Friday, 7 September 2012

Being a Bridesmaid - Part 2: The Hen Do

It feels like forever since I was a bridesmaid and it feels like even longer since the hen do but it’s not a night that will be forgotten in a hurry.

Apparently in my mother’s day (the mid-80s) a hen do consisted of going down the local with your best friends and that was that.  Twenty-five years on and things have evolved somewhat.  Luckily in my case I wasn’t organising a trip to Faliraki or anything equally horrific, expensive and classless to see my best friend enter married life.

To get me prepared for what was involved I read a book on how to be a good bridesmaid.  Sadly it was aimed at the sort of vacuous woman who thinks liking cocktails and shoes constitutes as a personality.  The key, so the book told me, to all elements of being a bridesmaid was to be ‘fabulous’.  This was not the practical advice I had hoped for.  See below the picture of the aforementioned useless book.

The hen that I organised was for 26 people.  That is a lot of folk.  But whether organising for six hens or a hundred, the only thing you have to do is make sure whatever you do the bride has fun.  Obviously nothing so niche that the rest of the group are going to hate it but as long as you play to the bride’s tastes she is going to love it and that is all that matters.

The bride picked the venue, the activity and the meal as she was 1. incredibly organised and 2. she lives in Glasgow, I no longer do, so it ensured she got the night she wanted rather than me guessing on what places would be good.

I asked everyone for a deposit about four months prior to the event.  This weeded out the people who were never going to come but who may have dropped out later.  On the actual day I only had one person drop out due to illness rather than seven who could have quietly agreed to attend but had no real intention of being there.

On the evening itself games are incredibly important.  They give structure to proceedings and define it as something different to an ordinary night out.  We played Mr and Mrs.  It’s easy to find questions online, just compile your list of favourite questions from a simple Google and adapt it to be more personal to your friend.  I made it multiple choice and added in extra answers that I knew might catch her out.  For every question she answered correctly I gave her a bit of hen do tat - tiara and veil, sash, bride to be straw and shot glass etc.  I opted for nothing in the shape of a veiny penis.  She’s going to see one veiny penis for the rest of her life, one in neon pink is neither romantic nor becoming of an evening for ladies in their mid-twenties.

We played a second game that was of my own devising.  It was called ‘Play Your Kevs Right’, a rare moment where I used a pun for the purposes of enjoyment.  I sent a group email to those attending asking for pictures of the bride and groom looking happy together and ones of Kev (the groom) doing generally stupid things.  I then put the best on bits of card and the bride had to guess if the next picture in the pile was a good one (Moragulous) or him being daft (Kevastating).  It was in the style of Play Your Cards Right and highlighted something you should not underestimate in planning a hen - you will have to deal with stupidity in people you’d previously assumed were intelligent.  I asked for unique pictures that Morag may not have seen and more than three people copied ones from Facebook and then sent them to me thinking they were doing me a favour.  I could have done that, why would I be asking strangers to do this for me?

Nudity was also not part of my plans, I chose not to have a stripper.  I did have a ganders to see what was available locally.  It turns out strippers are surprisingly expensive and none that I found in the Glasgow area were remotely attractive - tattooed middle aged muscle man anyone? 

Obviously every person is different but as the bridesmaid you should know what makes your bride different and what she will and will not love.  Once the activity and games are out the way you get to enjoy the night like all the rest of your hens and you get the added thrill, if everyone is having fun, that you organised it and helped do something special in preparation of the big day.  Remember, should the worse happen and it is an absolute disaster everyone is guaranteed to get drunk and probably won’t remember how bad it was in the morning anyway.

Thursday, 30 August 2012


New Year’s resolutions are funny things.  Usually they are made in the knowledge that it sounds like a great idea but will never succeed.  I do not like failing and so have started to only makes ones which I am sure I will be able to keep.  This year’s was to go to the theatre at least once a month.  Two-thirds of the way through the year, so far, so good:

January:  A Round Heeled Woman
February:  Wicked
March:  Absent Friends
April:  Jersey Boys
May:  One Man Two Guvnors
June:  Abigail’s Party
July:  Sunshine Boys

The inclusion of musicals in my life isn’t something I would normally condone but if I can get a cheeky £10 ticket I'll go with an open mind and usually don't hate them.  As a rule though, I’m still against spontaneous singing.

Speaking of deals, that is how I ended up going to see the Jumpy matinee on Saturday.  I got restricted view tickets for a bargain £15.  Buying restricted view is always a bit of a worry if you don’t know the theatre.  I’d been to see One Man Two Guvnors in restricted view as it was the only way to see James Corden in the role in December.  How much I actually saw of him was dependent on the movements the man in front of me made while laughing and the handrail next to my face. 

So scared was I about buying restricted view that I had a dream a few nights before where I got to my seat and all that was in my line of vision was a wall, I was convinced it was going to be a nightmare.  I really shouldn’t have feared as when I collected my £15 ticket I got an upgrade to the Royal Circle.  That meant I saved £40 on an unrestricted view, happy, happy days. 

As much as I love a bargain, spending any meagre amount is still a waste if the play is no good.  

A loud burst of Florence and the Machine indicated the start of the show.  Immediately I was a bit concerned.  Blaring pop music to fill time as the actors re-arrange the set or to indicate a change in scene can sometimes feel a bit am-dram, thankfully Jumpy managed to shrug off that concern very quickly.

Tamsin Greig plays Hilary, a 50-year-old woman with a teenage daughter who is more concerned about going out than her GCSEs.  Hilary’s relationships with her child, her husband and best friend all disintegrate.  Her job is in jeopardy.  She is dealing with a life where aspirations remain unfulfilled as her daughter, Tilly, sets off on a journey that she does not understand will feature disappointment and compromise. 

Generally the acting was very well pitched although at times the daughter was just a bit too Kevin the Teenager for my liking.

Jumpy is on until 3rd November at the Duke of York’s Theatre, it's funny and touching and definitely worth a watch.