The Borderlands and Beyond (Bachelorhood)

A record turnaround and I’m off to Canadia for Barton’s wedding. I use my few hours back in Manchester to great effect – supping wine while Licky massages my steaming feet/washes the carbon from my footprints. Then it’s away to London (a city which I know only from the postcards, following the ancient Manchester tradition of thoroughly ignoring it while there) and on across the Atlantic, by way of clockwork catapult this time. While hardly smooth, the journey in our specially hollowed-out comet is going well, until a familiar-looking shape appears from the blackest of clouds. It is Bateman, of course, in his famous Phallic Flyer – a machine so suggestive that even the brawniest of our air stewardesses blushes like a pilot caught (twice) over the limit (again).

‘Woah there!’ he bellows, slapping a leather glove against our stony-faced exterior, ‘Where do you thing you’re going?’

Fortunately for us, the navigator is able to maintain just enough speed to prevent us becoming but a drop in the ocean.

‘To bloomin’ Canadia,’ I retort – omitting curses to spare my bucolic family from the muck and brass of town.

‘Behold my Bachelor preserver,’ he gestures up and down his silver sheath, ‘come to save Barton from eternal error!’

‘He’s getting bloomin’ married,’ I splutter, ‘like all of us – most of us – will one day, now get out of our way good sir.’

At which Bateman fires what can only be described as a salami-based projectile towards our vessel. Mrs Bargreaves, preparing an eight-inch thick lasagne for the assembled passengers and crew, reacts quicker than those salivating around her, lifing her prized baking tray to the heavens and deflecting Bateman’s ill-intended missile towards Alderon. Defeated, he reverses dangerously - back towards his Cheshire headquarters.

We touch down safely in Alberta, are met by Marny, her brother and his wife and begin the short journey to their folks’ snug retreat in the Borderlands. Eighteen hours later we are sat eating pancakes and maple syrup while looking out at a wedding cake landscape that encompasses British Columbia, Montana and lots of white space in between. If the geography is intimidating the new family is anything but. With Smoky Uncle Bargreaves due to arrive the next day the only daunt taunting me is how to deliver a memorable best man’s speech while sober, to the sober, who will no doubt remember it as faithfully as the hymns I can only mime to.

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