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!