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A Week Before Our Wedding We Went To The Races

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Here at Mickeytales Towers November Nostalgia continues with much spectacle and sparkling ale. But, you somehow already knew this.

We decided to have a joint pre-wedding party at the now demolished Victoria Park racecourse on Caulfield Cup day way back in 2002. It was a glorious spring afternoon- still, sunny and the good earth itself was bursting with rude health and robust conversation. We set up afternoon camp on the sloping lawns that fell away from the old grandstand.

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Here’s the bride with her mum, Joan and grandparents who’d driven down from Queensland for a few weeks. Griff liked a punt, and for many a year after would talk about this day, especially the bewildering fact that we hadn’t invested nearly enough on the Cup winner, a handy horse named Northerly.

We’d be up in Gympie with the cricket wandering along on their boxy, old TV, when, in complete contrast to the topic at hand he’d announce wryly, “You know what? We should’ve had more money on that bloody Northerly.” He’d then cackle at his own belated wisdom, and drum his fingers in that special way he had.

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Ali Hennessy has ample respect for authority, and of course, there’s no greater authority in Australia than Major Les Hiddins (retired). No, that’s not him on the right as that’s Paul, a Kapunda boy. Les is a devotee of VB, and he used to say, “In the army we’ve a saying. Two cans, per man (or woman), per day. Perhaps.” See what I mean by respect? Of course, it’s possible that Ali’s holding the can for her husband, Hen, who may have ducked across to the betting ring to invest in Waikikamukau, only to be briskly told that the horse was retired, or that he was even less likely to run a place, as he was deceased.

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Here’s Dad. Loves a red wine, loves a chat. Loved a punt. I reckon he had a pretty good day out. I reckon we all did.

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Bronwyn and Jonesy. My dear old friends from Mount Gambier, or the Mount. Of course, when at the races if someone asks where you’re from, and you reply, “The Mount” they could glance towards a nearby gelding and wonder if there’s an equine connection, so be careful. Just sayin’. Social confusion is best avoided.

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Here’s my sister Jill and her husband Barry. They were married earlier in 2002 at Partridge House in Glenelg before the reception, which was at Ayers House. I was their MC (sadly no DVDs available for purchase at time of writing).

Back then people drank Crown Lager as it possessed a rarefied, almost posh image that meant it was an “occasion” beer. Now, it holds the charm of a solitary night in a deserted pokies tavern, complete with stale biscuits and cups of tepid tea.

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A bottle of water? Whose is it? Whew, nobody in our group! Had me worried for a minute.

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From left to right: my father-in-law Darryll, my grandmother-in-law, Jean and my mum, Lois. Note that Jean is holding an ancient parchment called a form guide. It’s not an app, or on a phone or even on the TV with some baritone idiot barking, “The Curse!” or “Happy Puntmas” every nine seconds. Kiddies, ask your elders.

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Dad’s chatting here with his brother John and his wife, Liz, who in a curious twist also happen to be my Uncle John and Aunt Liz. What a crazy life! The coincidences!

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I miss the Victoria Park races, located as they were on the edge of the city. I recall heading in there one July afternoon with Hen (far right) but leaving early to cab down to Adelaide Oval to watch the Dogs play a SANFL fixture. After the match we snuck into the CDFC rooms.

The next day we flew to Brisbane with fellow Kimba-folk, Bazz and Annie, on a mystery flight. While in Queensland, Bazz bought a child’s toy called a “cat in a bag.” With his own money. I often wonder about that cat.

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This was the last time we went to the races there. It’s now an open park although the old, heritage grandstand maintains vigil over the sweeping grass and waving gum trees. Thanks to everyone who shared the afternoon. Now, and then, it reminds me of the many and varied things for which I should be thankful.

I do wish I’d stuck more coin on Northerly though.

 

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The Cox Plate, Kevin B. Wilson and love: my wedding speech

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We were married on Saturday, October 26, 2002. How can this have been fifteen years ago? Here’s a transcript of my wedding speech.

When we decided to get married a little over a year ago I thought this will be a really big day, and I need to seek lots of advice on how to make it work well. You need undertake lots of decisions to make it work well.

So, who can I talk to? Who can help me out here? So, I decided to go to my old home town, Kapunda. Anyone here from Kapunda? (various members interjecting) I talked to a few people from Kapunda and as you can plainly tell, they were absolutely useless to me. They had nothing sensible to offer whatsoever.

