Book Club

book club, noun > (GROUP)

a group of people who meet regularly to talk about a book that they have all read

* Please don't read ahead, or you will not be able to 'predict' what will happen in the future with your classmates.
It won't be as fun to participate in the conversation if you read ahead of the group.

- Kamikaze 11/05/14



Four Weddings and a Funeral

By Richard Curtis (retold by Cherry Gilchrist)

Introduction


'How are you doing, Charles ?'

'Actually, not great,' says Charles. 'Not great at all, really. Why am I always at weddings but never getting married? What does it mean? Maybe it's me - I'm the problem.'

'Oh, rubbish !' says Matthew.

It's summer and it's Saturday morning, and Charles is still asleep. He should be on his way to his friends' wedding - his friend has asked him to be the 'best man'? But Charles is always late, and he is always going to weddings. 'Why am I always at weddings, but never my own?' he asks. He has had plenty of girlfriends, but he has never met the right woman. He is worried that he never will. One of his old girlfriends, Henrietta, thinks that he has a problem with women. But then he meets the beautiful Carrie, and he thinks she is the right woman. She likes him too. The trouble is, he can't decide quickly enough, and he doesn't tell her how he feels. She marries another man.


This is a romantic and very funny story about love. It takes us to four weddings. three of the weddings are for Charles's friends. There are a few surprises at the fourth one. It is also a story about friendship. In Charles's group of friends we meet the lively Scarlett , Tom, and Fiona, the rich brother and sister, and Gareth, the 'rude, fat man'.

There is sadness too. One of the group dies suddenly. The funeral is an important moment in the story, when Charles finally tries to sort out his life ... but does he succeed ?

The film Four Weddings and a Funeral was first shown in cinemas in 1994. English actor Hugh Grant plays the 'hero' Charles, and American model Andie MacDowell is Carrie. Other famous actors in the film include Kristin Scott Thomas as Fiona and Rowan Atkinson (who is better known as Mr. Bean) as the nervous priest. Richard Curtis wrote the story. Curtis and Grant worked together again on another British film, Notting Hill (1999), this time with Julia Roberts as the romantic lead. (Notting Hill is also available as a Penguin Reader.)

Richard Curtis camp up with the idea for the film when he was looking through some old diaries. He realised he'd been to more than sixty weddings in the previous eleven years. Writing the story took a while, as he had to rewrite some lines as many as seventeen times ! Curtis's girlfriend Emma was his closest critic. If she didn't like a page of his film story, she wrote the letters CDB on the page. 'CDB' meant 'Could Do Better'.

It took a long time to choose a title for this film. More than fifty suggestions were made, including Always Late and In Love in England. The final title was a good choice. Original music was written for the film, but it included Love is All around by Wet Wet Wet.

The four weddings and the funeral take place all over the UK, including one in a Scottish castle. there wasn't much money available to make this film, however, and it was actually all filmed in the south-east of England. The 'Scottish' castle is in Sussex and the film extras at the weddings had to bring their own dresses and suits.

The story is told in the present tense in this book; you feel as if you are watching the film as you read. Each scene is described as it happens

Who's in this story


Charles is attractive and unmarried; he's had many girlfriends but he can't find the right woman.

Carrie is a beautiful American woman who's had many boyfriends.

Scarlett shares a flat with Charles; she's not his girlfriend and she's looking for the right man.

Fiona is clever and elegant, unlike her brother. She hasn't got a boyfriend; she's in love with someone who doesn't love her.

Tom is Fiona's brother; he's a rich but not very clever friend of Charles; no girlfriend, but he's looking for love.

Henrietta is an old girlfriend f Charles and still wants to marry him; people call her 'Duck Face' behind her back.

Gareth is a loud and lively friend of Charles; he enjoys his food and drink and lives with his boyfriend Matthew.

Matthew is quieter than Gareth, and kind and intelligent. He and Gareth have been together a long time.

John is Henrietta's brother; he's very boring.

David is Charles's younger brother; he's deaf, and he and Charles communicate by sign language.

Serena is an affectionate young woman; she learns sign language so she can talk to David

Bernard is Tom's best friend. He likes Lydia.

Lydia is Laura's bridesmaid at the first wedding. She's not interested in Bernard at first


Four Weddings and a Funeral

Chapter 1 The First Wedding

You are invited to the wedding of Angus and Laura on May 1st at St John’s Church, Stoke Clandon, Somerset

It’s Angus and Laura’s wedding day, and Charles is going to be their best man. The best man has to look after the bridegroom and give him the wedding ring. The best man also has to be at the church on time, but Charles is never punctual. He is not even awake yet. The alarm clock rings loudly next to his bed. He reaches out his hand turns it off, and goes back to sleep.

The wedding is in the west of England, which is at least two or three hours by car from London, where Charles lives. Some of his other friends are awake though. They’ll be at the wedding before Charles. In their large, fine house, Tom and Fiona are up and getting ready to go. They are brother and sister, and they come from a very rich family. They are opposite types of people: Fiona is a tall, elegant and clever woman; Tom is a happy, but not very intelligent man.

Tom enjoys his food, and he’s now eating a large breakfast while Fiona chooses what to wear. Finally, she zips herself into a smart dress. She goes downstairs to the dining-room and the maid gives her a cup of black coffee. She quickly drinks it, and they set off. It’s Saturday, so the traffic is not too bad, but they mustn’t delay any longer.

On their way out of London, they call for Gareth and Matthew who live together in an attractive country-style house. Matthew is a cool but kind, sympathetic person – a Scotsman in his thirties. Gareth is a large, fat man of about forty-five. His hair is a little grey, but his beard is still black. He likes to wear quite elegant, but very bright clothes. He loves to joke, and is often quite rude to other people. Gareth and Matthew are boyfriends.

