Today we welcome Kristen Ashley to The Displaced Nation as a guest blogger. She wrote this post in response to Kate Allison’s “Jerry Seinfeld — the Royal Wedding’s Answer to Ricky Gervais.” Kristen is Kate’s opposite number: an American (originally from Indiana) who has been living in England: in a small seaside town in the West Country.
When I was asked to write an American’s perspective on Britain’s perspective on The Royal Wedding, at first I demurred. I did this because usually I have a lot to say on any subject but this one I didn’t.
This isn’t because I hold disdain for the upcoming nuptials. Indeed, back in the day when I was just thirteen, I, like many other Americans, woke up at an ungodly hour to watch Diana marry Charles. I did this with excitement akin to waking up Christmas morning. Well before their wedding day I was devoted follower of Diana and I still think she was a very stylish, kind and compassionate woman. And, living in England for eight years, I’ve come to respect Charles. And, lastly, it appears they raised two fine sons. In fact, the Royals as a whole seem okay in my book. I know they have their foibles but don’t we all?
Wedding — what wedding?
No, the reason I demurred from writing this piece was because no one here cares much about The Royal Wedding. In fact, William and Kate were engaged for days before I knew they’d made the announcement, and I only found out about it from seeing the Facebook statuses of my American brethren. Just yesterday, less than two weeks before the big event, I learned that Kate was given Diana’s ring, she wore blue during the announcement and did her own makeup. All this came from my sister who lives in Phoenix.
Therefore, considering the lack of interest was the piece, once I’d agreed to write it, I started to pay attention. By no means did I do any statistical research but I did make the effort to scan the magazines at the checkout counters, none of which, for weeks, had picture one of the happy couple and they still don’t.
A good day for a street party…or to mow the lawn
We get a bank holiday here for the wedding and that’s the only subject I’ve noted of any non-instigated chatter about The Wedding. Even so, no one I know is going to be sitting at home watching it. They’ll likely be in their gardens or on a jaunt to the seafront or some such British activity.
So, I brought up the subject, and not to talk about the bank holiday. When I suggested to a group of friends that we have a Royal Wedding party at my house, I received blank faces. The kind where someone is trying desperately to find a good lie where they can say they’re doing something important like grooming their cat and couldn’t possibly attend your party. The conversation died at that point and even when I told them I’d have plentiful Pimm’s and lemonade on hand there were no takers.
They did talk about the amusing anecdote of an article in the local newspaper describing how one small town was surprised that no one had applied to have a street party on the Big Day. Another indication that folks were taking the bank holiday not to celebrate the nuptials but to trim their rose bushes.
Time to load up on choccie biccies
I have noted, of late, that Clinton’s Cards has Union Jack decorations for sale should there be any takers but this display has only sprung up recently. And McVities has a commemorative tin of biscuits available — but it’s already on special offer and the event hasn’t even passed.
Other than that, it’s business as usual on this sceptred isle with everyone far more interested in what’s happening with Cheryl Cole and Katie Price than their future king claiming his bride.
As for me, I’m undecided. I’m curious about Ms. Middleton’s dress. That’s as far as I can build my interest. Perhaps it’s the lack of enthusiasm that surrounds me or perhaps the ugly, public and, in the end, literal death of the fairytale for William’s mother has soured me on the whole shebang.
I know this, if it’s sunny like it has been here for days, it’s unlikely I’ll be inside in front of a TV. This is England after all and you’re likely to be put to death if you sit inside when it’s sunny. I’m certain there will be plenty of photos on hand where I can examine the future queen’s wedding gown in detail.
But I’ll undoubtedly find them on American Web sites.
Question: How will you spend April 29th? And should the extra British holiday for the Royal Wedding be donated to a more enthusiastic audience?
Kristen Ashley is a novelist and the author of the Rock Chick Book Series. She offers downloadable chapters of her books, great recipes, and much more at www.kristenashley.net.
img: author photograph – Kristen Ashley
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Kristen, thank you for taking time out from your busy writing schedule to write about something that doesn’t excite you very much, and in a way that makes us feel as though we are actually right there with you, in a West country seaside town.
Just one thing troubles me: can it really be true that no one in that part of the world will be taking heed of this Friday’s royal festivities — that only Americans will be watching? Last night I was looking at two TLC specials, Charles & Di: Once Upon a Time and Untold Stories of a Royal Bridesmaid, and all the pundits seemed to be predicting the same level of crowds as last time. (Incidentally, TLC has constructed its very own Royal Wedding site.)
So is this going to be like December 31, 1999 — with hotels and restaurants lining up to offer “millennium specials,” only to find that most people go to bed early? Have all the pundits and the commercial interests got it wrong?
Having lived a few years in the very town where Kristen is now, I can say that if the demographics are still the same, a significant proportion of the town will be watching. There were a lot of retirement homes in the place when I was there. I suspect that enthusiasm for Friday’s event might increase with a person’s age. In my own case, an increasing lack of interest is probably down to a perverse refusal to accept the aging process.
Thanks so much for a great post, Kristen! Enjoy the Pimm’s – it looks like you’ll have plenty to spare.
My dear Kristen…I will be up at oh five hundred on Friday to watch! I even offered to have a Royal Wedding Party at my house at that Ungodly hour…Tea and Crumpets and of course tiaras….4 nurses I work with accepted, one even said she could find the crumpets at Trader Joe’s and would be happy to bring them…This is serious stuff! Can’t wait to see the dress! If the sun is shining your American ass better be in front of the telly! Just saying………..love you, cuzin Laura
Laura – I admire the way you’re so wholeheartedly into the spirit of the occasion, and think that you’re a deserving case for a free day off on Friday. No doubt one of Kristen’s friends will be happy to donate, once they’ve finished currycombing the cat.
I, too, will be up at an ungodly hour that day, although for slightly different reasons (give me eight hours sleep over watching history in the making, any day) and will need numerous cups of Tetley’s British Blend to keep me awake. But crumpets and tiaras at that time of the morning? Pass me the smelling salts! For that, you deserve all next week as vacation, too.
Dear ML, well, after writing this piece, I continued to assess the level of excitement around me. I do have two friends who will be celebrating… one who intends to get sloshed at her local fete, though made no mention of actually watching the wedding, and another who is going to watch “the arrival and the walk down the aisle, none of that other rubbish”.
However, the checkout lady at Morrison’s and I had a little chat (as she and I do, usually about the weather and our gardens) because I was buying the tin of McVities biscuits (for my sister, who requested them). The checkout lady is likely late 50s/early 60s and she said she will definitely be watching it. She can’t wait. “Such a lovely reason to celebrate. It gives a sense of hope,” she said, smiling a very sweet smile. That made me reassess my apathy considering these two do seem to be in love and therefore it may, indeed, be a lovely reason to celebrate and a lovely thing to watch.
Still, for me, it depends on the weather. 🙂
I might be more enthusiastic if I were on British Summer Time (or even further east, come to that) instead of East Coast America time. It’s difficult to get a sense of hope about anything when it’s not even light outside.
But perhaps your friend in Morrison’s is right, and we do need something to celebrate in these dark economic times. Of course, some cynics amongst us think the date was arranged for precisely that reason: