Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with both great pleasure and an awful lot of carbon off-set air-miles I stand in front of you today. For those who don’t know me, I am Patrick’s sister, Maddie. I apologise for printing this off and mostly reading it, but in my whirlwind tour of the UK this week, I haven’t been able to memorise it as driving and reading aren’t recommended in the Highway Code.
As best woman, I need to make a speech. Being a Smith, I’ve done my research, I’ve read books, I’ve made notes, being a PA I even made a list, being my brother’s sister I completely ignored most of what was in the books and wrote what I wanted to anyway.
In all my years on this planet, I have never met anybody as bloody minded or as stubborn as my family; while that can be a good thing, we are aware it is also annoying, so we apologise en masse, now and in public once and for all.
I have to thank my UK stand-in Lee for the lions-share of organising the stag do, which unusually will happen after the wedding, due to Isabelle’s unfortunate passing in July. So before we progress any further I would like you all to stand and to raise your glasses ‘To Isabelle’.
While I have you on your feet, can you now raise your glasses for a quick ‘hurrah!’ to Caireen. I know I am biased, he is my brother, but I am pleased that Patrick found someone who loves him as much as I do, and makes him so very happy. You look stunning today, and the smile you have worn is the best accessory of all. ‘Hurrah for Caireen!’
So now we get to the typical best man speech bit-ish, but without the random smutty sheep jokes.
Patrick and I didn’t have an easy relationship growing up; in fact some of the things I said and did to him make me feel ashamed now when I think of them. Luckily he has a big heart and appears to have forgiven me for them.
But when he was born, before he grew into the annoying lump he now is, apparently I was besotted with my baby brother. To show him how much I thought of him, I gave Patrick one of my most precious toys; a rag doll that I’d called Love, my Dad’s name for me, which Patrick wore away. Literally, rubbing the fabric of her dress against his cheek for hours on end until only a patch of fabric remained, that he then clutched in his fist. She went with him everywhere, even to a fancy dress party where he was dressed as Superman: a super hero with a most unusual sidekick.
He was my partner in crime, sharing in laughs, scrapes, games and tantrums. Always buying Old Kent Road and Whitechapel Road in Monopoly, content to pile on hotels, waiting patiently for us to ‘pass go’ and hand over most of our £200 with a quiet, self satisfied smile on his face. We shared library books, played hours of domino and card games, beetle with Granny, coloured in doilies with Nanny and messed about in Granddad’s woodshed, built a Lego castle that was so precious to him, Christmas stopped that year as all 4 of us tried to get it assembled before our visitors arrived. As we were children of the 80s, Star Wars toys were also all the rage in our house, while we never did find Yoda’s little cape again after we de-nuded the poor Jedi, we found random tiny guns in the carpet for years. We’d play for hours on an upturned table, our imaginations taking us across seas to lands we made up in our heads, with Mum’s green cape for grass, the stairs for hills and the landing for wherever we needed to travel to get the game done.
That same Lego castle came with lots of soldiers, one day we decided to make a shop, and sold things from it to everyone who had the misfortune of coming to visit. Mostly grapefruit, as those poor soldiers had their heads ripped off mercilessly to stock our greengrocer section. We played through slats on the backs of our chairs with a Post Office set, spent endless hours in swimming pools, both training and floating with our noses just out the water like hippopotamuses, built sandcastles and foraged in rock pools. He also ruined my best ever toy, the little green tree where the roof lifted up to reveal a house, because he got the father of the family stuck in the lift. That was a sad day at Thalassa I can tell you; but not as sad as the one where chasing after me he fell over on a gravel track and ended up with a crater missing from his knee, and nearly bit his tongue in half, giving him his little lisp.
He wanted to drive a septic tank; he fell for the Chinese Levitation trick, he thought the bird scarers were shooting at him when we went to pick our own berries, because if you tell him something – Patrick will believe you. Because of his big heart, because of his trust in the world and the trust he has in his friends and family is complete. He is one of the most loving, sincere and good men that I know.
Patrick and I have come a long way from wrecking each other’s toys. Through all the arguing, the tears and sheer red rages, Dad kept saying ‘You know, you two are going to end up really good friends one day!’ We’d look at each other and recoil with horror at the thought. But you know what, we are.
There is only one person in this world, who had they said to me last year, ‘Don’t go’. I wouldn’t have gone to Melbourne, and it is you. My little brother, the Yin to my Yang, you are everything I am not, but we complement each other, and I think we are a credit to our parents who celebrate 40 years of marriage tomorrow. We may not have always seen eye to eye – but we have always, always seen soul to soul and heart to heart. I am so proud of you for so many things, not least working so hard to get your first, but your scones, your humour, your writing skills, your god-damned photograph memory, the whole kit and caboodle that makes you my little brother that stands over me. And I am also proud that you asked me to stand here with you today, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
I would now like to remind Patrick and Caireen that I get married in 7 weeks, so could you please book your flights? Ladies and Gentlemen: I salute the Bride and Groom.