18th April – decades of a date

18th April 1986 – I am 27 years old and it is my wedding day…

18th April, 1966
It is a *Monday, the first regular school day after the *Easter break. I am not yet eight years old. Am I looking forward to my day at school? I can’t be sure.
18th April, 1976
It is a *Sunday and I am three and half months shy of my 18th birthday. The day has no significance for me yet, and I have no memory attached to it. However, it’s about a month before my final school exams, my A-levels, the results of which will help or hinder the next few steps I take into my future. My preparations are well underway and the end of the academic year is in sight. After thirteen years of school I have decided, regardless of my results, that I will take a break, a year out, get a job if I can, travel if not.

There is a memory, and it might as well be from this day, the sun is shining above the Downs, the sky is blue and where it comes down to the south it meets a dark blue line – the sea. This is the year I discover punk rock, but not just yet. As I dress in the morning I am singing along with Johnny Nash on the radio:

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.
I can see all obstacles in my way.
Gone are the dark clouds that had me black,
It’s gonna be a bright, bright, bright
Sunshiny day.

18th April, 1986
I am 27 years old and it is my wedding day. The future Mrs SC and I will marry today in a civil ceremony at a house in Gamla Linköping. We have chose the short ceremony – three minutes long – and I have practiced saying “Ja!” with conviction in the right place.

It has not been a great year so far – Chernobyl, the Palme assassination, and I’m in a dispute with my employers over terms and conditions – but it’ll get better from here on, won’t it?

We have no money and have chosen to have a very modest day. No relatives from either side and as guests only our witnesses – friends we have got to know during the academic year. Merzad has come down from Uppsala where Agneta is studying. Stefan, who works with me, has come over from his flat in the town centre. We walk across town and on the way buy a bouquet of Marguerite daisies for Agneta. We are married by a man called Goding* – something the bride finds exceptionally funny – and then walk home again to open a bottle of champagne.

It is a good day, though I’m a little sad, afterwards, that no one from England came to surprise us despite their non-invitation.

18th April, 1996
It is an ordinary *Thursday in another busy week and we forget it has any significance until long after. It passes unobserved, our tin anniversary. The metal seems appropriate. It is not an easy time for either of us. We are both working more than full-time on interesting, challenging, all consuming projects over and above our regular jobs.

We live in Sundsvall in the north of Sweden where we have lived for eight years (and where we will live for another year and a half, though we don’t know that). We both have – by our lights – good incomes, but no time. No time. The dark clouds are gathering. The sunshine is dulled.

18th April, 2006
Two days after *Easter, we celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary (which we have learned is our porcelain anniversary). We are in Gothenberg and have hired the space of Skansen Kronan, one of the two outlying forts surviving from the old city fortifications. We have invited friends, old and new, from our two lives and our joint life. Not sure how many – 60 perhaps. The party begins in sunlight outside the fort and continues in the safe embrace of the deep stone walls. Food (catering), speeches (our Swedish friends and family), music (ditto), dancing (the whole party).

The evening ends for us, the key participants, in a taxi on our way home to bed. Let’s do it again, we say. We must do it again.

April 18th: Skansen kronan (not really - obviously an autumnal photo)
Skansen kronan (obviously not taken 18th April)
18th April, 2016
We remember our 30th (pearl) wedding anniversary a day in advance, but celebrations are limited to me watching her get into a taxi at six in the morning on her way to the airport. She is flying to Lisbon for her job. I sit at home, translating and writing teaching material and, later, a newspaper article tips me into bitter memories of failure. In the evening, we talk on the phone, half a continent apart. We promise we’ll celebrate together – a delayed celebration – when she gets home again.
18th April, 2026
Ah, who knows? Our ruby wedding. Where will we be and will we remember in time? At least we’ll both be retired by then. Time, but no money. Again… Well, a little money perhaps.


*No, I don’t remember days that were 18th April in all these years, or the dates of Easter in 1966 and 2006. But the Internet has its uses, and one is a plethora of calendars where you can check these things.

*Goding, which works perfectly well as a family name in English, sounds weird to Swedish ears since it’s a slang description for an attractive person – think “sweetie”. Mrs SC assumed the gentleman had taken the name, but I suppose he might have had an English Goding ancestor.

This article was written for the #Blogg52 challenge.