As it comes into view, my heart sinks. I freaked out when Kevin told me we were staying on an island, but I didn’t imagine it would be literally us in the only house there, with just a lighthouse at the other end for company. Three of us aren’t speaking already and that’s just in this car. God knows how the in-laws are getting on in the minibus. It’s going to be like a game of bloody Cluedo at this rate.
It had never been a good idea. Why can’t families just accept they don’t get on instead of shoehorning themselves into tiny spaces at times like Christmas and expecting things to be different this time round? If I’ve learned one thing in recent years it’s that blood counts for nothing. How does sharing a bit of ancient DNA with someone mean you’re going to get on, let alone love each other?
I glance in the back. Mark’s gone to sleep, Bernie’s got her ipod in and Harry is in one humdinger of a sulk. You’d think he was still a teenager the way he goes on. And he nearly wrecked my wedding with his drinking.
The wedding seems ages ago now, even though I’ve been married less than 24 hours. It wasn’t really what I had in mind. What I had in mind was me and Kev, our parents and siblings, maybe a friend or two, somewhere warm like the South of France, the air scented with lavender, a quick ceremony in a tiny old church then a little party on a farm with a wedding breakfast of baguettes and brie and local wine. But I let Kev’s mum impress on me that it was selfish to get married abroad; her sister would be deeply hurt not to be invited but couldn’t travel abroad, not with her leg. For a quiet life I agreed on the equivalent wedding in the Cotswolds. And then it grew. My folks were as bad, invoking a long list of relatives and family friends and extended cousins who couldn’t be missed out. Then I heard some of my old university friends were upset I hadn’t invited them so I had to pretend I hadn’t sent all the invitations out at the same time and of course theirs was in the post and of course they were welcome. And then it turned out they’d all recently got into relationships and their partners had to come too. And then it felt weird that some bloke I’d never met would be at my wedding just because he was going out with Fiona, while some of my old friends wouldn’t and so they had to come too. And their other halves.
Before I knew it, getting married in a pretty summer frock I already owned wasn’t acceptable and I had to do the whole meringue shebang. And then Kev got drunk at the reception, made a fool of himself on the dancefloor at the tacky mobile disco we’d hired. So now we’re not speaking.
The only way onto the island is by boat which the landlord has arranged. The boatman is utterly cheerless and huffs and puffs while everyone gets parked. Finally we’re all loaded on, with all our stuff, and a grim silence descends as we slowly float towards the island. I give one longing glance back at the mainland, all hope of escape evaporating, and turn towards the big house where we’re all going to be incarcerated for a fortnight. This is going to be a rubbish honeymoon.