forward in married life together.