An ordinary kind of diversity

a montage of 18 different hats, all distinct and exotic.“Welcome to the Northamptonshire heats of the ‘Whose Wearing the Most Preposterous Hat?’ competition.”

So began the bridegroom’s speech of a friend of mine as he married his wonderful wife, originally from Zimbabwe, in the presence of friends and relatives from all over.

There was a sharp intake of breath – then slow building ripple of laughter as we all looked around the room and saw the amazing diversity of our finest hats and headpieces. Sculptural hats rising up in silk and taffeta, intricately folded fabrics matching ceremonial robes, a traditional English ‘mother of the groom’ hat complete with attached flower garden – hats with veils, hats with wires, hats with foliage, feathers and features like you wouldn’t believe (and of course, my own multi-coloured fascinator worn at a jaunty angle).

We were in the backroom of a pub in a village in Northants, at an ordinary wedding of ordinary people – and we were splendid in our diversity. Not just of hats either – the memory of 70-year-old Uncle Ken getting down to some traditional South African dances will stay with many of us for a very long time indeed.

I’m usually wary of ‘celebrating’ diversity. My approach is usually less ‘saris and samosas’ (well-meaning highlighting of exotic difference) and more about recognizing, respecting and utilizing difference for positive effect within the work that I do. But this was a day for celebration – celebration of our differences, our similarities and one couples love for each other and their family.

Why am I posting this today? Sadly the beautiful bride passed away today and this is my tribute to her. Miss you.