July, 2011

Jul 11

Madrid hen

When you’re a hen, the world seems to revolve around you. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like being the centre of attention, you probably won’t like it.

It’s sort of hard to fade into the background when you’re wearing a veil and tiara combo and a silver sash with the words ‘bride-to-be’ emblazoned on them.

Not that I’m complaining mind you – I loved every single minute.

I am beyond impressed with my friend Emma, who planned the whole thing – the attention to detail was amazing.

She’d stocked up on my favourite drinks – Martini blanco and Pacharan – for the down time when we had to get ready at her flat. And even invested in a CD of 100 Eighties hits for us to listen to.

There were even little Union Jack flags on my sash – just in case there was any doubt as to what nationality we all were.

Thankfully there were no phallus-shaped accessories, L Plates or strippers. It all felt very classy – even when we were fully on the rampage out in town at four in the morning.

We even managed to stumble across a group of French stags in the same club. As I chatted away to the groom you could see the look of confusion on some people’s faces – one passer by stopped to ask me why on earth I would have my hen party in the same place as my future husband was having his bachelor party!

I’ve never had so many nice chats and comments from total strangers. Even people singing wedding marches and shouting “viva la novia” was kind of nice.

Some people didn’t get it at all though. “Are you celebrating something?” One guy asked.

“No, I dress like this all the time,” I told him, to which he answered: “Oh, right, OK,” before wandering off.

It wasn’t all rampaging around town, though. On Saturday day, after a lovely picnic at the picturesque Templo de Debod, the biggest surprise of the weekend was a session of laughter therapy.

It was absolutely brilliant. If you’ve never played el gato tonto or been a tree while all your friends are butterflies, you haven’t lived. At one point we’d attracted an audience of about 20 Japanese tourists and two police cars – we must have looked like a right bunch of weirdos.

I can’t imagine having more fun in one weekend – surely being a hen must be a taster of what’s to come on the big day?

As the weekend was drawing to a close the girls gave me the most wonderful present – a book filled with pictures of us all together and the most lovely messages.

Me – being me – I couldn’t help shed a tear.

I am so lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing people in my life – I don’t know what I would do without my gorgeous friends.

So thanks so much to all my Madrid hens – you made it the most special weekend ever.

Jul 11

What’s in a name?

I remember being a teenager, going through that feminist stage that most young girls do.

And I found out – and what a revelation this was – that it wasn’t ‘The Law’ that you had to take your husband’s surname once you got hitched.

Amazing. In that case, I was totally going to keep mine.

“There’s absolutely no way I would change my name if I got married,” I told my friends in the sixth form, who probably nodded in agreement.

We’d never lose our identities because of some man. Humph to that.

But as I got older I kind of changed my mind. Not that I didn’t like my surname. (Oh it never got boring being serenaded with Mrs Robinson by boys that thought it would impress you.)

It’s just it seemed like a nice thing to do – the perfect symbol of starting a new chapter of your life.

Not that I was going to become one of those girls that starts practicing her new signature (inserting her new boyfriend’s surname in place of her own). Oh no, not me – not in this life, anyway.

I was all prepared to give up my surname. So imagine my disappointment when I learned that Spanish brides all, without exception, keep their own names.

J tried to explain it to me. I would still be a Mrs – ie Señora whatever, but I would still be Katherine Robinson. Our children – like all Spanish children, would have two surnames – His first, followed by mine.

A perfect blend of Spanish and British – just like our future kids would be.

OK, but I felt cheated. True, on the plus side – I wouldn’t have to change my passport, or my work email or my Facebook name or anything, but it was the principal of the matter.

The choice had been taken away from me. It would look weird if I did take his name, because the only other women who had it in his family would be his sisters.

And it’s such a fun surname to have – Borrachero, which basically means drunkard. Mrs Drunkard – it’s just brilliant.

Actually, I should clarify that the origins of the name don’t really come from the verb emborrachar (i.e. to get drunk). People who’ve traced it think it could have come from Portugal, where a ‘boracha’ is a typical container for olive oil and wine.

Or it could be something to do with the Borrachero plant, which grows in Mexico. Perhaps in days of old, the people who farmed or picked these plants, which have medicinal uses, adopted the surname.

There are very few people in Spain who have it as a surname. People do a double take – and sometimes laugh (how rude!) – whenever J has to tell people – whether to book a table at a restaurant or whatever.

When he was paying in a shop once, one guy even borrowed his ID to show it to his friends ‘cos he couldn’t believe it.

The icing on the cake is that J’s father’s full last name is Borrachero Tirado (you could interpret this as ‘fallen down drunkard’, with the literal translation) And he doesn’t even drink!

Anyway, I’m getting off the point. What I really wanted to say is that I love my future husband’s unique surname, and I’m sad I won’t be taking it.

But really I don’t need a new name to prove to myself I’m married, or starting a new chapter.

In many ways I feel like I’ve already turned the page.

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