All the Cotswolds, even this folly, was decked out yesterday for the royal wedding. Well, that’s not totally true. Despite my earlier assertion that the ladies of the Cotswolds would be wearing their finest hats for the viewing at the wine bar, I was the only one (unless you count L.’s floppy straw number and a couple of men in baseball caps). In fact attendance was rather sparse when husband and I first arrived at 9:30AM. In a classic Toff display of the middle-finger-to-the-world attitude, A., one of the scariest dames of the neighboring villages, hadn’t even bothered to put in her dentures. I guess she didn’t really need them for the coffee with a snifter side car of something or other she was drinking. She did, however, seem amused by my small-pink-bird-just-exploded-on-my-head hat, quipping with a front-toothless smile that there was still time to make it to the Abbey. Vera, the eight-year old pug who had the bar stool next to me, also seemed to like my hat. Or at least my croissant.
By the time I was on to my first Bellini of the morning the place had started to fill up. This provided me with an audience for my running red carpet commentary on the guests, something the BBC broadcast was too dignified to provide. It went something like this:
- Pippa the sister should have never been allowed to wear white. If it wasn’t for her spray tan she may have stolen the show.
- Eugenie and Beatrice did steal the show, but not in a good way. In an ugly stepsisters in a Cinderella panto kind of way.
- The Queen looked radiant in yellow. Not a hint of Big Bird despite my initial fears when I first glimpsed her in her car on the way to the Abbey.
- Advice to Harry: stand up straight.
- Advice to Wills: shave it off.
- Advice to SamCam (PM’s wife): next time wear a hat.
- I shouldn’t have liked Miriam González Durántez’s (Deputy PM’s wife) Cruella de Vil get up but I did. It takes guts to wear a floral turban to the Abbey. Very Sunset Boulevard.
- Best hat goes to Zara Phillips for her silvery-black tilted UFO.
Congratulations, William and Catherine!
I admit it. That was me who cleaned out WH Smith’s stock of Royal Wedding Commemorative Stickers in Heathrow Terminal 5 last Friday. I mean what’s not to love about Royal Wedding Commemorative Stickers? They’re almost as good as the pope bottle opener and Virgin Mary travel shampoo bottles I bought in Vatican City. (Or were those holy water bottles? I forget.)
Commemorative stickers aside, I was surprised at how thin on the ground Royal Wedding merchandise was at Heathrow. Other than the stickers all I saw was a very funny My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding spoof book in which Kate and Williams’ heads were super-imposed on a Big Fat Gypsy Wedding party (if you haven’t seen the documentary that inspired this, get a taste here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2XuqGS1fm8) and a tin of Walker’s shortbread with that overused engagement photo on it (you know, the one that Kate’s eyebrow groomer should be fired over). The London Olympics people already managed to get a whole frickin’ shop open in Terminal 5, and their event isn’t even until next year. And their logo looks like it was designed by a cat.
Luckily, Tim the cashier at WH Smith informed me that all the really good merch doesn’t surface until after the actual event. Everyone is waiting for the money shot of the wedding dress (hopefully accessorised with subtly arched brows). Thanks for the tip, Tim. I’m not even mad you forgot to give me half off my buy-one-get-one-half-off books.
Arrived back in the Cotswolds on Wednesday night for a few days of rural refreshment before a trip out to California then back again in time for the royal wedding. Enough royal wedding memorabilia to fill a small warehouse had been delivered in the post (tea towels for everyone!), including the Emma Bridgewater mug pictured from which I am currently drinking my morning coffee. I appreciate the way Ms. Bridgewater managed to make the helicopters (emblem of Will’s profession as a search and rescue helicopter pilot) look sort of like flowers if you squint, but it’s too bad the initials of the royal couple are the same as those used to indicate bathroom facilities in the UK.
Also awaiting me was the May issue of Cotswold Life magazine, a periodical in which I had pretty much lost interest when I was living here full-time. I preferred the New Yorker to say the monthly Cotswold Pub Dog column in which, yes, a local pub dog gets his own column in which to inform the public of his favourite pub snack, favourite spot in the bar, and favourite customer. But now that I am back living full-time in the big, bad urban-ness of Berlin, I sopped up Cotswold Life like it was some kind of life-prolonging tonic.
In typical idiosyncratic style, the opening article managed to both bemoan the cancellation for the second year in a row of Cheese Rolling down Cooper’s Hill, a nearly two-century old Cotswold tradition, and extol the virtues of smoking. The second article was a newish (well, new since I stopped reading regularly) column by a woman who calls herself Cotswold Mother. Very annoying since that is obviously the perfect spot for the American in the Cotswolds column. And then there was my favorite, the property pages, which reminded me how very rich this area is and how very rich I am not. The description in one ad for a manor and estate in nearby Withington included a minstrels’ gallery, bothy, and manège, none of which are architectural features with which I am familiar (although the first one sounds disturbingly, to an American, like a venue for a minstrel show). Like the old saying goes, if you have to ask you can’t afford it!
I was nine years old when Prince Charles married Diana, and I still remember getting up early in the morning to watch the grainy broadcast in the family room of my suburban Southwest Florida home. I was glued to the television. I wanted to be Diana—not because she got to marry Charles but because she got to wear those acres of cream puff silk—or at the very least one of her bridesmaids, who I thought were the luckiest girls in the world. And now that their son, William, is getting married I am just as engrossed.
For one thing I now have a personal, if very tenuous, connection to the royal couple. It was at a wedding in the very church of our very Cotswold village where the couple appeared together in public for the first time in months last October. In the universe of royal watchers, this was a highly significant event and fueled speculation (correctly as it turns out) that the announcement of their engagement was imminent.
My own preparations for the royal wedding are well under way. To start with, I will be leaving a business meeting in San Francisco a few hours early in order to make the 6:55PM flight that will get me back to the UK on time. (If anybody asks, I’m prepared to defend my decision with an explanation that, as a UK passport holder, I am virtually obligated to be present in the green and pleasant land to witness the big event.) I will be taking the day off so that we can watch the wedding from the wine bar, which will be hosting a prosecco and bunting studded big-screen viewing. The ladies of the surrounding villages have already agreed to arrive in hats, and my own, a hot pink number that last had an outing at Royal Ascot some years ago, will soon be retrieved from its pentagonal box in the far reaches of the wardrobe. I plan to pair it with my Target-Lily-Pulitzer-knock-off sundress and a pair of vintage pink crystal strawberry-shaped clip on earrings. I’m sure I’ll still be basking in the afterglow when I drink my coffee out of my Kate and William commemorative mug the next morning.