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Best Man's Speech

I am very flattered to stand here today as Marcus' best man, although I realise that the honour should really got to his brother Ben. Ben could not be here today which I know he regrets - not only missing this wedding but also sailing week in Antigua. I'm sure he takes great comfort in the fact he is instead in the Middle East drilling dusty computer-designed holes in the sand. I believe that Marcus choose me as Ben's stand-in because, firstly, our friendship goes back 20 years to John and Judy's time in Switzerland, but also I hope Marcus chose me for the combination of my Swiss organisational skills and English charm, rather than the reverse.

I first met Marcus when we were 11 or 12 years old, in the first week of high school in Switzerland. At that time, all the gifted students were placed into an advanced French class with a teacher called Mrs. Bererra, which is how Marcus and I ended up sitting next to each other in class with Mrs. Forward. In those days John and Judy lived in another idyllic setting on the edge of the forest, which was fantastic for 12 years olds. Although we did the usual things like messing around on bikes and exploring and using Marcus' BB gun to murder whole families of geckos and butterflies, what I remember the most about those time is that Marcus always had his hands in some incredibly complex project, whether it be a remote controlled car or a glider or his own windsurfer. Like every self-respecting 12 years old I would love to have had my very own plane, but once I saw the dazzling array of intricate cuts of balsa wood and shrink-wrap film and electronics and little lead ballast balls, I realised this was quite simply beyond me. As an example, I remember building a snow fort with Marcus one winter, but because this was a Marcus project it ended up being a two-roomed igloo any Eskimo would be proud off, with an fancy entranceway, a passage between the two rooms, a chimney and a couple of lazy-boys and a wide screen TV.

Marcus left to boarding school in England, and although we kept in touch, it was some coincidence that we ended up studying together at University in Bristol. Not only that, but we ended up both studying engineering and sharing a house together along with 6 other guys. These were a couple of years, both exceptionally sociable and character building. That we both studied engineering turned out to be very useful, for me anyway, as it meant I could sleep in until 12 and then copy Marcus' lecture notes when he came home. I also remember when we moved into the house in Bristol I went to the local scrap merchant and bought wobbly desk for a tenner, but Marcus being Marcus, he went to the DIY store a set about designing and building a desk/shelving unit combo with just rudimentary tools for his room which fitted perfectly into the contours of his room. At University, Marcus developed a nick-name which I think most of you will be unaware of, which stemmed from his beer drinking ability. That nickname was Two-can Tomblin.

Not many people know this but immediately after Bristol, Marcus became a bona-fide rocket scientist. Although that sounds like a lead in to a pun, it isn't. Marcus spend about six months working for British Aerospace in the UK designing 9G-resistant refrigerator door latches and zero gravity washing machines and so on. Marcus soon decided that this sort of project wasn't hands-on enough for him, and he made the decision to pack it in start another series of projects to become a pilot. I think most of you here know the rest of the story: a pilot's licence in the US, four or five years here in the Caribbean pretending to fly rock stars to their island retreats whilst really just honing his wind surfing skills, and then the move to Hong Kong to fly the Airbus. His next project is to become an Airbus captain. I find it rather thought provoking that the kid who grew up who spent his summers firing a gun at small reptiles now has the lives of 400 passengers in his hands each time he goes to work.

Of course Hong Kong is where he met Mariles. Now Marcus and Mariles have chosen to take on another big project: building a marriage together, and possibly a family in the future. Now, I can't really offer any advice on these subjects, but what I can say to Marcus is that despite a lot of experience in complex projects, this one is possibly the most difficult and yet the most rewarding you will undertake. I can only encourage you go approach it in the same way you approached your model airplane projects or the igloo or your approach to life in general. Firstly, make sure you are very hands on - I can't stress that highly enough. Then apply the same attention to detail, the same dedication, the same determination, and the same gusto that you put into everything else.

To Marcus and Mariles!


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