I would like to thank you, our friends and family for being with us here today on this next great stage in our journey through life together. I love Bradley so very much and I'm very thankful you were here to witness our Union. Or as Bradley's father put it "so we weren't living in sin any more". I'll try to keep this short, as I speak too often and perhaps too long as you all know.
Tonight there are many things I'm thankful for but I do have one regret and one hope for the future. So, firstly, I am very thankful that the surprise venue remained a secret. I hope the surprise was worth the wait? Keeping this a secret from all of you was quite difficult and stressful. We have come to realise that children love surprises but adults, not so much. So, again I wanted to thank all the staff of the Royal Scotsman, our photographers Huma and Matthew and all the staff at the Balmoral hotel from earlier today. Indeed there were many people who have helped make this such a special and memorable day. While myself and Brad were very excited about our civil partnership ceremony here on the Royal Scotsman and surprise for you. I can assure you that all the staff have been simply bursting with excitement!
As Brad said, I also wanted to thank our friends and family who have come from a great distance. We really appreciate your efforts in coming so far. Given the mystery and constraints we placed on you I wanted to complement everyone on how splendid you all look. I would like to thank my brothers Paul and Gavin for being here and my sister in law Mary. Thank you also to Mary's parents, my Aunt and Uncle Des and Phyl and cousins and friends for being here with us. Thank you, one and all.
Of course, my thanks go beyond simply today. I am very thankful for having Bradley in my life. As you might know Quigley men can be a little bossy and high maintenance. So finding someone to put up with me it quite the miracle. Finding someone like Bradley is, I think you will agree, a miracle squared. We are not very lovey dovey men, I think that's fair to say, but I think our love for each other runs very deeply beyond anything superficial. I will always remember what my brother Gavin said when he was married, that "his smile returned when he met Gillian his wife", who sadly cannot be here tonight. When I am away from home, sometimes I will think of Brad and a smile will brighten my face. Brad is that sort of man, just the thought of him will gladden your heart and bring a smile to your face.
Of course, I always say and firmly believe that one should never live life with any regrets. Sadly, I do have one regret. And that is, that my parents never got to meet Bradley. I have been very lucky to have Bradley's parents Steve and Gaile in my life who have treated me as their son, in every way. The kindness they have extended me is surely a sign of the great love and affection they have for Brad. Still, I do wish John and Noelle my parents could have met Brad and his family. I know my mother and Brad would have been as thick as thieves and ganging up on me, I'm sure! John and Steve would have found each other like minded men. And of course Gaile and Noelle, would have found each other as sisters who live continents apart. I like to picture my parents taking Brad under their wing as his parents have for me. Of course, I feel they are here with us and I think they would be proud I found someone like Brad to spend my life with. They might say, "he is the sort of man, all men should aspire to be". Kind and caring, considerate and courteous, sophisticated and stylish and of course, warm and loving.
Clearly, given the amount of time myself and Brad have known each other its safe to say that we haven't rushed into our decision today. Of course a combination of legal hurdles and our migratory lifestyle over the past 14 years means that here, in Scotland, is the first place we have been able to exchange vows in front of family and friends. Instead, wouldn't it have been nice, that like any other couple, we could have decided on the day we met perhaps to simply have eloped! Can't you just picture Brad eloping? No? Perhaps not?
Of course now, as I cast my mind back the 5032 days to when we first met in University I cannot be so sure that we would have eloped. We sat in the court yard of the students union in the University of Newcastle, quite the romantic spot and I proceeded to captivate Brad with my worldly advice and wisdom. Well, at least that's how I saw it. Brad on the other hand had to excuse himself three times to call Gaile with increasingly inventive excuses as to why he was coming home late, as she was to collect him at the train station. I was thinking, O he is dazzled. He was thinking, o, won't he shut up! Of course as Peter Pan said, all of this has happened before, and it will all happen again. Indeed, to this day I will still regale Brad with some of the same witty words and scandalous stories, thinking it's the first time I'm told him, only to be informed that no, I've heard this before, and yes, it was funnier the last time. O, dear.
So, to conclude. I think back to the gift I gave Bradley when he turned 21 the year after we met. In a book I gave him, I wrote the words of Mark Twain which seem appropriate to repeat now:
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did.
So, throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
The past 14 years have certainly been this, travelling to over 50 countries together and living in 5 countries on four continents. So to you Brad, I look forward to the rest of our lives together, for everything we have left to explore, for all the discoveries we are yet to make and for being there for each other to ensure our dreams don't go unfulfilled.
In the stormy seas of life you are my safe harbour.