Even in retirement, Padre Peter continues to be known as one of the most entertaining marriage celebrants on the Costa del Sol…
Last week we caught up with Padre Peter, and discussed his upcoming “adieu” to conducting marriage nuptials, however, one thing intrigued us, afterall Padre Peter had once said there “there is a limit to the amount of brandy one can drink whilst sitting in the sun and watching the world go by” so whilst chatting, we couldn’t help but ask: “What will you do with yourself now?” (Or perhaps we should have asked, what won’t you be doing?)
Rising in the morning, I perform the customary ablutions and clerical observances. I then, like George Burns, ascertain from the obituaries on the net that I am still in the land of the living, at which point I feed my seven beautiful cats and my dear wife, in that order; as otherwise the furry beauties can be remarkably disruptive of domestic harmony. I watch Al Jazeera and Euronews to see what latest disasters have occurred worldwide, before tuning in to the BBC for a little light relief, often provided by the British Prime Minister and his pathetic gang of parliamentary lickspittles.
I attend to correspondence, emails, and any bits of writing necessary, before preparing lunch, fortified by a little pastis. After lunch a siesta calls. The evening is customarily spent in front of the television, glass in hand and cat on knee. (I eat only once a day and there is frequently more than one cat). I retire at eleven sharp to read for an hour or two, alternating between heavy and light literature. From time to time this gentle rhythm is broken by shopping, lunches, dinners, and meetings. I still celebrate the occasional baptism, wedding or funeral as I remain a priest! (Indeed, this week I am conducting a major annual church service for a large organisation, after which we shall have lunch).
Pam, my wife, shields me from the occasional unwanted telephone call, and as we are somewhat isolated in our habitation, visitors, happily, are rare. When they do appear, however, unless they have wills of iron or a remarkable tolerance to alcohol, they are often incapable of driving away. This is a problem which upsets the cats’ equilibrium as much as my own. As Old Possum would undoubtedly have remarked, “Thus in its way passes Bustofer’s day”.
The advice that I normally give to eager bridegrooms, irrespective of whether they wish to get married in Spain or not, is always to ensure that they get the last word…”Yes, dear!”. I am not at all sure that I have always observed my own advice, but we have still managed to reach 54 years of wedded bliss. But what advice to give to those who specifically want to get married in Spain? There is, I think, one overriding piece of advice; get a good wedding planner. Naturally I would, and do, suggest that the “happy couple” contact Sunshine Weddings in Spain. I have dealt with a number of planners over the years, and some have been pretty frightful. Indeed, there are one or two whom I would not touch with the end of my pastoral staff, which is adorned with a spike (in the good old days this was used to bring unruly faithful to heel). With Sunshine Weddings, however, one is always assured that every possible detail will be covered, even to the extent that some suppliers may feel slightly chivvied in the process. There is little other useful advice that one could give, as given the regulations of both Church and state, a guide is clearly essential, particularly if you do not speak the language.
What do you mean, what am I going to do with my ceremonial ruff and robe? I am going to continue to wear them! I still have one or two non-religious ceremonies booked, and so I will retain one of my ruffs. I may give the other to one of the local Lutheran ministers (probably the Danish Church) who wear them normally in church. As I have told various organisers I am still available for people who live locally and who require such a service. My “robe”, as you put it, is actually a combination of either my cassock and doctoral undress gown, or my cassock and rasson (an Orthodox priest’s sort of overcoat). So I still need them and wear them! In church celebrations (again for which I am still available as they fall under the category of normal priestly functions) I shall continue to wear alb and stole, or vestments. And as the Bishop of Lichfield once muttered to me as a particularly gushing devotee took her leave after meeting us unexpectedly in the cathedral, “Does she realise we wear underpants like anyone else?”