‘Late! You’re late!” he shouts, pointing at his watch. But Tom and Fiona know Gareth well, and don’t take any notice.

They are not as late as Charles though, who is still asleep. Finally, the sun shines on to him through the bedroom curtains and he wakes up. He takes the alarm clock off the table near his bed and looks at it.

‘Oh God!’ he says. He is really awake this time.

Charles is thirty-three years old, good-looking, and always late. He jumps out of bed and rushes in to Scarlett’s bedroom. Charles and Scarlett share a flat together. They are friends, but not lovers. Her room is a terrible mess – there are clothes everywhere. He picks up her red alarm clock and puts it under her nose. She opens her eyes sleepily.

‘Oh hell!’

Scarlett is twenty-five, lively, and a real London girl. You can hear it in her voice 0 she’s certainly not from an upper-class family!

They hurry to get ready, and run out to the car, carrying some of their formal wedding clothes with them. The car is Charles’s, and it’s very old. The engine won’t start.

‘Oh God! Oh hell!’ says Charles. ‘Right, we’d better take yours.’

‘Mine?” says Scarlett. “but it only goes at forty miles an hour!’

Charles drives her car so fast along the motorway that it shakes. It is a very small, red car, and it’s also very old and rusty. The engine makes a terrible noise. Scarlett can’t have looked after it very well!

‘What road are we looking for ?’ asks Charles.

Scarlett has a map, but she hasn’t looked at it yet. She picks it up just as they pass a motorway exit sign.

‘I hope it’s not the B359,’ Charles says when he sees the sign behind him.

Scarlett finds the right place on the map. ‘It’s the B359,’ she says proudly.

‘Damn! Says Charles. He suddenly puts his foot on the brake and starts to drive backwards along the motorway. There is a lorry coming up fast behind them, and there is nearly a terrible accident. Charles turns the car on to the exit road.

‘Oh, hell and damn!’ he says again.


It is a beautiful sunny day not long after noon as they arrive at the small church in the peaceful countryside. The church bells are ringing and all the other guests are already inside. Charles and Scarlett jump out of the car. Charles hasn’t finished dressing and neither has Scarlett. They quickly put on the rest of their weddig clothes For Charles it’s a formal suit. But Scarlett is wearing a bright orange dress with purple around the waist, and an orange hat to match. Charles tries to hep her do it up at the back, but the zip gets stuck.

‘Hell, hellish hell!’ says Charles, pulling at the zip.

‘Damn and hell!’ says Scarlett. She tries to get his tie straight. A very large smart car drives up behind them. The bride is coming.

She gets out of the car in her beautiful white wedding dress. One of her bridesmaids helps her. They are both holding wonderful bunches of flowers.

‘Oh no!’ Charles says, and they begin to run towards the church. They smile and wave at the bride as they pass her.

The church is full of flowers and all the women guests are wearing elegant hats. Charles and Scarlett look around and finally see their friends, Fiona and Tom, Gareth and Matthew. They go over to them.

Fiona says to Charles, ‘There is a sort of greatness in your lateness.’

‘Thanks,’ Charles replies. ‘I have to work hard at it, you know.’

Scarlett sits down with them, but Charles puts a pink flower in the buttonhole of his jacket and walks on up the church to Angus, the bridegroom, who is waiting nervously for his best man.

‘Sorry, sorry,’ says Charles. ‘There’s no excuse, I know. I’ll kill myself afterwards, if you like.’

‘It doesn’t matter, ‘ says Angus. ‘If you hadn’t come Tom would have taken your place.’

‘Thanks, Tom – you’re wonderful! What a terrible haircut thought!’ Charles jokes.

‘You haven’t forgotten the ring, have you?’ asks Angus. The best man is always given the ring to bring to the church.

‘No, no, of course not.’ Charles touches his pocket confidently. But he is secretly alarmed. Where is the ring ? When Angus isn’t looking, he searches for it in his pockets, but they are all empty. Oh God! He must have left it at home!

Just then, an attractive girl in a large black hat and white jacket walks into the church.

Charles and several other guests turn to look at her.

‘Late! Says Charles. ‘I hate it when people are late! Hate it.’

This makes Angus smile a little and he seems less nervous now. Then the wedding music starts.

'Here we go! says Charles, and Angus turns round to look at his bride, who is walking up the aisle towards him. Laura is holding on to her father's arm, and she's wearing a very expensive white wedding dress. She has tow little bridesmaids, and one older bridesmaid, a young woman called Lydia.

'Oh, isn't she beautiful!' breathes Scarlett.

'You're blind,' says Fiona sharply. 'She looks like a big white cake.'

'Dear friends, I am so happy to welcome you here today,' the priest begins the service. 'Welcome to our church on this wonderful day for Angus and Laura!'

But Charles is looking around him, wondering what to do about the ring. When he sees the girl in the black hat, he starts to think about other things - she's very attractive. Then he remembers that there is a more urgent problem. Everyone is singing now. He tries to make one of his friends notice him, but has no luck.

At last Matthew looks at him. Charles points at his own ring finger and the pain on his face tells Matthew what the problem is.

'Please! Hlepl me!' Charles silently makes the words with his lips.

Matthew whispers to Gareth, but Gareth holds out both hands to show that there is no ring on them. He whispers to Fiona, and to several more friends too. None of them is wearing a ring. Charles will be in big trouble ! The singing is coming to an end now.

