Gareth’s alarm went off at 8:30 am at a shattering volume but Gareth didn’t hear it. He’d already been up 42 minutes and while the spring-loaded clapper buzzed frantically between the bells at the top of his Mickey Mouse clock, he was singing to himself in the shower in an atonal fortissimo.

“I’m getting married in this morning! Ding dong, the bells are gonna shee-iii-ine!!”

He hummed the rest, partly because he was rinsing the shaving foam off his face and partly because he had no idea how the remainder of the song went. Gareth had allowed 45 minutes for a shower and intended using every second. Loofers, back scrubbers, sponges, flannels and nail brushes joined forces with an array of shower gels, shampoos, conditioners, exfoliants, soaps and skin treatments.

Gareth washed his body as if he’d been hugged by an estate-agent: every nook, cranny, tufted-indent, valley, flap and crevice was scrubbed pink and rinsed clean. Spitting the water from his lips, he bopped with excitement, grabbed the shower head and brandished it like a microphone.

“It’s a nice day for a… WHITE-WEDDING!! It’s a..nice day to…SCHTAAART AGAAIN-EH!!”

By the time he’d towelled himself dry, de-odorised his pits and slipped into his box-fresh designer underpants, he was already 26 minutes ahead of schedule and feeling good.

A hearty breakfast was vital: a wedding day was long and tiring. He’d be on his feet most of the day, he had to remember his vows, nail his speech and that was before you took into account the nerves. He’d read somewhere that a groom-to-be burned more calories than a hungry cheetah chasing down a gazelle. The last thing he wanted to do was keel over at the altar, vomit on his beloved or not have the energy for the first dance.

A full English was the order of the day and Gareth devoured it. “My last breakfast as a single man”, he thought, as he wiped the remains of the egg off the plate with a slice of fudgey white bread, swilled it down with tea and then sprinted upstairs to the bathroom. He took a piss. “My last piss as a single man!” he laughed. Everything was significant, today was the Alpha and Omega of days.

He cleaned his teeth five times, flossed till his gums bled and gargled noisily with non-alcoholic mouthwash. The first kiss after they’d said: “I do” would be minty fresh as well as passionate. Gareth then dressed methodically. Freshly pressed shirt, cufflinks , then his cheeky ‘Sex God’ socks, with garters. His trousers followed, then his tie, waistcoat, shoes and finally his morning jacket. He stood admiring himself in the full-length mirror. He looked fantastic.  He looked handsome.

“I’d marry me”, he said with a smile.

After taking three deep breaths, he checked his watch. 10:03. He’d be early, but that was OK. Gareth wanted to take in the church, the flowers and enjoy and squeeze every last second out of the day. THE day, the happiest day of his life, the day that he thought would never come. The day he was going to get married.

Gareth composed himself, then trotted down the stairs and let himself out into the bright, perfect Spring sunshine to get into the waiting car. Then he stopped dead as he remembered: he was single. He’d been single for 9 years. There was no wife.

Why did he do this to himself every day?