Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Royal Wedding: Party like it's 1977

I realize that it's tragic inevitability that leads me to write about the Royal Wedding. I honestly didn't think I cared about it one iota until my husband, in his inherent thoughtfulness, presented me with an Emma Bridgwater wedding cup that is so sweet -- the Matthew Rice box is of course as beautiful and as rich in detail as the cup itself -- that, sitting in my bed in my spectacles, I wept, just a little.

We're going to be in Orcas Island this weekend staying with one of my best friend girlfriends and her husband. It is luck that brings us to the Pacific Northwest on this particular weekend and luck, no doubt, that will stir us early from our beds so that we can eat bowls of kedgeree and cheer and wave our flags.  I've been wry about the whole thing, tongue-in-cheek, even cynical. I said to Lucy "We must wear hats and wave and shed tears" and she said "Yes, we must. Our men can go out fishing and we will stay home and watch the wedding, just as we watched Diana's wedding. How wonderful. What shall we eat?" "Kedgeree" I said, "Of course it must be kedgeree." And so it went, the banter, the giggling, the preparations.

And in Los Angeles, in supermarkets and gas stations, at dinner parties and even at the dentist's office I'm asked, "Are you going to the Royal Wedding? (Two months ago, I was asked "Did you get your invitation yet?").  People are awfully disappointed when I say I'm not going.  "Did you pick out your hat yet" said my friend Maureen who lives in Pasadena, "I have great hopes for that hat."

Kedgeree, image courtesy Jamie Oliver

I have four extremely tenuous ties to the Royal family:

1) My father had a gun dog, Barley, who was related to the Queen's dog.  He was a lovely dog, looked more like a whippet than a labrador, and was absolutely bonkers. He ate apples off the trees and grapes from the table.
2) A girl at boarding school's mother was lady-in-waiting to the Queen. Her father was the editor of the Times, which I thought even more glamorous.
3) My brother lives close to Balmoral and has been known to share his game larder with the estate (see, we're practically family!)
4) I ride horses (and I always wanted a pony called Stroller).

So you'd think that these four things alone, um, would merit an invitation, wouldn't you?  How is it possible that I was left off the list?  "Kate invited the butcher from her village, you know" said Lucy helpfully.

John's grandmother, Inez, who was the Greatest Woman Ever, was a confirmed Royalist, would subscribe to Majesty magazine and knew all the gossip (she also hated George Bush which brought us much joy).  Every Christmas and Easter she'd nestle up next to me in her St. John knits and say "Now tell me what's going on with that Royal Family of yours."  Of course, I had not a clue, but I'd make it up with snippets seen on the cover of People magazine in the supermarket check-out line.

And now when people ask, I can't help but feel enthused. It's my duty.  I want to hang Union Jack bunting all over the house, and make a Victoria sponge, and toast the Happy Couple with a glass of champagne.  I want to be in England when the village parties are going on, when the vicar has more than one glass of sherry, when everyone ties red and white and blue ribbons around their dogs' collars, and puts platefuls of sandwiches on trestle tables with flowery tablecloths down the middle of the streets, and hugs the people they don't usually hug, and the children dance the maypole, the way it was at the Silver Jubilee in 1977.  Yes, I'm afraid this wedding is making me nostalgic, in a Vera Lynn kind of way.

Yesterday Lucy said to me in a very concerned voice "You know, I don't actually have a hat, Bum." Just like that.  "Oh please don't worry" I laughed. "Neither do I.  I was joking.  I was going to borrow the one that the dog likes."  "But it starts at 3am on the west coast" she said, very, very seriously. "Do you think we should TiVo it or do you think we'll get up that early?"  "I'm not sure" I said. "And what kind of fish should I get?" she added, "Do you think we'll find proper smoked haddock? I'm a little worried we might not."

And so we may laugh now. And we may pretend we don't really care. But on Friday, at about 4 in the morning, Pacific Coast Time, Lucy & I, in our fascinators, will be glued to the telly, cups of tea in hand, dabbing our eyes with hankies, and singing along to the wedding hymns ringing out through Westminster Abbey.

Hip Hip Hurrah!


Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Oh dear this is all so very sad for you probably will, in all likelihood, be sitting eating your kedgeree [a very good thing to be doing for it makes a positively delicious breakfast] before the television and singing to the hymns [not so bad - we love hymns] and shedding a tear or two... But for what? This, we find, is never quite made clear.

But then now we have played your 'We'll Meet Again' video clip and have been quite overcome with homesickness so we totally understand.

Your mug is, we suspect, lovely. Ours, a gift too, supports anarchy and is not so lovely.

Janie. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I shall have my scarf wrapped around my head, just like the queen and Bum, you will be flashing that feather of your's - just don't take flight, as I'm not sure I'd know what to do.... Pull you back or let you go ...... off to the second star to the right and straight on till morning.
I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!!
And I'm still pissed off it's that Kate Middelton and not my very pretty and equally pleasant daughter!!! Oh well, I suppose you win some - you lose some!

janie said...

P.S. Btw you really lucked out with your husband, very considerate, thoughtful, tasteful and sweet. Ive not seen the special box, what a nice box! No wonder you shed a few tears, very touching. The two of you are beautiful together Bumble and yes, i borrowed your name at Starbucks as i think it too very special. Have a lovely weekend. Wish i were going somewhere!

sue said...

I am looking forward to the royal wedding. The coverage starts at 6.00pm Australian time, not sure that I will dress up nor what I will eat, but I will raise a glass to the happy couple.

It's a wonderful first hand moment in history, can't wait...

Ann in SF said...


I found your blog while perusing Little Augury last week and have since been dipping in, reading backwards (chronologically speaking). Love your writing and stories and choices re content. Perfect balance IMHO. And my cart at Amazon is steadily expanding...

I used to hitch-hike over Laurel Canyon from Woodland Hills to Sunset in 1970-71. At 17 I had just traveled with friends from Middleburg where I grew up, via a couple of months in south Florida, to WH to stay with family friends of one of my traveling partners.
hung out in the Canyon after making friends with some of the folks that gave us rides. It was like that in the early 70s before hard drugs ruined everything.

I wasn't long for LA, but the months I spent there were fun and quite interesting, to say the least. Migrated up to Big Sur and rooted there for most of my adult life.

In any event, I just love your blog, and sense in you, a kindred.

kairu said...

I'm reading this and giggling into my dinner. I've got a souvenir mug, too, but I'll be fast asleep when the wedding begins and will have to catch up on the internet, much later...

Have a lovely trip this weekend! You'll be up in my neck of the woods, though it's been ages since I was on Orcas! I've been hearing lovely things about the restaurant Allium, which is owned by a Twitter friend, Lisa Nakamura, who worked at the French Laundry and then The Herbfarm before striking it out on her own. She's recently opened an ice cream shop, called Lily, which sells homemade ice cream and other treasures.

Maggie said...

What a lovely post, as always. Your Royal Wedding watching plans sound delightful, and I agree that your husband's thoughtfulness is worthy of praise. Oh, and the spotteds in their hats! *gasp*

I personally have little to no interest in The Royal Wedding, as I have no ties to England or to the Royal family, but I can understand the (very well articulated) nostaliga and pride of country/heritage that it conjures in you.

My S. African mother in law, a confirmed Royalist, is giddy with excitement, having traveled to London espcially! (No, she is not on the guest list, but she has a lovely view of Westminster Abbey.)

Perhaps I will have to rise early tomorrow, whip up some scones and tea, and toast you both.



Miss Whistle said...

Dear Ann in SF,
I'm sorry it's taken me a while to respond (the wedding madness has taken a toll on us all) but I loved your comment and I think we may be kindred spirits. Everyone talks about the canyon in the 70s, what it was like, the magic that took place here. My old neighbor, now moved to Big Sur, lived next to Jim Morrison then and hung out with him. Like you, she said the drugs became too much and the fun dissipated. On the other hand, people have such beautiful acid dreams about how things could be. I don't know. It's lovely here with the trees and the birds and the ghosts.
Please keep in touch.
I'm very happy your commented.
-- Miss Whistle

Somerset Wedding Gal said...

It's all so true, however sceptical you are of the Royals, it's hard not to get swept up in all the romance and excitement!