Wedding Speech

A few brief words from Dave Langford on the occasion of Martin Hoare's wedding to Jean Owen, 30 April 1993.

Ladies and gentlemen ...

It's time for me to say a word about my old buddy Martin. The word is: 'Beer.'

Now it's time for me to say a few more. I have been researching this for a long, long while and have had two practice runs already [unsubtle allusion to speeches at Martin's two prior weddings] – but Jean has asked me to leave out all the really disgusting bits, and so it's going to be short.

I first remember Martin from a day school in the 1950s, where he was a whole year ahead of me ... so as I was first laboriously learning to read 'Dan is a man', Martin was already up to advanced sentences like 'The bitter in the King's Arms is bloody awful.' It was the same in Oxford: we both did physics and he was a year ahead. My feeble mind struggled to understand the Uncertainty Principle which says it's impossible to know the position and velocity of a given body at the same time; meanwhile Martin was giving live demonstrations in the college bar, using his own body. He has always been a martyr to science – before he undertook his punishing research program into the effects of alcohol on the human pancreas, I remember he was once a slim lad with a mere 48" waist.

I asked Jean how she felt about marrying such an awesome human being, and in an exclusive interview she told me it was wonderful because she'd never liked her surname. 'I was born an Owen,' she cried, 'I once married an Owen, I've been an Owen all my life, I'd much rather be --' But my hearing aid failed before she could finish the sentence.

Apart from pubs, we have most often seen this happy couple together at science fiction conventions ... so I must quote one of the few SF novels which ends with a wedding. This is the marriage of Kim Kinnison, hero of Doc Smith's Lensmen books, in which everyone in the Galactic Patrol wears this amazing gadget called a Lens. Where exactly is the Lens worn? There is a hint at what you might call the climax of the ceremony, which has half a million guests and – I quote – 'Then, as Kinnison kissed his wife, half a million Lensed members were thrust upward in silent salute.' Don't all try it at once.

Jean and Martin are particularly well suited because Jean, as many of you will know, is an expert on incontinence. Her official title is continence advisor. Perhaps we can all pause to imagine them on the first night of their honeymoon, as Martin sits on the bed, looks down, and romantically says: 'Now I'm married to an expert nurse, I have to confess I've always wondered what that funny-shaped thing down towards the bottom is.'

And Jean will reply: 'As your continence advisor, Martin, I can inform you that it's Australia.'

Thank you all.