First dance wedding surprise

Steel Drum player

Are you good with surprises?

I’m not.

Not even the good ones.

Send me into a dark room, flash some bulbs in my face and have a motley group shout


and I get an ungrateful feeling tingling all up in my Tena Lady.

Even if there is cake.

Yes, birthday or not, anniversary or not, the whole thing just feels a little, well, terrifying.

Unsurprisingly, an inability to enjoy a well meaning surprise and just ‘go with the flow’ is often attributed to some past traumatic lack of control, quickly followed by those two words – Control Freak.

I prefer Control Technician.

Here’s the thing, though, I LOVE throwing surprises for other people.

You may remember in one of my early posts, I talked about spending a long time refusing to marry Bronnie, and then waking up one day having decided I would marry him…but not tell him.

Uh huh.

I was planning to organise the whole thing in secret, pretending we were just off for a date night at, say, The Odeon.

A friend or relative persuaded me this would have been a selfish thing to do, especially given how much Bronnie liked the prep and circumstance leading up to any big ‘Do’.

The irony of that story, is I go on to spend months (months) attempting to get Bronnie to recognise the beat in the number I have chosen for our ‘First Dance’. A simple and soulful ‘two-step’ by Don-E called ‘Unbreakable’.

Have a listen. I’ll wait.


Aww, memories.

So, come the big First Dance, we grab hands, linking them lovingly around each other’s necks in anticipation of a romantic smooch.

In this romantic haze, I miss a deadly hush before a hitherto unnoticed cream canvas drop cloth thing suddenly falls from the ceiling. Falls from the ceiling to reveal behind it several West Indian Rastas on a makeshift stage wearing day-glo Caribbean shirts and rice white grins.



“Honey, you know that Steel Band I said we couldn’t afford? Well,


Scrabbling around for my game face, I try to match the beaming grins of the band and the guests surrounding us. (Closing in on us? Why couldn’t I breathe?)

I grab Bronnie tighter around the neck to bring him up more close and personal, hissing into his ear, “But what about the first dance, we practised?”

“Fear not, my love. Maestros, please.”

And with a theatrical, hail fellow well met wave of his arm, the ting ting of steel drums start up.

But not ting tinging out ‘Unbreakable’ … ting tinging out ‘Yellow Bird’.

Oh. Dear. Lord.

Yes, the first dance in my marriage to Bronnie was ‘Yellow Bird’. Yellow bird high up in banana tree.

This story is now a family favourite, and comes to mind as I get a whiff from I know not where that some sort of surprise visit may be in the air to cheer me and my prolapsed disc up.

But maybe this time I’ll surprise everyone by just ‘going with the flow’ if it happens.

A flow which will include upping my medication dosage and hallucinating about yellow birds high up in banana trees.

Yep, dat sounds like just the ting to do.

HMS HerMelness Speaks