For this speech I've tried to stick to the theme of wedding, by starting to think about it a decade ago but not actually preparing it until the very last minute. Seriously, my initial notes for this speech were made on a Psion 3a [do not wait too long for a laugh here] and I'd actually moved them to my Archive folder, where I dump documents that I'm never going to get round to finishing. And yet here we are, at last.
I first met Ian in our first week at Oxford University, in a strange man's bedroom. I was a young mathematician, it was... [count on fingers] 15ish years ago, and we had been brought together by a common love of science fiction. That bedroom was stacked with fruit boxes full of weird books of... shall we say... a bracing diversity of quality, and that strange man was Peter Sidwell, president and librarian of the Oxford University Speculative Fiction Group, pronounced OUSFG [pause for whooping]. Of course, it's possible that we actually met earlier, at OUSFG's introductory drinks party, but my memories of that afternoon are hazy. Or, strictly speaking: limited. I remember a bucket full of handmade punch and a young lady in a low-cut velvet dress, but very little else... Still something obviously persuaded us both to go along to the first library meeting. Probably Fate, I should think.
It's strange to think back to the timid young undergraduates that we once were. For all the futuristic fiction they read, could they possibly have predicted what the subsequent years would bring? Look as us today, both living in Oxford in houses lined with bookshelves and filled with computers, meeting up on a weekly basis with a bunch of fellow science fiction geeks to discuss books, films and TV, drink booze, play board games and stay up too late... Well, OK, it's not that unexpected. There is one thing, however, that I think might have surprised us: that through OUSFG we would meet not only friends, but girlfriends.
For it came to pass that two years later we were at OUSFG's introductory drinks party again. This time Ian and I were the seasoned veterans serving the drinks, and the two innocent young first-years knocking them back were Jo and Ruth. As I recall OUSFG had been banned from serving the punch by then, but something still persuaded them both to start coming to meetings. Is it too much to suggest that it was me? (By which I mean 'us', obviously.) Actually, it was probably the chance to borrow books and play Settlers, but whatever, it obviously worked. They joined, and within a couple of weeks Jo and I found that we were going out, rather to our surprise (and, indeed, to the surprise of my soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend at the time).
It won't surprise anyone to learn that it took Ian and Ruth a little longer to get round to it... In fact, the tale of their meeting is actually surpassed in geekiness by the way they finally got together. It was on a roleplaying pub crawl with the Douglas Adams Society in which we were all assigned characters to play for the evening, and (in an act of unsubtle but effective social engineering by the organisers), Ian and Ruth were Zaphod & Trillian from The Hitchikers' Guide To The Galaxy. For those of you not familiar with the characters, that's the vain and feckless President of the Galaxy and the smart and pretty earth girl he hits on. Clearly a match made in geek heaven, and they've been together ever since, eventually making the most profound expression of committment and trust possible... when they got a joint mortgage a few years ago [wipe tear from eye]. And now there's this, which is really just the icing on the cake. Still, everyone knows the icing is the best bit [gesture at OMFG EPIC cake by way of illustratation]
So here we are, in the futuristic year of 2010. We don't have jetpacks, but we do have robots to do the hoovering for us so it's not a complete let-down. And, as they travel, at one second per second, into the future together, let's raise a glass to Ian & Ruth...