Scarlett is singing very loudly and enthusiastically but not very well. Matthew interrupts her.

'Scarlett!' whispers Matthew. She is their last hope. She smiles back at him innocently. When the priest begins to read the next words of the service, Matthew nods to Charles - yes, they've got something!

'I'll be back in a moment!' Charles says to the groom, who looks alarmed.

The priest continues to speak: 'Do you promise to love her ... ?' while Charles goes down the side of the church to find Matthew.

Angus, the bridegroom, is saying 'I do.'

Matthew hands something to Charles, and Charles looks surprised at what Matthew has given him.

'It's the best I could do,' whispers Matthew.

Charles rushes back to the front of the church.

'Do you have the ring! asks the priests.

When he sees it, he is quite surprised too. Angus puts the ring on to his bride's finger. It is in the shape of a large, brightly-coloured plastic heart.

While the happy couple are signing their names at the back of the church, the bride's sister and her boyfriend come forwards with a guitar to sing pop music. It's an old Barry Manilow song.

Gareth holds his head in his hands. Then he pretends to shoot himself. He is letting everybody know that it is one of the most terrible things he has ever heard.

At last it's time to leave the church. When the bride, the groom and the guests walk out of the church they look very happy. Everybody is smiling and chatting. Charles catches up with the girl in the black hat outside.

'That's a great hat,' he says.

'Thanks - I bought it specially,' she smiles at him. He can hear from her accent that she's American.

Now it's time for the wedding photos. The photographer arranges the bird, the groom and the family in groups for the different pictures. A little boy spoils one of them she he tries to hide under the big skirts of the bride's wedding dress. He thinks it's funny - but the others don't.

Charles and his friends all get together in their own group to chat. There's Matthew and Gareth, there's Fiona and Tom, and of course the lively Scarlett. THere's Charles's brother, David, too, who is deaf and communicates in sign language using his hands. And there's also Bernard, who is tom's best friend - he is like Tom, a kind man, but not very clever.

Tom enjoyed the wedding and so did Bernard.

'I thought it was good, very good,' says Tom. 'What did you think ?

'Oh yes, good, very good,' replies Bernard.

'Scarlett,' says Gareth, 'what an amusing dress ! Purple for the Christian church, and orange for the wild natural world. Just like the meaning of the wedding itself, don't you think ?

'Yes 0 that's right,' says Scarlett, who doesn't really know what he means.

'Does anybody know,' asks Charles, 'who the girl in the black hat is ?'

They all look at her. She is standing not far away, talking to somebody's grandmother.

'Her name's Carrie,' says Fiona.

'She's pretty,' says Charles.

'Awful girl!' says Fiona. 'She's American. She used to work at Vogue, the fashion magazine * She lives in America now, and she only goes out with very smart, elegant people. So you can fort about her Charles.'

Fiona is not completely serious.

'It's a good thing you told me,' says Charles, who knows this. 'Thanks.'

The birds and groom leave the guests and get into their car. They look very happy. People wave at them as the care is being driven away.

'Right,' says Gareth. 'It's time for the reception.'








Four Weddings and a Funeral>Chapter 4> The Third Wedding

You are invited to the wedding of Hamish and Carrie on September 28th, in the church at Glenthrist Castle, Perthshire, Scotland
It is already a cold, wet autumn in Scotland by the time of Hamish and Carrie’s wedding. The mountains and lakes look very beautiful but also very gloomy and grey. Charles arrives late – as usual – and tried to change quickly out of the warm, heavy clothes that he put on for the journey. He takes off his pull over and puts on his wedding coat before he steps out of the car. The wedding is in the little church that belongs to Hamish’s castle.
The door of the church makes a loud noise as Charles opens it. ‘Sorry, sorry,’ he whispers. Everybody turns round to see who’s there.
The little church looks charming. The service has begun, and Carrie is standing with Hamish and the priest at the front. She looks lovely, too – serious, but beautiful. The priest asks Hamish whether he will take Carrie for his wife.
‘I do,’ says Hamish.
He asks Carrie whether she is willing to take Hamish for her husband.
‘I do,’ answers Carrie.
‘Damn, damn, damn it to hell!’ whispers Charles as violently as he dares. His last hope has disappeared.
The reception is in the fine castle that Hamish owns. As the guests walk there from the church they can hear special Scottish music being played. When they arrive, they are welcomed by servants who are wearing formal Scottish uniforms. Among the guests, many of the men are wearing Scottish-style clothes too and some of the ladies are also dressed in the Scottish style. The bride, the groom and the family are standing in a line. The guests shake hands with them as they come in. Carrie is standing at the end of the line, next to Hamish. Charles congratulates Carrie.
‘You look beautiful,’ he says as he shakes her hand.
There is some lovely Scottish dancing in the middle of the room.
‘Oh, great!’ says Gareth. ‘It’s like one of those films! It’s so Scottish that it can’t possibly be true!’
He joins in the dancing enthusiastically.
‘Dear friends,’ he says a little later, when his usual group of friends is standing together at the edge of the room. ‘None of us is married. You know, I was always proud of that. Not a wedding ring between us! But now, I’m getting older, and it’s suddenly begun to make me sad. I’d like to go to the wedding of someone who I really love.’
‘Well, don’t blame me!’ says Tom. ‘I’ve asked everybody that I know to marry me!’
‘You haven’t asked me,’ says Scarlett, a little sadly.
‘Haven’t I?’ asks Tom in surprise.
‘No,’ she shakes her head.
‘Well, Scarlett – would you like to marry me?’
‘No thank you, Tom. It was very nice of you to ask me.’
‘Well, any time you like,’ says Tom kindly.
‘Good man, Tom!’ shouts Gareth. ‘Now, why don’t the rest of you do the same? Go and find husbands and wives for yourselves! Those are your orders for tonight. But first we’ll all drink to “True Love!”’
‘What about you, Fi?’ Toms asks his sister. ‘Can you see a husband here?’
‘Oh, get lost, Tom!’ replies Fiona.
‘True love!’ They all raise their glasses.
Tom takes the idea seriously. He tries to talk to a pretty woman, ‘A lot of people actually meet their husbands and wives at weddings. Did you know that?’
‘Yes, I met my husband at a wedding,’ she answers him.
‘Oh. Oh well,’ says Tom, and drinks the rest of his wine very quickly. ‘Look at that! My glass is empty. Excuse me –‘
Scarlett seems to be having better luck. The person she is talking to is probably the best-looking man at the wedding. And he’s not wearing Scottish clothes – he’s American.
‘Hello, my name’s Scarlett. Like Scareltt O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, but I’m much less trouble than she was! What’s your name?’
‘My name’s Rhett,’ says the American.
‘No – from the same story? Not Really?’
‘No, not really,’ he smiles. ‘My name’s Chester.’
‘You’re a joker!’ Scarlett laughs. ‘When I meet Americans, I always think that they’re going to be boring. But of course, you’re not boring, are you? You’re lovely!’
Scarlett has to look up a long was when she talks to Chester. He is very tall and she is short. It looks quite funny.
Charles is hiding from Henrietta, but she soon finds him.
‘Oh, hi, Hen! Sorry – I didn’t come to talk to you because I really don’t want an argument today. I’m sure that we’ve got lots to talk about, but not today, Hen, not today!’
‘Did I behave badly, last time?’ Henrietta asks.
‘It was quite frightening,’ says Charles. ‘Like a murder film.’
Henrietta laughs – she is in a good mood. Charles decides that he’s safe with her today, and so he goes on talking to her.
‘Oh, Hen, I’m depressed,’ says Charles. ‘What about you? How are you?’
‘Well, I’m quite happy actually,’ she says. I’ve got a new boyfriend and my weight’s down to almost nothing.’
‘Perhaps you were right, Hen,’ says Charles. ‘Perhaps we should have got married.’
‘God, no!’ says Henrietta. ‘I don’t want to marry your friends too, especially Fiona.’
‘Fiona loves you,’ says Charles.
‘Fiona calls me Duck-Face,’ says Henrietta.
‘I’ve never heard that!’ says Charles.
Henrietta knows that he’s lying. ‘Come to lunch sometime,’ she says. ‘Give me a ring.’ She gives him a gentle kiss on the cheek.
As she walks away, Fiona comes up to Charles. ‘How’s Duck-Face?’ she asks.
‘She’s fine, actually,’ says Charles. ‘Not too mad at the moment.’
‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ says the best man. ‘The bride and groom!’
Hamish and Carrie dance together in the middle of the room. It’s a formal Scottish dance and everybody claps them. Charles and Fiona watch the happy couple with the other guests. Fiona puts her hand on Charles’s shoulder and looks at him. She can see that he looks sad.
‘You like this girl, don’t you Charles?’ asks Fiona.
‘Yes – it’s a strange thing, this love business, when at last it happens…and now she’s marrying another man,’ answers Charles. ‘But what about you, Fifi? Have you met your future husband here?’
‘No – and I won’t – it’s not like that. I’ve been in love with the same man for years.’
‘Have you?’ Charles asks in surprise. ‘Who’s that?’
‘You, Charlie,’ says Fiona, very lightly. Charles stops smiling. He looks shocked. Fiona waks away and goes into a quitter room. Charles follows her.
‘It was always you, ever since we first met,’ says Fiona. ‘I knew that from the first moment I saw you. “Across a crowded room” – you know what they say! But it doesn’t matter. We can’t do anything about it. That’s life. And we’re friends – “friends” isn’t bad, you know. It’s quite good, really.’
Charles was upset, and he feels her pain. A few months ago, he didn’t know love, but now he knows how it feels. He is deeply sorry for her, and takes her hand.
‘Oh Fi! It’s not easy, is it?’
‘No, but forget it – it can’t happen between us, Charles.’
Just then, Matthew comes in. Fiona pretends that nothing has happened.
‘Matthew dear!’ She says brightly. ‘Where’s Gareth?’
‘He’s being rude to Americans,’ Matthew answers.
‘How thoughtful of him!’
Gareth is dancing with an American woman. She looks surprised as he turns round fast and jumps about quite violently. Tom is dancing too, and looking hopefully at every girl in the room. He clearly hasn’t found his future wife yet!
When it’s time for the speeches, Gareth comes back over to his friends, very hot.
‘Ladies and gentlemen fill your glasses, please,’ says the best man. ‘Unusually, the bride will make the first speech.’
‘Excellent,’ says Gareth. ‘I love this girl!’
He looks at Charles – he knows about Charles’s feelings for Carrie now.
‘Thank you,’ says Carrie, as everyone claps her. ‘And thank you to those people who’ve flown in from the United States. Congratulations to the rest of you! You came here, even though you knew that all these terrible Americans were coming too!’
People laugh, and Charles looks at Carrie with love.
‘My dear Dad should be the one to give this speech. But, sadly, he’s not alive today. If he was here, I know what he would say: “Lovely dress, girl! But why the hell are you marrying a man in a skirt?”’
They laugh again, though Hamish is not very pleased with this joke about Scottish clothes.
‘My answer is,’ Carrie continues, ‘”Because I love him.” As John Lennon said, “Love is the answer.” And we all know that.’
The guests clap loudly. Charles can’t believe that he has been so stupid. Why did he let her go? If he hadn’t been so slow he would have been the groom here today.
‘Oh, one more thing!’ says Carrie. ‘Someone here said that if things didn’t go well with Hamish, he would be ready to take his place. Well, thank you, and I’ll let you know!’
It is a very cheeky thing to say, but Hamish laughs loudly. He begins to make his speech now, very confidently. Hamish is not self-conscious. He has had years of practice in public speaking. Suddenly there is a loud noise, a kind of crash, at the back.
‘Oh dear – someone doesn’t agree with me!’ he jokes. ‘No problem! I’m used to that!’
But the crash was Gareth, falling unconscious to the floor. Charles, David and Tom get to him quickly.
‘Find a doctor,’ says Charles, urgently. While Hamish is still speaking, a doctor is found among the wedding guests. He gives Gareth a quick examination. Then they carry him into a quitter room, and put him down gently on the ground. Charles is on his knees, holding Gareth’s head. But it’s too late. Gareth is dead. Then he decides that he must find Matthew quickly among the crowd of guests.
Charles sees Matthew and walks towards him. Just before he reaches him, he stops – it’s a hard moment. Then he moves forward, takes Matthew’s arm and whispers to him. As he tells him about Gareth they can hear the guests behind them begin to sing.


