Monday, 9 May 2011


As you would expect for the last few months all the news that’s fit to report has been about the Royal Wedding. It was difficult not to be fed up with it all even before the event and I kept going out of my way to avoid some of the programs and newspaper articles before the big day.

Most of the newspaper articles were about Kate Middleton’s family, current and ancestral with just about every skeleton in the family closet exposed. Even here they seem caught up with the Prince marrying the Commoner aspect. Actually, as many have said, it really is no longer relevant in today’s world. She, after all, will be the first princess to have a university degree and is quite her own, confident woman. Also, as is common in today’s society but would have been scandalous even a few years ago, they have already been living together for some time as a couple. Really, a lot of cynical observers here think that this will go a long way in bringing the royal family into the 21st century and beyond.

I didn’t really have much of a personal opinion about it all; I suppose you could say that she’s a very charming and poised girl and he seems quite nice and level-headed. People who know William say he is completely lacking in pretention and so is she. They genuinely seem to love each other. We did plan to watch it all on TV though, because it is a historic event that you can look back on but other than anticipating a nice day of TV viewing I didn’t really have any special plans or expectations.

A lot of places in England had planned street parties or family parties and all the grocery stores were offering sales on special party foods and nibbles along the lines of what would be done for the Super Bowl in the US. Unlike the Super Bowl, everyone was given the day off and with the May Day Bank Holiday on Monday it gave everyone an extra long weekend.

Robbie had already booked 2 weeks at the end of April and the first week of May long ago just because he had to use them up. He planned it so that he didn’t have to count holidays like the Easter weekend and now this weekend against his total so he’s really only taking 12 days off rather than 14.

Coverage of the event was scheduled to start here at 8:00 in the morning, yes, later than in the US but still early enough that we watched the first couple of hours of the coverage in our pajamas, in bed, sipping our coffee. Around 10:00 I said I wanted to go downstairs and watch it on the larger TV and get a better picture, so still in our pajamas we watched the wedding. Well why not? We not only got the best seats in town but were probably the most comfortable. At one point Robbie made us bacon and eggs for brunch so we even had a “wedding breakfast” along with the Royals!

I really liked the idea of the trees and lily of the valley as floral decorations in the Abbey and the trees especially gave the impression of it almost being outside in the open air. Most of the commentators that were there or had been inside the Abbey before the wedding the night before mentioned the first thing you noticed was the lovely smell from the lily of the valley. That is one of my favorite scents too and I think that’s just a terrific idea.

With my own nod to the information/technical/gadget age I spent part of the time checking and commenting on Facebook and Twitter. I was following the Twitter feeds from the Clarence House site and the Facebook British Monarchy page. They both had lots of background and more specific information as it was happening that just really made the thing more enjoyable. Because of that I could also pass along little tidbits from those two sources plus the two channels on the TV I was flipping back and forth between (BBC and ITV).

I thought Kate’s dress was just perfect. It was so lovely and elegant and just stunning in its cut and design. I loved the lace and the way the dress folded and hung in such beautiful lines. Someone said that the designer had made it so it hung like a flower bud. It was lovely. She was wearing a tiara (there was speculation beforehand on whether she would or not) and it was so pretty and rather small. Apparently Queen Elizabeth loaned it to her and it was one her father had given her on her 18th birthday so that seems rather touching. William and Harry, of course were in full regimental uniforms of their various services and they were quite elaborate but not to the point of being “Gilbert and Sullivan”-esque.

All in all, just fun to watch and by the time we looked up and started to go back about our business it was nearly 4:00. I should say something about the weather: it was touch and go whether it would rain in London and it didn’t after all but it did up here later in the afternoon. Wed. and Thurs. before the wedding we had lovely sunny days but Fri. was cloudy and a bit misty. The sun did peek out a bit but later, when Robbie went out, he called and told me it was raining slightly, or “a wee smirr” as they say here.

Before the wedding, quite a few of the newspapers and news reports talked about US media outlets—TV, newspapers, etc.—hiring British actors and presenters to cover the Royal Wedding and to translate some of the things that they would be seeing or expressions they might hear from the narration. Some of the things mentioned were: “knees up” (raucous party), “bacon butty” (a bacon sandwich) or “hen party” (we would call it bachelorette party).

After my last post of things we take for granted in the US that they don’t have or haven’t heard of here I thought I’d make a list of all the things like the above that are common here but were unknown to me when I got here. Now I thought I was quite the learned Anglophile after all the “Masterpiece Theatre” I’d watched and novels I’d read but this goes way beyond that.

So, if you have heard of some of these, eaten them, or know who/what they are you might be British or have lived in Britain for a while. These divide the Anglophile from the native I think:

1.      The Hairy Bikers
2.      “Nice to see you, to see you—(finish the phrase from “Cousin Brucie” and do you even know who Cousin Brucie is?)
3.      Blackpool rock
4.      Your gob or being “gobby”
5.      Eurovision Song Contest
6.      The High Street
7.      Malteasers
8.      Marmite
9.      The Cenotaph
10. Last Post
11.  Gala Day
12.  A Flake (you eat it but not for breakfast)
13.  The Court Circular
14.  Prawn crackers
15.  TV license
16.  Fitted kitchen
17.  Open University
18.  Going “on the pull”
19.  Cowboys (they don’t ride horses)
20. Blue Peter
21.  Fairy light
22. Fairy liquid
23. Fairy cake
24. Flavored crisps (such as prawn cocktail, beef and chicken dinner)
25. Electric fire
26. Butlin’s
27.  The Two Ronnies and their “Fork handles”
28. I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here
29. Benidorm & Ibezia
30. Dr. Who’s Christmas special
31.  The Tardis
32. Horlick’s
33. “Betty’s” Hotpot
34. Fanny Craddock
35. Delia’s cheats
36. Dinner ladies
37.  School dinners
38. Swede (not from Sweden)
39. Rocket (doesn’t fly)
40. “Moorish”
41.  Set top box
42. Worzel Gummidge
43. Little Chef
44. CCTV
45. Sticky toffee pud
46. Stone (not geological)
47.  “Keep calm and...” (finish saying)
48. Christmas crackers (you don’t eat them)
49. Party poppers
50. A swift half
51.  Lord Sugar
52. Bingo with no letters (two fat ladies isn’t just a cooking show)
53. Fifi and the Flowertots
54. Peppa Pig
55. Noddy and Big Ears
56. Hannah’s Help Line (“moo baa, double quack, double quack”)
57.  Panto
58. Plasticine
59. PG Tips
60. Have a brew (doesn’t mean a beer)
61.  Sweet corn & tuna on a pizza
62. Boots (you don’t wear them on your feet)
63. Bovril
64. Gravy granules
65. Irn Bru
66. Wine gums
67.  Shell suit
68. Boiler suit
69. Cliff Richard
70. “Go compare” 
71.  Alexsandr the meerkat & “simples”
72.  Jeremy Kyle
73.  Match of the Day
74.  The Shipping Forecast
75.  The Archers (or radio soap operas)
76.  M&S
77.  B&Q
78.  Don’t expect your salad to have dressing or drink to have ice
79.  Emmerdale (Farm)
80. Plus One Channel
81.  Plus fours
82. Bacon that isn't smoked
83. Ribena
84. GCSE’s
85. WI
86. “Jam & Jerusalem”
87.  Ann Widdecombe
88. Builder’s tea
89. Victoria sponge
90. Pork scratchings

Now this isn’t a test so if you want to know what any of these are or a fuller explanation just email me or comment at the bottom and I’ll try to fill you in. Or there’s always Google...