A couple of Sundays ago, Camilla and Matt Burke were quietly celebrating their silver wedding anniversary with lunch and a few drinks amongst close friends and family when there was a knock on the door. The stranger at first claimed to be a work colleague from way back, but after accepting a glass (or two) of wine, stepped out into the sunshine and declaimed to Matt’s surprise, this rather long tribute which Camilla had secretly organised.
Camilla Meets Her Matt-ch (or possibly Game, Sex and Matt-ch?
In case you’re wondering just who I am,
relax, rest assured, I’m no strip-o-gram.
I’m some kind of local poet or worse,
charged with deliv’ring this anniversary verse.
Let me tell you the story (and I’ll keep it brief
for Life whizzes by and Time’s such a thief)
of a young girl called Bennett, Camilla by name,
whose Welsh Mountain ponies won gymkhana fame.
With horsey obsession and thick goggle specs,
she failed to attract the opposite sex,
thus missing out on a high school romance
till Fate and a friend gave her a second chance.
At school, Matt’s football won out in the yard.
The Hesketh Tavern was where Camilla starred.
November 5th., ’85 was a high.
This time the fireworks weren’t all in the sky.
Camilla had doted on “Misty” and “Taffy”.
Now it was Matt’s wit and charm drove her daffy.
The “bee” in her Bennett she dreamed would “bee” Burke
though 7 years would pass until they made it work.
As a couple each complemented the other
and enhanced their tastes, but didn’t smother.
Camilla had been dazzled by Luther Vandross.
Now she liked Prefab Sprout, the Smiths and the Boss.
Nowadays there’s room for Elbow’s CDs
whether played softly or as loud as you please.
Just right to accompany Matt’s carbonara
or “Gone With the Wind” and Scarlet O’Hara.
Meanwhile, Life was good, like one long holiday:
Italy, Majorca, you name it, they’d stay.
Then in 19 90, they flew off to Oz.
They needed no reason. They went just “because”.
Uncle Richard lived where the broad Brisbane flowed,
(along with “4X”), so they chose Rainworth Road.
Each found a job in a McDonald Drive-Thru.
At Maccas, the burgers were beef, croc or roo.
After 5 months’ hard labour, they were transported,
but by greyhound bus (not as convicts escorted):
The Outback’s stark beauty, its vastness, a shock:
the Great Barrier Reef; the Red Centre (Ayres Rock);
the Aussie crown jewel, Surfers’ Paradise on earth;
and Sydney and Melbourne and Adelaide and Perth;
That’s why a return trip tops their bucket list,
to Down Under’s cities and beaches sun-kissed.
So, tinged with regret, their year was soon over,
time to head home for the white cliffs of Dover,
settle down, get married, set the Big Day:
for 19 92, the 15th. of May.
All Saints Parish Church, Cheadle Hulme, was the venue,
then Adlington Hall’s Hunters’ Lodge wedding menu
and two weeks in Majorca as husband and wife,
then back to Macclesfield, jobs and real life.
A Ryle Street cottage for Matt and Camilla
was their dream chateau, their palace, their villa.
Of clerical work she’s done more than her stint
and Matt’s in procurement. That’s all I can print.
His McCann Erikson portfolio’s Aldi.
(Had it been for Four Seasons, I’d squeeze in Vivaldi).
In the background, his passion’s photography
and he’d rather do that, between you and me.
Their life together was not quite complete.
They longed for that patter of two tiny feet.
Twice they came close, but it wasn’t to be,
so they adopted a way to have family.
First there was Shane, born 5th. of November.
(That date keeps recurring, I’ll have you remember).
Five years later, came William, October 2nd.
A warm, loving family environment beckoned.
Where two had been cosy, there were now four of them.
They moved to a bigger house close to the “crem.”
West Brook Drive was their haven. It was and is still
for Matt and Camilla and second son, Will.
Did I mention labradors, Inka and Tess,
cats, Tallulah and Leo, live at this address?
They line up for breakfast at 8 am sharp.
For 6 o’clock tea, they miaow, bark and parp.
There’d been other pets: black cats, Minstrel and Sooty
and Scooby the dog in whose paws they were putty.
Way back Matt’s tortoise was Fausto Coppi by name,
but a menagerie like this just isn’t the same.
Scooby a mongrel was Heinz 57.
Sadly, aged 17, she went up to dog heaven.
At home the bosses are Tallulah and C.,
a mat-riarchy (spelled with only one “t”).
Who’d play M and C in the film of their Life?
Eric Morecambe for Matt, Julie Walters his wife.
He’d have specs on his head. She’d do C’s mimic’s voice,
For the script, Alan Bennett’s the obvious choice.
Man City (not Luton) would have a big role,
the theme tune “Blue Moon”. In the park it’s a stroll.
Somehow Shane’s support’s for those devils in red
(and I’m a fan too, but that’s quite enough said).
There’s lots more to tell you, but I’ll draw to a close.
If a poem’s soporific, there’s a risk that you’ll doze.
It’s 20 17, wed 25 years,
it’s time for some bubbly and good wines and beers.
It’s speech which is silver, though Silence is golden.
Camilla and Matt, this occasion embolden.
Let’s raise glasses high to the next 25
with good wishes echoing round West Brook Drive.
“CAMILLA and MATT, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!”