Four Weddings and a Funeral>Chapter 5>A Funeral

It is the day of Gareth's funeral. It takes place in the town where Gareth's parents live, a small and dirty town, full of factories. Gareth didn't come from a rich family. It is raining and grey, and everyone looks very sad. It is a big contrast to the three wonderful weddings. Matthew and Gareth's family are driven to the church in a large black car. In front of them is the car with Gareth's coffin.
Charles arrives at the church and sits down next to Fiona, putting his arm around her. Carrie is there too, quiet and white-faced at the back. The atmosphere is very different from the atmosphere at the weddings. Everybody is wearing dark clothes and nobody is talking.
'Good morning,' the priest welcomes everybody. 'Welcome to you all, on this cold day. Our service will begin in a few minutes, but first we've asked Gareth's closest friend, Matthew, to say a few words.'
Matthew steps forward and stands near the coffin. It has
beautiful flowers on it.
'Gareth preferred funerals to weddings. "One day I shall probably have a funeral," he said, "but a wedding - never!'" People smile and begin to feel a little bit more comfortable.
'I rang a few people and asked them about Gareth. What did they think about him? What comes into their minds when they hear his name? Well, a lot of people said, "Fat." And a lot more said "Terribly rude." So "very fat and very rude" was the way that strangers described Gareth. But then some of you here rang me and said that you loved him. You remember visiting Gareth, and how kind he was to his guests. You remember what an adventurous cook he was. Fortunately, the secrets of some of his dishes, like duck with banana, are 1st forever! Gareth really loved life. I hope you will remember him especially for that.
'How do I remember him? I can't find the words - I'm sorry.
So I've taken the words of that wonderful writer, W H. Auden. This is what I really want to say.'
He reads from a book.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song
I thought that love would last Jor ever: I was wrong.
After the service, people meet and talk outside. It was a very emotional funeral and everybody looks very sad. The car with Gareth's coffin is driven away.
Charles finds Carrie. 'It's good of you to come,' he says. 'But didn't it spoil your honeymoon?'
'Oh, it doesn't matter,' says Carrie. 'We'll do it another time.
You know, that thing you said in the street ... ' 'Yes, I'm sorry about that,' Charles says quickly.
'No, don't be sorry. I liked it. I'm glad that you said it.' She kisses him gently on the cheek, then walks away. He watches her go.
'Would you like a walk, Charlie?' asks Tom. ‘Yes, good idea.'
'I've never felt like that,' says Tom. 'Not like Matthew. Not that kind of love. Well, I felt something for Jilly when I was young-' 'Jilly?' asks Charles, surprised.
'Our family dog,' Tom explains.
'Yes ... ' says Charles. 'It's strange, isn't it, we've all been friends [or years, and we never noticed that Matthew and Gareth were really married, in their own way.'
They have reached the river, but it is not an attractive place ­there are factories all along the banks. Everything looks cold and gloomy. Charles is holding an umbrella as it is still raining.
'It's hardest for his parents,' says Tom. 'I hope I die before my children.'
'You're very confident that you'll get married,' says Charles. 'But should we get married at all, if we can't find the right person? We saw today at the service that there call be a perfect marriage. And if we can't be like Gareth and Matthew, perhaps we should just forget the idea. Some of us won't get married at all.'
'I don't know, Charlie,' says Tom, thoughtfully. 'I don't hope for the perfect marriage. I'm not looking for thunder and lightning. I just want a nice, friendly girl who likes me too. Then we'll get married and be happy. It worked for my. parents - well, it did for years, until they separated '
'Then I give you six months at the most, Tom,' replies Charles. 'You won't have to wait any longer than that. It'll happen before then, you'll see. And maybe you're right. Maybe waiting for true love is quite useless.'


