Delivered as Best Man at Providence on 18 December, 2010
Welcome everyone to Gary and Shelley’s wedding. I am Warwick Chapman, known to most people here as Budgee. I have the good fortune of being a friend of both the bride and the groom, and the rather ominous responsibility of having introduced them to one another.
So on behalf of the bride and groom, I would like to thank all of you for having come up here to celebrate this day, especially those of you who knew that I’d be saying a few words – it’s very touching that you still decided to come.
The crucial role a best man must play on this important night is to provide accurate information about the groom such that everyone here has a good idea of just what Shelley has gotten herself into.
I thus thank you Gary for asking me to be your best man. It is a great privilege and I shall not disappoint. First, however, what I must do as a best man is make a heartfelt toast to two people without whom we would none of us would be here today. Hopefully as the night goes on, each of us will have a chance to spend some quality time with them. So I ask you to rise, and join me in toasting the bar staff.
We couldn’t do it without you guys. Thanks alot.
There are many things I can say about the man with the hairiest toes in the world, and a few things perhaps I shouldn’t. But before I tell you about this fella Shelley’s just married, let me propose a real toast to three smashing young ladies.
Lord Alfred Tennyson said simply that “A happy bridesmaid makes a happy bride.” Mary-Leigh and Nicole you two make a fine complement to our stunning bride tonight. I know she appreciates all the support you’ve given her over the last weeks and especially today. I could not possibly complete this toast without mentioning Deidre and that beautiful cong she sang in the chapel. Please rise and join me in toasting the Deidre and the bridesmaids.
More than just a few of us here tonight met GazziPuff 11 or 12 years ago at the University of Natal, Durban Rowing Club. There, being but a slight of a fellow, and a finicky technician in the bowseat, he earned himself the nick name – FairyG.
And who could forget the photo of Gaz published in a mainstream weekend newspaper, dressed in a tiger suit, his hand in a claw pose with the campest of growl expressions on his face. Accordingly, the paper misspelt his name “Gay” Ainsworth. So GazziPuff, even though you’re a FairyG and Gay – you’ve bagged yourself a gentle, intelligent and above all gorgeous wife and are now laughing in the face of these prophecies we wrote in your name. Good show.
Shelley, you no doubt have some idea what you’ve got yourself into, but for the benefit of those less familiar with the dirty details, let me share the sort of treatment Gary might come to expect from a wife. You see, Gary’s doting mother spoilt him as a child, as a teenager, and even as a grown man.
Many people thought us rowers nuts for dragging ourselves out of bed at 4am each day to go rowing. Gary’s mornings, however, were somewhat more comfortable. You see he’d be woken with a cup of tea, and a pair of pre-warmed socks thanks to his darling mother who couldn’t bear the thought of our Gaz getting cold feet. Well, Margaret, I’m pleased to say that your boy is married, and its now Shelley’s job to make the tea and warm the socks, though, perhaps it might just be the other way around!
Just whatever you do Shells, don’t wet his socks and put them in the freezer. You may end up with the fire brigade outside your door in a bad mood. Gaz, ever the prankster, at SA Student Sprint Champs about 100 years ago, found himself pranked and saddled with a hard, frozen pair of his trademark long rowing rugby socks. In a moment of sheer brilliance he decided the obvious solution was to heat them in the oven – sounds good right? – as long as you don’t go off to a fines meeting shortly thereafter and leave them in the oven to combust. Chop.
This is the same dude the Poms decide to make their Safety officer while he was working in the UK. Safety first Gaz. Shells, keep a leash on him, you never know what could go down. And whatever you do, never ever respond when Gary asks you to check if something smells funny. Not unless you want whatever it is he’s holding all over your face… that one never ever fails to amuse him.
Sure this man has matured over the years, but beware of the rare failure to be discrete. A fellow rowing friend, Caroline Reid, related to me an almost lost story of one of Gary’s first flings in varsity which unnerved him more than just a little. So concerned was our Gaz, that he confided in Cally that this lass “had gone from friend to psycho over just one kiss.” Unfortunately the lass was standing right behind him. Smooth dude.
For Gary’s Bachelor bash at Inanda Dam, we asked Shelley a set of questions about Gary. At the party, we put each question to Gary, and then compared with Shelley’s answer. A most illuminating exercise.
One of the questions asked whether Shelley knew that Gaz used to wear an Alice Band and if he still had this hair style would she have even given him a second glance?
Gary’s answer (granted he was properly trousered and full of confidence): “She would’ve loved it!”
Shells responded: “Yes I have actually seen photographic evidence from Lauren Carrol!!! Honestly if he was still sporting such fashion accessories when I met him ,we would not be here today. ”
Another question referred to Gary’s incessant whining, asking Shells on average how many times a night does he moan about something?
Gary’s reponse: None
Shelley’s reponse: He does tend to be a winger. If I had to give it a number I would say between two and three. Just tonight I have heard that he has a bite on his arm and that he hopes it won’t lead to tick bite fever (because he has had it three times before!) and that he also has a paper cut which is actually very sore!
Gary took his rowing very seriously at varsity, making up for his significant lack of height with spirit and commitment. Rowing itself aside, Gaz was the inspiration of the sense of humour department, president of the association of pranksters and fellow in the institute for inebriation induced creative dancing. He’s the sort of legend that makes fun times great.
Gary provided many notable figures in the rowing community with simpler, easier to remember names. One unfortunate fellow, who I had the pleasure of cover tackling into the Msunduzi for harassing one of our UND ladies, protested that I had wet his, and I quote, “10000 grand Diesel watch”. We all laughed at him heartily. Gary called him “Diesel watch guy” from that day forward. Others to suffer the misfortune of Gary’s programme of renaming were “Model boy”, “Big nostril dude”,
Gary lived with me for a year or so a couple of years ago. We were hopeless single people, and occasionally we did what hopeless single people do, and went to Billy the Bums for a burger and beer. We were wingmen, wallowing in our uselessness. These were good times.
There one night, we bumped into my dear old friend, and evidently also hopeless single person, Shelley Wright. At the moment, I decided that I was actually tired of Gary being in my house, holding me back, so I took it upon myself to inflict Gary on Shelley. Gary was instantly smitten. I cant be certain but I’m fairly sure that Shelley wasn’t. As we walked out, he said to me, “Soo… do you think I’ve got a chance? You know, she’s way outta my league.”
Naturally, I assured him Shells was keen as beans – of course I had no idea if she was – but it was my duty as wingman to say such things.
I am, however, sure of one thing. If there are such things, Gary, Shelley is in your league. Gaz, you are the consummate gentleman, quite possibly my most loyal and forgiving friend, you’re brutally honest, trustworthy and reliable. And you have the biggest BIG toe nail I’ve ever seen.
Shells, I’ve known you a few more years than Gaz – since Glenwood and Girls’ High days, through our beautiful friend Annie, who, incidentally, I also arranged to have married off to a rower.
Shelley, you are a gentle soul, caring, thoughtful and I know you love Gary dearly. I know you’ll take care of him and I have no doubt that he’s already devoted his life to loving and caring for you.
I wish your partnership endless love, good fortune, and despite the Pope’s recent comments, a great many children.
Could I ask you all to rise and toast the bride and groom.