If we were still in the UK, I’m sure we’d be much more aware of the all the details surrounding The Royal Wedding. We’ve been following the Royals lives since the boys were wee lads, and this wedding is absolutely World Cup status, which is to say that it’s not as big a deal here in the US as it is over there.
If we were still there, we’d probably be hosting or attending some sort of viewing party during the Royal Wedding Bank Holiday while engaging in Britain’s national pastime. Drinking. Ok, there may be a few other pastimes like talking about the weather and whinging, but I’m going to go out on a limb and rank drinking at the top of the list.
We haven’t planned anything special for the day, however, and I’m disappointed in our lack of enthusiasm.
I’ve been thinking about all of the major events we’ve experienced while on foreign soil. We landed in London on July 17, 1999 to learn that John Kennedy Jr. was missing. It was an unseasonably warm day in London (because every warm day in London is unseasonable), and the heat combined with jetlag left me a tired, sweaty mess. I couldn’t wait to get into our flat and pass out. We had to endure the ride in the oppressively small lift with the doorman escorting us up to our flat and our 4 enormous bags. The three of us were practically spooning each other.
“Hear the news about that Kennedy fellow?” asked the doorman.
“Yes, we just heard. Very upsetting.”
“D’nno what all the fuss is about, really. Not as if he was royalty or anyfink.”
I didn’t know what to say. It was difficult enough forcing my mouth to move as it had gotten a jumpstart on my post-flight nap. I didn’t know whether to be insulted or culturally sensitive. But before I could identify the proper response, we had arrived on our floor, and the doorman was already wheeling the most monstrous of the suitcases to our flat. That may have been the first of many times that I reiterated the phrase to Gabriella, “Well, Dorothy. We’re not in Kansas anymore.”
On another occasion in London, I was out for lunch with a client showing off my new WAP phone, which was the newest gadget in circulation. “Look,” I said scrolling through my options with the roller ball. “I can check out the latest headlines. Let’s see. Plane Crashes into World Trade Center. Well, that’s bad driving, isn’t it?” In my mind, someone in a little glider plane ran into the corner of the building, ricocheted right off and flew on to safety. I did not read on because it seemed a silly story on a slow-news day. I had no clue. Who could? It wasn’t until I got back to the office where my co-workers briefed me and where I slowly floated into a state of shock.
Then of course there were the years of Oscars and Olympics.
Before the Oscars, we tried to get out and see as many films as we could, but most of the nominated films reached the UK months after the Oscars. They would be screening in Spain or Sweden before they ever showed up in the UK. There were few Brits who cared to join us for an Oscar Party or even discuss the contenders.
Watching the Olympics was just plain painful. The British programmers ONLY televised the British athletes in each event. I might be more forgiving if they ever placed in the top three in anything. I don’t mean to be unkind, but watching the Olympics becomes quite dull when the coverage is exactly the same. “And here comes our courageous Nathaniel Blowtid-Buttum bringing up the rear. He’s got to be happy with that stonking performance after his abysmal performance in the last Olympics. Wouldn’t you agree, Bradley?” “Right you are, Chris. 17th place is certainly nothing to sneeze at. I’m sure all his family are well pleased with him today.” (Because they say “family are” in England. I know. Shocking.)
Seven years in England may not seem a very long time, but our life there was not insignificant. In that time, we got married, got knocked up, gave birth and experienced motherhood for the first 2 ½ years of Asher’s life. We made wonderful friends at work and in our neighbourhood. And I still haven’t completely discarded all the Brit-speak and pronunciations like describing my natural birth experience as a va-JAHY-nul birth. Well, I admit I say that one in particular because it makes me giggle to say it out loud. Give it a go.
I’d like to get over this distance I feel witnessing life from what I perceive is the wrong part of the world. I’ll have to spend the day preparing some last-minute celebratory (pron. seh-leh-BRAY-tree) activities to close the gap a bit. We’ll toast the betrothed over a few glasses of Bucks Fizz and make drunk-calls to our dear friends in Blighty. I’m also thinking of driving on the left side of the road all day. (You might want to stay home.) Perhaps, I’ll even run out and get some sweets. Unlike the happy couple and their guests, however, we will not be eating what is the traditional wedding cake in Britain–fruitcake. Ick.