Four Weddings and a Funeral>Chapter 6 >The Fourth Wedding

You are invited to the wedding of Charles and - on July 15th at St Julian's Church, Smithfield, London EC1
It's Charles's wedding day, but even now he's not awake! His male friends gave him a special party last night, and everybody drank too much! The alarm clock rings, Charles turns it off. He gets ready to go back to sleep again. But then another bell rings, and another!
'What the hell's happening?' he asks. He looks around the room. There are twenty or thirty alarm clocks in there with him!
Tom has been sleeping next to him. 'I decided that we mustn't be late!' he says brightly. 'I like your hair-style - excellent for a wedding!' Charles's hair is a total mess. He gets out of bed and goes into the kitchen, still in his underwear. Matthew is already there; he's going to be Charles's best man. Unlike Charles, he looks very smart.
'Matthew - great!' says Charles, sleepily. 'Listen - thanks for doing this today! I wish Gareth was here.' He knows what a hard time Matthew has had recently.
'He'd like to be here too,' says Matthew. 'Sorry we're so late.
The others are just parking the car. We thought that we could all go in Tom's car because it's so big.'
'Late? Is it so late?' asks Charles.
'Yes - it's 9.45.'
'Nine forty-five?' Charles can't believe it. 'Only forty-five minutes until you say, "I do.'"
'Oh God! I wanted the alarm to ring at eight o'clock! I told Tom! Oh, hell!'
Now Scarlett comes in, still in her nightdress. Her hair looks terrible too and she is yawning.
'Scarlett?' Matthew says. 'Are you ready?'
'Oh yes, yes -' she answers sleepily. 'Just give me twenty seconds!' And she makes herself a cup of coffee.
They drive as fast as they can to the church. Charles is still putting on his tie when he gets out of the car. 'What's the time?' he asks urgently.
'Honestly?' asks Matthew. 'You really want to know?' 'Yes - tell me, please!'
'Well,' says Matthew, 'it's about ten to nine.'
Charles keeps on running towards the church, and then suddenly he realizes what Matthew said.
'You rats!' he shouts. His friends all start laughing; they changed the time on all those clocks. If they hadn't played this joke Charles would have been late for his own wedding!
They've got plenty of time now, so they get some coffee and drink it outside on the grass. Fiona decides to make a speech.
'I'll just say a little word,' she begins. 'I've watched Charles's girlfriends come and go for years now. I was worried that he would never get married! But now everything's going to be fine. Unfortunately, his bride is quite crazy - but perhaps that's why he loves her! So let's drink to Charles and his beautiful girl on this sad day. Be happy - and don't forget us!'
'Thank you,' says Charles.
'To Charles - and Duck-Face!'
They raise their plastic coffee cups and drink.
'Thank you, Fiona, for those few kind words about my future wife!' Charles replies. 'She's sent a message for you, too!' He pulls out a piece of paper and reads - or pretends to read - from it. ‘If any of you come near my house, I'll send the dogs out to get you!'"
Everyone laughs, and they set off for the church. Today, perhaps for the first time ever, Charles won't be late!
John is one of the first guests to arrive. He's the man whose wife was still seeing Toby de Lisle. And he's actually Henrietta's brother.
'Hope my sister arrives: he says to Charles. 'You can't have a wedding without a bride, you know. And why didn't you have a party last night?'
'Oh, but we did, we did - we didn't think it was a good idea!' says Charles hurriedly. John, of course, was not invited to the party!
'You look lovely today, Fi: Charles says to Fiona, as they enter the church together. She's wearing a smart jacket of red, blue and other colours.
'Yes: she replies. 'I decided that I wouldn't wear black any more.' Usually, Fiona chooses black or dark colours for her clothes. 'From now on, I'm going to wear bright colours, and find somebody who'll fall in love with me. That'll be different, won't it?'
'You're a dear girl: says Charles, and gives her a friendly kiss. Charles stays alone in the church. He walks around and looks rather uncomfortable and nervous. He doesn't look as happy as bridegrooms usually look on their wedding day.
Outside the church, Scarlett and Matthew are welcoming the guests. As usual, Scarlett is wearing something strange - this time it's a formal wedding suit, but made in a m:ln's style. It looks quite sweet on her, but a little bit odd. Suddenly, she screams! Chester has come - her tall, charming American from Carrie and Hamish's wedding. She is delighted!
I thought that you'd gone back to America!' she says, excitedly.
'Without you?' he asks. 'Never!' And he gives her a big kiss. An old man appears at the door. It's the crazy man who sat next to Charles at the first wedding!
'Bride or groom?' Matthew asks him, so that he can show him where to sit.
The old man looks at him angrily. 'I'm neither!' he says. 'Can't you see?'
Tom is looking after a young lady called Deirdre. 'Bride or groom?' he asks her.
'Bride: she says. She looks like a nice girl - very gentle and pretty. But for Tom, it's something more. It's love at first sight! 'Haven't we met before?' he asks her.
'Yes, we have, about twenty-five years ago. We're cousins ­well, distant cousins!' she smiles at him. 'You're Tom, aren't you?'
'So you're family! Wonderful- well, do sit here, Deirdre,' he says. 'Good God!' he tells himself, as he walks away. 'Thunder and lightning!'
Charles is even more nervous now, as he sees all the guests coming in.
'Good luck!' says the priest, passing by.
Lydia and Bernard arrive together, and Charles goes over to welcome them.
'How are you?' he asks.
'Very tired, actually,' says Bernard.
Then Charles suddenly sees Carrie, who has come alone. He didn't have any idea that she was coming. She's looking elegant but she seems to be in a quiet mood, and a little sad.
'Hi!' he says. 'You look lovely. But then you always look nice at weddings!'
She smiles at him. 'How's Hamish?' he asks.
'Oh, he's fine - I think,' she says.
'You think?' asks Charles, surprised. 'What do you mean?' 'He wasn't the right man for me after all,' she says. 'You've left him?'
