My speech at Toby and Suze's glorious wedding on Saturday (included below) was my third public speech ever. The first one, a short poem to my grandmother at her funeral in 1998, went down well. The second one, on my wedding day in 2000, didn't go down so well. Conspicuously lacking motor skills, I read half of it, before falling over, using the bride's veil to catch my fall. It ripped.
Toby Dutton came into my life at a time when I needed him most. Down on my luck at an unspeakable speakeasy I was crying out for some form of refreshment.
“I have a face that is a cross between two pounds of halibut and an explosion in an old clothes closet!” James Dutton was acting strange. I turned to him aghast. “It’s David Niven,” he said.
I had somehow managed to infiltrate an elite circle peopled by James and his sensible wife Miranda. The effort required vast reserves of raw power and as a result, I began to perspire freely. Beads of sweat leaped off my nose like excited little lemmings hurtling off the nose of a cliff. I imagined Tchaikovsky putting together a pretty nifty score based on this visual for a new episode of Disney’s Fantasia…but I digress.
Anyway, all this activity was making me a tad parched.
Prior to the Flaming Lips concert, James, once again as David Niven, addressed the circle, commanding their full attention. “I wonder why it is, that young men are always cautioned against bad girls. Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against.”
Rather peculiarly, Miranda erupted into sustained, uproarious laughter.
The Flaming Lips were now on stage doing whatever it was that they do, but I did not care. I gazed longingly at the bar. The path to it was populated by an impenetrable wall of ‘pardon the expression’ nimrods standing neck to neck. I recalled a history of people visiting the bar here and never returning. I did not like my chances. But, then…emerging from the shadows, a heroic apparition…not unlike a young Boris Karloff in a classic scene from 1919’s Omar the Tentmaker…emerging from his tent. “Shane, meet my brother Toby,” announced James. “He’s new here.”
“Nice to meet you Toby.”
“I would like to meet a good girl,” he said.
“Didn’t your brother warn you about those?”
“To hell with him and his delightful impersonations, I want a good girl, goddammit! Preferably one with my Mother’s name – Susan Mary.”
“Okay well first… I pointed up at the bar…would you kindly go up there and fetch me a refreshing, sparkling apple cider, they’re rather delicious. Besides you’re closer.” And technically he was, even though he was standing right behind me. Toby started on his way and instantly I regretted what I had just done. Throwing him to the wolves like that. We had only just met. What if he didn’t come back? Well he did go and obviously, he did come back and that’s just the kind of loyalty, generosity and self-sacrifice that Toby Dutton will bring to this great marriage! Though I did make him sound like a great big puppy there, and he is but he’s chiefly a saint.
I’ve worked real hard ever since to be the proverbial captain of Toby’s yacht, the Kenny Loggins to his Jim Messina maintaining smooth sailing, with or without Malibu Rum, best of friends to this exemplary dude, I sure don’t know what I’d do without him sometimes, he’s just the loveliest guy, adored by all, held in such high esteem, a multi-faceted artiste, sings a heck of a rock and roll. Toby Simon Charles. Here’s to you.
“It's the good girls men should be warned against,” David Niven said, as you might recall, via James Dutton. In this case, the golden life-force that is Susan Mary Luke.
Now Toby and Suze may have met at a bingo parlour, but Suzie chose not to yell “Bingo!” until their wedding night, which comes later when they are finally alone together.
Like Ballarat in the 1850s, Suzie has a heart full of gold. She is electric. I stand in awe as Suzie engages the most unlikely pub patrons, and in time they saunter off sloshed on her fresh perspectives, while Suzie buzzes rapt with the sheer joy of good conversation. Toby found her so engaging, they got engaged. I reckon she’s a cross between Susan Hayward, actress of determination, Suzie Quattro, tough spunk du jour, one of the Golden Girls and Mother Theresa.
Like the sun, people feed off Suzie’s amazing energy source. Sounds unpleasant, but it’s really quite extraordinary. She is valued as a rare thing in our lives, a necessity and an extravagance. Together they are a perfect pair.
Now I’ve hardly mentioned the art and music that Toby creates, it is much-loved and appreciated — so here’s to Toby and Suze creating beautiful music together.
1st December 2007