So, then I thought my second home is probably the West Coast so I thought I’d talk to a few people about the big day, the really important day. And they were even less use than the Kapunda people.

It hit me like a flash one afternoon. Who’s the most important person who can give me some advice? So, I wandered up to the Barossa, to the Valley one afternoon and sat down with Dad.

We were sitting around the kitchen table having a Sparkling Ale. One of two, you’re only allowed two per session in the Randall house. Each carton’s got to last at least twelve drinking sessions. So, we’re sitting around the kitchen table talking about the big day and I’m seeking advice. And Dad’s lovingly grasping his frosty ale, and I said, “Dad, what do you reckon? Help me out with this big day. What do you suggest on this day of days?”

And Dad said, “I know it means a lot to you. It’s a crucial day, we want you to be happy. My advice is to wack all your money on Sunline in the Cox Plate.”

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Welcome to our wedding.

I’d like to thank our ushers Jill and Barry, and Robyn and Mark for their terrific work earlier.

I’d also like to thank our guitarists who entertained you earlier, Neil and Phil, very good friends from Port Pirie, who played some beautiful songs by people we really like such as U2 and Jeff Buckley. I know also that they rehearsed that terrific wedding classic, “Hey Joe” by Jimi Hendrix. It’s a great song, I’ll just remind you of some of the key lyrics, it goes

Hey Joe, where you goin’ with that gun of yours?
I’m goin’ down to shoot my old lady
You know I caught her messin’ ’round with another man

It’s a touching wedding song. Thank you very much.

Thanks also to our photographer Brett, and his assistant Trish for their wonderful work. They’re from Blue Razoo. That’s Blue Razoo, if you need somebody. We had a terrific, fun morning down the beach with Roxy. (Robyn interjecting- Roxy Randall!) He’s a great photographer. In the photos, I’ll be blonde and built like Koutoufides (former Carlton footballer, Adonis-like).

Thanks to our videographers, Richard, Mark and Matt for capturing much of the afternoon. Well done.

Thanks to my sister Jill for your reading of that poem which means a lot to us. Superb.

Thanks to the jockey and connections of Celestia which won Race 10 last week when we were at Victoria Park. That was the Get Out Of Jail Stakes and we certainly needed that.

Thanks to guests who’ve travelled. From Queensland, Grandma and Grandpa, Chris, Stephen and Eleni. Thanks for making the effort.

Thanks also to Greg Mennie who’s travelled all the way from the Eastern Suburbs today, a big effort. Crossed the border there at West Terrace, no vaccinations, no visa. It’s pretty brave, he’s good like that. Thanks, Puggy.

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Thanks also to all of you for coming. People from Kapunda, Gawler, Queensland, Pirie, Kimba, Wudinna and Adelaide. Thanks for sharing you lives with us. We’ve enjoyed living in the communities that we have. We can really recommend the three pillars of country living to you.

1.    Hotel

2.    Sport, and

3.    Hotel after sport.

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To all of our friends who are shortly to be married or who are to have a baby: good luck from all of us here. There’s quite a few of you. Congratulations. (Robyn interjecting,” Yeah, Kerry!)

Thanks to our parents. To Lois and Bob, Joan and Darryll, for your extraordinary love and guidance and support not only today, but throughout our lives. Thank you.

To Jill and Barry; Richard, Mark, Robyn and Dylan: thanks for your contributions and for making our lives as fabulous as they are.

Lastly, to Kerry-ann. For the rich catalogue of memories you’ve given me already: Sunday beach walks with Roxy; the sunset in Venice; hot chocolate over games of backgammon. Thank you for that.

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Well done for your astonishing work in preparing for today. It’s been beyond any expectation I could’ve had, and as we’re probably all guessing, it’s all due to you. Thank you.

You look as beautiful as you truly are. (various members interjecting; especially Robyn, “What do you want?”)

Just a few of the things I do love about my wife include: your absolutely unconditional generosity with people, the countless ways in which you’ve taught me about the world and myself, your vibrant cultural tastes- this is a girl who can sing all of “Joelene” by Dolly Parton, and a terrifying amount of the back catalogue of Kevin B. Wilson, which we’ll be doing at 5.55 so that’ll get you out the door in a big hurry.

In closing, if I know what love is, it’s because of you.

So, please enjoy the reception and thanks for coming.

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