'We left each other,' she tells him. She looks quite weak, and Charles leads her to a quiet place at the side of the church w re they can talk.
'When did this happen?' he asks her.
'Oh, a few months ago. March was hell. But by April, we'd made all the decisions and it was OK. I won't marry someone so old again!' She tries to turn it into a joke, but obviously she is not very happy.
'Charlie!' calls Matthew. 'Time to go!'
'Yes, yes - I'm coming,' says Charles, not really listening to him. 'But why didn't you ring me up?'
'Well, I thought about it,' Carrie replies, 'and I wanted to – but things were difficult then. You’d better go now. I'll see you later.' 'I'll show you to your seat,' Charles says. 'We just didn't get it right, did we? If only we'd been together at the right time ... ' 'Yes, we got it wrong,' Carrie says sadly.
'Terrible. Awful,' says Charles, and he means it. 'But it's so lovely to see you!'
'Well, good luck,' says Carrie finally. 'It's very easy, you know, getting married. You just say, "I do" whenever anyone asks you a question.'
'We'd better go to the front,' Matthew tells Charles.
'Can you give me a moment, Matthew?' Charles asks him. 'Of course,' says Matthew, who thinks that Charles wants to go to the toilet.
But Charles is no longer in the right mood for his wedding. He goes into an empty side room and says, 'Dear God, please forgive me for what I am going to say in your church - Damn! Damn! Damn and hell!'
'Can I help you?' asks a sympathetic voice. A priest steps out from behind a curtain in the same room, where he was washing his hands. It seems that the room was not empty.
'Oh - no, thanks!' says Charles, embarrassed. 'I was doing some exercises - you know, for my voice. This is a big church!' 'Excellent, I often do the same myself - I use rather different words, of course. I'll leave you alone now.'
Charles still cannot come back out into the church, and Tom and Matthew are getting worried.
'The bride's arriving now,' says Matthew. A large black car has driven up to the church and Henrietta gets out with her father. She is dressed finely for the wedding, in white, with flowers in her hair.
'Well, that's great,' says Tom. 'Because we've lost the groom.'
'Try to keep her outside for a bit,' says Matthew. 'I'll go and look for Charles.'
'Matthew!' says Charles brightly when he sees his best man.
He is very unhappy. 'Good to see you! Tell me - what do you think about marriage?'
'Well-' says Matthew, uncertain how to answer this. 'I think that it's really good, if you love the other person with all your heart.' 'Exactly,' says Charles. 'But I've been to so many weddings, and now it's my own wedding day - and I'm still thinking.' 'What are you thinking about? Can I ask?'
'No, no - better not,' says Charles.
Tom is now standing at the church door, talking to Henrietta and her f.1ther. 'I'm terribly sorry,' he says. 'The service will be a few minutes late. There's a problem with the flowers.'
'With the flowers?' asks Henrietta. 'What problem?' She clearly doesn't want any problems on her well-planned wedding day. Henrietta gets annoyed very easily.
'Well,' says Tom, thinking hard, 'they are making some people ill, so we have to move them.'
Henrietta and her father look angry, but they wait at the door.
People in the church are getting restless now too. They're wondering what's happening. The bride must have arrived by now. Where is the groom?
'I think they believed me!' Tom tells Scarlett. He is pleased with himself. 'People think I'm stupid, you see. So they don't realize that I can tell a clever lie!'
David has now joined Matthew and Charles in the side room.
Charles still won't go back into the church. He is too unhappy and confused. David hits the table to make a noise, so that Charles will notice him.
'What's happening? Tell me!' he signs.
'Oh, God,' Charles signs back. 'I just saw Carrie. She and Hamish have separated.'
'Charles, it's your wedding day,' David tells him. 'What's your advice?' Charles asks.
'Well, you can do one of three things. Number one: just get married, as you've planned.'
Charles nods.
'Number two: you can go back and say, "Sorry - no wedding today!'" David continues.
'I don't like that idea,' says Charles. 'What's number three?' 'Number three -' signs David. 'Well, I can't think what that is.' 'Hell,' says Charles.
There is a knock on the door, and the priest comes in. 'Hello,' he says, smiling. 'Are you ready to meet the enemy?'
“Are we?' asks Matthew. It's not really a joke at all. Everyone looks at Charles.
'Yes,' says Charles. 'Excellent.'
He tries not to look at Carrie as he walks to the front of the church and sits down. The wedding music starts, and Charles and Matthew stand up together. The doors at the back open, and Henrietta, proud and beautiful, walks down the aisle with her father.
She pulls at her father's arm. She is annoyed with him. 'Don't hold me so tightly, Dad,' she whispers angrily.
The priest begins to read aloud the words of the wedding service. As Charles listens to the priest's words he looks confused and worried. The priest asks whether anyone thinks that Charles and Henrietta should not get married. The question is in the wedding service because that is the law. If either the bride or the groom is already married, for example, then someone may say that they are breaking the law. Usually, of course, no one answers the question. But this time there is a loud noise. David is knocking on his wooden church seat.
'I'm sorry - does someone want to speak?' the priest asks, very surprised.
David puts up his hand. 'Yes - what is it?'
David, of course, can't speak aloud, so he begins to sign to Charles.
'One second,' says Charles, as he signs back. 'What's going on?' 'I thought of idea number three,' David tells him.
'What?'
'Will you translate?' 'Translate what?'
'What's happening, Charles?' asks the priest. 'Charles - what?' asks his bride.
'He wants me to translate what he's saying,' says Charles. 'And what is he saying?' asks the priest.
'He says: "I suspect that the groom is having doubts. I suspect that he would like to delay the wedding. I suspect that the groom ... '"
