ON January 25, 2003, I made a speech which some described as "an oratory masterpiece".
Others, less kind than my mum, described it as "a piece of mindless dribble that went on forever".
My wife was one of the most outspoken critics which was sad, as it was my speech at our wedding.
Granted, it did go on a bit.
To the point where, after about 45 minutes, I realised I was boring myself and sort of ran out of steam halfway through a sentence.
"Thank god for that - I thought you'd never stop," my wife muttered as I made some vague sort of toast to the bridesmaid, the caterers and the bloke behind the bar.
So it was surprising that my eldest son, who was my best man on that auspicious occasion, asked me to speak at his recent weddings.
Because he was marrying a Brazilian girl, they had one happy event in Sydney and another in her home town a month later.
My wife and I decided to attend both and I agreed to deliver a speech in both countries.
The first was a masterpiece.
"Bravo," my mother said, proving once again she has a completely blinkered view of my brilliance.
"Bloody hell, you droned on a bit," my wife said, proving once again that she believes I'm an idiot.
"One down and one to go," I said to my son later that night.
He muttered something about international peace treaties and scuttled away to be with his bride.
A pretty young Brazilian girl sidled up to me with a drink in her hand.
"Will you be learning any Portuguese before your speech in Brazil?" she asked.
"Why would I learn Portuguese when they're getting married in Brazil?" I hit back.
"And no, I won't be learning any Brazilian either. I'm told there'll be an interpreter over there.
"Now if you don't mind, I'm a happily married man and don't appreciate you trying to chat me up.
And with that, I stalked off.
Imagine my surprise, a month later, when I stood to speak at my son's Brazilian wedding and turned to see the interpreter was the same young lady.
She smiled sweetly as I walked to the podium but I could sense malice in that smile.
Hell hath no fury etc etc.
I knew I was in trouble when my opening line - "good evening, I'm Matthew's father" - drew giggles.
And it only got worse.
I'd say something; she'd translate and the crowd would laugh.
For some reason "thank you for making us welcome" drew peals of laughter.
Likewise with "we hope you will all come and visit us one day".
And when I wished the newlyweds a long and happy life, the crowd dissolved into fits of laughter.
By then I had realised everything I was saying was being twisted into some sort of Brazilian soap opera and another important speech ground to a halt mid-sentence.
I never saw the interpreter again - she mysteriously vanished as soon as the speeches were finished.
But for some reason strange men kept pinching me on the bum for the rest of the night.
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