What’s on the end of the stick, Rio?

I HOPE Rio Ferdinand has invited Vic Reeves to his wedding – because the reported plans for the ceremony have come straight from an episode of Big Night Out.

The Premier League’s leading table tennis player is marrying his fiancee Rebecca Ellison in August. And according to newspaper reports, he is going to have the wedding rings flown in by a barn owl.

The Mail on Sunday tells us: “Carrying the rings in a velvet pouch, Ollie will be released by her handler the moment the registrar asks the 30-year-old centre back: ‘Do you have the rings?’

“She will fly down from the minstrels’ gallery in the Great Hall of Peckforton Castle in Cheshire, to the best man, who will be wearing a falconer’s glove for her to perch on during the vows.”

I have an image in my head of the owl swooping down, ruffling about in its feathers and then saying, with a furrowed brow: “I’m sure I had the rings in here somewhere.”

But there is a touch of Vic and Bob about the whole thing. If you spent the first couple of years of the 1990s shouting “You wouldn’t let it lie!” and “What’s on the end of the stick, Vic?” at friends, colleagues, family members and total strangers, you will know exactly what I mean.

If, on the other hand, you don’t know your Novelty Island from your Britain’s Got Talent, then I’m quite clearly wasting my time on you.

Do you not remember the Big Night Out episode where Novelty Island was judged by a seagull who had been sitting on the roof of the studio with the Mayor of Casterbridge, and who dropped on to Reeves’ desk to reveal the identity of the winner, written on a sheet of paper taped to its leg?

(If you don’t remember, it’s three minutes into this clip.)

Ferdinand does, it seems. Where else would he have got the whole swooping-owl/rings-tied-to-leg idea from? It’s clear as day to me.

I hope this means we are going to see more Reeves-inspired ideas at Rio’s wedding. The ceremony would be livened up no end if, for instance, we got to see Nibbles the comedy duck regurgitating shrimps on hearing any of the 10 commandments, or someone flattening a piece of brie over a kitchen tile, or Mr Popkins with his singing bag of lovey-dovey doughnuts.

Even better, perhaps Rio’s missus could arrive at Peckforton Castle’s Great Hall in a reconstruction of Reeves’ greatest-ever Big Night Out entrance, by crashing through the roof while singing Panic by The Smiths, accompanied by a bloke attempting to impersonate Lovejoy by sticking some antiques to his face.

There will be people, cynical people, who will suggest that all of this matrimonial largesse is wrong at a time when vast chunks of the population can barely afford to keep paying Sir Fred Goodwin’s pension.

But I think such surrealist extravagance is a sign of wonderful imgination – just when we all need a bit of cheering up.

In fact, if you’re thinking of getting married soon, why not try having an owl deliver the rings at your wedding? If you can’t afford an owl, you can always make your own by embedding a feather duster by its handle into a ball of wool, tying it to a bit of string and getting one of the guests to dangle it down from the balcony.


Have a great day, Rio. If you can’t find space for ‘Oh, Mr. Songwriter’ in the service, though, I will be disappointed.


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