'Really loves another woman,' signs David. Charles does not translate this. 'It's true, isn't it, Charles? Think about it, because it's for the rest of your life, Charles. It's final. So you must only marry the person who you love with all your heart. And - your trousers are undone!'
It is a kind of joke, but Charles looks down at the zip on his trousers. He is totally confused.
'What's he saying?' asks the priest.
'He suspects that the groom loves another woman,' answers Charles.
'And do you? Do you, Charles?'
Charles is silent for a moment. Everybody in the church looks shocked. They are all staring at Charles. Henrietta is staring at Charles too. She can't believe this is happening.
'I do,' he replies, in the words of the wedding service.
Suddenly, Henrietta screams. She throws down her flowers and hits Charles hard in the eye. He falls over, and she hits and kicks him again. She has really lost her temper this time! She is very, very angry, and maybe a little crazy too. Some people rush to the front of the church to help Charles. Other people try to stop Henrietta attacking him. The situation gets very confused. The wedding is certainly not going to happen today!
Back in Charles's kitchen later that afternoon, everyone is still shocked. Outside it is pouring with rain and the thunder crashes it the sky.
'My God!' says Scarlett. For once, she doesn't really know what to say.
'Well,' says Tom, trying to be helpful. 'At least we won't forget this wedding! I mean, a lot of weddings are the same, aren't they? Afterwards, you can't remember them at all. But this one was really different!'
'Yes - it didn't have a wedding service,' says Matthew, in a dry voice.
Charles doesn't say anything. He has a black eye.
'Poor girl,' says Fiona. 'No, I really mean it - poor girl! OK, she's not my favourite person in the world. But you've done a terrible thing, Charles - I think it's quite unforgivable.'
Charles is shocked too. He can't quite believe that he did this. 'Poor Hen,' he says, 'I don't even want to think about it, it's so awful.'
'But if you weren't sure that you wanted to marry her on your wedding day, then it was probably the right decision, wasn't it?' Tom asks.
Usually, Fiona is rude about everything that Tom says. But now she simply says, 'You're right, Tom,' and touches his cheek lovingly.
'It's a lovely dress,' says Scarlett. 'I'm sure it'll be useful for parties!'
'I blame myself,' signs David. 'What did he say?' asks Matthew.
'He says that he blames himself,' Charles translates.
'No!' shouts everyone together. 'No, you mustn't do that, David!'
'Yes, they blame you too!' Charles unkindly tells his brother. The doorbell rings, and everyone gets up.
'No,' says Charles. 'I'll answer it. If there's a problem, it's my problem.'
But it's Carrie at the door. It's pouring with rain, and she's very wet.
'Hello,' she says.
'Hi! God, you're wet!' says Charles. 'Come in!'
'No, no, I'm fine,' she replies. 'I'm so wet that I can't get any wetter. Do you know what I mean?' She smiles at him, but she's also very serious.
'OK - then I'll come out,' Charles says.
'No, please don't!' says Carrie. 'I just wanted to see if you were all right. I wanted to make sure that you weren't killing yourself or anything.'
But Charles steps out and joins her in the rain. They stand together on the pavement, and after a few seconds, he is completely wet too.
'It was wrong of me to come to the church this morning ­I'm sorry. I can see that you're OK, so I'd better go now.'
'No -wait- I'm to blame, not you,' says Charles. ‘I behaved really badly today. But I'm sure about one thing now - marriage is not right for me at all. And I learnt another thing. When I was standing there in the church, I realized for the first time that I totally, completely love one person, with all my heart. And that person wasn't my bride. It's the person who's here with me now, in the rain.'
'Is it still raining?' asks Carrie. 'I didn't notice.'
'In fact, I've loved 'you since the first minute I saw you. You're not suddenly going away again, are you?' he asks in alarm.
'No, I might be washed away by the rain, but I'm not going away again.'
'OK, OK, we'll go hack in,' says Charles. 'But first, can J ask you one thing? Do you think - do you think that you could agree not to marry me? After we've got dry again, of course. And after we've spent lots of time together. Do you think that you could agree notto be married to me, for the rest of your life?'
Carrie looks at him, her eyes very serious now. 'Do you?' he asks her.
'I do,' she answers, in the words of the wedding service.
They kiss - and above, in the stormy skies of London, there is thunder and lightning for Charles too.
And how does the future go? Well, if we move forwards in time and take some more photos, we see something like this:
A picture of Henrietta at herwedding. She's forgotten all about Charles now; she's marrying a handsome soldier. He's wearing a uniform with a red jacket, and she's laughing as they leave the church.
And here's a picture of Charles's brother David, marrying Serena. They both look very sweet - a good couple!
What about Scarlett? Yes, here's a picture of her - she's getting married to Chester, her big American. She's wearing something different, as usual - a white cow-girl hat.
There's a picture of Tom and Deirdre too, taken at their wedding reception. They're outside Tom's enormous house. Tom’s black dog is in the photo too, and Deirdre is wearing the 'country girl' wedding dress that Carrie refused to buy.
Here's one of Matthew, looking happy again. He's found a new boyfriend. He's younger than Gareth - about the same age as Matthew. They're at a party together. It's good that Matthew can leave all his old sadness behind.
And Fiona? Who's she with? Well, it seems to be Prince Charles! They're not exactly married yet, but she's out with him in public. He looks serious, as usual, but she's wearing an enormous pink hat and has got a big smile on her face.
Charles and Carrie are still not married. At least, there are no wedding photos, so they can't have got married. They must have kept their promise. But they do have a baby - a lovely little boy. In our photo, Charles is pointing at the camera and Carrie is smiling. We can see that they're very happy together, and that they're getting on fine without the sound of wedding bells!