It has oft been said, to work with children and animals is a recipe for mishap. Not so in my experience this year.
I was taught not to tie the actual rings to the bird tasked with delivering them … in the past I have had one owl who had other things on her mind and disappeared into the rafters of a barn; any amount of enticement resulting is a disdainful turning to face the wall.
This year a barn owl called Ellen did the honours, she was exemplary, flew in on cue straight as a die and delivered the dummy rings to me as though it was second nature.
She made the day extra special, particularly for the youngest page boy, an avid fan of Hedwig. I think Ellen became Hedwig for the day.
Other rings have been delivered by a charming beagle called Fern; on a beach which was slightly nerve wracking – can you imagine losing valuable rings amongst the lapping waves and pebbles on a beach? Luckily Fern was on form and played her part beautifully as did her partner in crime, the youngest best man of my acquaintance, Toby. Toby escorted his Mother to the beach, helped me to tie the cords in the hand-fasting and made a speech, I am in awe of his presence and style – but then his Mother did a rap as well, so I guess they have form!
I was lucky enough to have a horse drawn hearse at a funeral at the new Charlton Park Crematorium in Andover. It was a beautiful sunny day and the mourners gathered in festival attire to celebrate a life cut short. The horses, Nico and Paco had multi-coloured plumes and there were flags and music and photos of all her treasured pets, as well as her two dogs in attendance. No chance of anything going wrong as the horses were a beautifully matched pair of greys, as familiar with their job as their coachman.
Life is to be celebrated and it is good to work with children and animals, they bring a freshness and an unpredictability to events of every sort.
The work of a Celebrant is exactly that; to celebrate life and love and death and all the foibles of humanity and animal kind alike.