First Person: Bridal veil fire cant quash spirits at wartime wedding

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The meal was over, the speeches ended at our wedding on that sunny July day in 1940 in England. I was sitting with my husband enjoying the scene — the beautiful flower arrangements, the customary candles burning brightly and people coming forward with good wishes.

One of the guests smilingly handed me a package across the table. I reached forward, only to be pulled back sharply, and an awful feeling that my hair was being pulled out by the roots.

I had moved a little too close to the candles and my filmy veil had caught fire. A young man standing nearby had immediately pulled the veil and headdress from my head unaware that they had been secured with bobby pins. My poor head!

Pandemonium reigned. People were milling around. Maurice who had just acquired a wife had visions of her going up in flames. There was a lot of noise.

The situation was getting out of hand when a little old lady pushed her way through the crowd. She looked at me for a second or two — then reached forward and patted my cheeks very firmly with her tiny hands.

"Darling," she said in a very loud voice, "Darling, don't worry, don't worry. It's very lucky to catch fire on your wedding day!"

There was an explosion of laughter — peace and tranquillity restored and the celebrations resumed.

After 55 years of a happy marriage I can truly say that the little old lady was right!

And the gift that triggered the memorable event was a lovely embroidered tablecloth, which we still have.