John Watson. My friend, John Watson. John.
When John first broached the subject of being best man, I was confused. I confess at first I didn’t realise he was asking me. When finally I understood, I expressed to him that I was both flattered and surprised. I explained to him that I had never expected this request and I was a little daunted in the face of it. I nonetheless promised that I would do my very best to accomplish a task which was, for me, as demanding and difficult as any I had ever contemplated. Additionally, I thanked him for the trust he had placed in me and indicated that I was, in some ways, very close to being moved by it. It later transpired that I’d said none of this out aloud.
I’m afraid John, I can’t congratulate you. All emotions, and in particular love, stand opposed to the pure, cold reason I hold above all things. A wedding is, in my considered opinion, nothing short of a celebration of all that is false and specious and irrational and sentimental in this ailing and morally comprimised world. Today we honoour the death-watch beetle that is the doom of our society and, in time- one feels certain- our entire species.
But anyway, let’s talk about John.
If I burden myself with a little help-mate during my adventures, it is not out of sentiment or caprice- it is that he has many fine qualities of his own that he has overlooked in his obsession with me. Indeed, any reputation I have for mental acuity and sharpness comes, in truth, from the extraordinary contrast John so selflessly provides. It is a fact, I believe, that brides tend to favour exceptionally plain bridesmaids for their big day. There is a certain analogy there, I feel. And contrast is, after all, God’s own plan to enhance the beauty of his creation, or it would be if God were not a ludicrous fantasy designed to provide a career opportunity for the family idiot.
The point I’m trying to make is that I am the most unpleasant, rude, ignorant and all-round obnoxious arsehole that anyone could possibly have the misfortune to meet.
I am dismissive of the virtuous, unaware of the beautiful, and uncomprehending in the face of the happy. So if I didn’t understand I was being asked to be best man, it is because I never expected to be anybody’s best friend. Certainly not the best friend of the bravest and kindest and wisest human being I have ever had the good fortune of knowing.
John, I am a ridiculous man. redeemed only by the warmth and constancy of your friendship. But, as I’m apparently your best friend, I cannot congratulate you on your choice of companion.
Actually, now I can.
Mary, when I say you deserve this man, it is the highest compliment of which I am capable. John, you have endured war, and injury, and tragic loss (so sorry again about that last one)
So know this: today you sit between the woman you have made your wife and the man you have saved – in short, the two people who love you most in all this world. And I know I speak for Mary as well when I say we will never let you down, and we have a lifetime ahead to prove that.