Monthly Archives: April 2011

Observations on a little wedding you might have heard about

In no particular order, my snarky observations from Royal Wedding Day:

  • You would have thought that Samantha Cameron had shown up buck-naked (as opposed to just bare-headed) the way the press went on and on about this “controversy”
  • Apparently it is fair game for the press (the BBC, no less) to slag off the mother of the bride’s usual fashion sense and act all surprised that they weren’t offended by what she was wearing today.
  • As long as we’ve started with fashion, what on earth compelled princesses Beatrice and Eugenie to wear such bizarre costumes? And really, those “hats” are more “respectful” than SamCam’s bare head?
  • I didn’t love the dress. I thought it made the bride’s chest look strange. There, I said it. Shoot me now.
  • Pippa’s dress was awesome though. Although I never seem to get used to little girls in frilly dresses being called “bridesmaids”…
  • And oh by the way, with the complete obsession with Britishness that pervaded throughout the run-up to this day (the emphasis on a British bridal designer, British composers for the music, etc.) how on earth was French lace allowed for the Bride?
  • Why did her Dad just stand there after “giving her away” (an antiquated part of the ceremony that I hate…)
  • Seriously, when there is only one ring you just skip the other half of the typical words associated with the ring part? It felt really asymmetric and just wrong to me.
  • I’ve been to an Anglican and British wedding. I dislike all the hymn-singing. Especially in this large of a venue, when it is impossible for there not to be a several second delay separating the organ and the attempts at singing by the guests trying, in vain, to follow the choir. Watching the cameras zoom in on how uncomfortable everyone clearly was during the hymns was sort of fun, though.
  • All of the overhead cameras were a bit creepy with all the cleavage shots. That view was also pretty harsh for the groom, whose bald spot is shinier than I realized.
  • The strange British speech pattern that gives us “pasta” pronounced as “PASS-ta” instead of “PAWS-ta” also gives us a rather interesting pronunciation of “mall” that I had not heard before and did not see coming, given how “bath” and similar words are pronounced here.
  • I really did not realize that “Do not be haughty” was in the bible… I need to check what translation that was.
  • I miss “you may kiss the bride” and no, that balcony scene did not make up for its lack.
  • British royal titles are really confusing. Apparently you have to be born a princess, if you marry a prince you take his name (!) like Princess Michael of Kent. Since “Princess William” sounds silly, we’ll be hearing “Duchess of Cambridge” a lot from now on…
  • The whole “Jerusalem” thing must really have confused the Americans watching the broadcast. I’ve been here nearly five years and I’m still sort of dumbstruck by the entire thing. I would have loved to listen to the American commentary trying to explain that one to the American public… (Did anyone hear any commentary on this?)
  • Have you ever really paid attention to the lyrics of “God Save the Queen”? Not the least repetitive song I’ve ever heard…
  • Given how excellent the TfL tea-towel design is, was anyone else disappointed to hear “I will” instead of “I do”? (And yes, that is the only royal wedding souvenir I bought.)
  • Back to the British vs French thing again, my apologies, but why is the Prince’s middle name “Lou-ee” and not “Lou-iss”?
  • What’s Kate’s last name now? I know officially the Prince is supposed to be some double-barrelled concoction that includes “Windsor” but he seems to go by “Wales” all the time. Kate Wales? Kate Cambridge? What?
  • I think I figured out why everyone wanted to watch this. Normally when celebrities get married it’s not televised, and if it is then it’s usually really tacky (The Bachelorette or some bad E-TV special with D-list celebrities). So it’s not that often that a nice wedding gets shown on the telly.
  • You have to feel for all the people sitting in the back forty who could not see a thing.

OK I’ll stop. It was an interesting sight to behold, to say the least. And no, I never once even considered going into central London to fight the crowds.

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Back from the US in time for the wedding hoopla…

(Fun fact: spell-check just corrected my errant typing of “hooplah” to the clearly far more sensible “hoopla”…)

Ah April, I hardly knew ye. I have now returned from my four weeks in the US, which was divided just over half work and just under half fun. That said, some of the work was actually pretty fun, so I can’t really complain about it. It was a total whirlwind, in part because I travelled all over the country, visiting South (Miami) and North (Boston), East (New York City) and West (Las Vegas). Not to mention points in-between, including three fabulous days at the Grand Canyon.

Somehow no one in our nuclear family (parents, sister and me) had ever seen the Grand Canyon, whereas we had all been to the Great Wall of China and we’ve all spent time in major European capitals–for a group of reasonably well-travelled people, we have missed huge sections of our own country. So the highlight of the trip for me was the hilarious “family vacation” done approximately eighteen years since the last time we had a family vacation (in my last year at home and in high school). We rented an SUV and drove out to the canyon from Vegas, taking in a few amazing foodie stops (Nobu before the Canyon and Mesa Grill after the canyon and before leaving Las Vegas). We played CDs of old road-trip music from the era of the last family vacation, including ABBA and our home-made “Monster Ballads” mix made up of classic slow songs from hair metal bands. We all commented on why it was that we could remember the lyrics to all of this music from several decades ago, but struggle to remember things that we really need to remember these days.

Now I should point out that my family, growing up, was not what you would call “outdoorsy” and so a visit to a National Park to do some hiking was a bit of a departure for us. I admit to being part of the driving force for this, as I have spent more and more time doing such things in the last decade. We are all keen walkers and so “hiking” was not really that much of a departure, although the 10% average grade on the vertical ascents up the canyon walls were pretty intense. Overall in two big hikes we did 9 miles and just over 3000 ft down and back up again. It was awesome. If anything, it made me want to turn around and go back and do more canyon hiking ASAP.

After the trip, I bought and devoured the Ken Burns National Parks documentary set. If ever there was a reason to feel proud to be an American, that is definitely a good one.

As usual, I took a few hundred photos and am struggling to sort through them for the best ones, but I didn’t mind this one at all:

And now, gearing up for 48 hours of mass royal wedding hysteria. I did not come back to the UK on purpose to be “on time” for the wedding, it just happened that my US trip’s logical conclusion fell early this week. Returning “home” to a few days of work and a long weekend with two bank holidays also seemed like a good idea in terms of beating jet-lag. But as for the wedding itself… So much great commentary has been written that I hardly know where to begin. I suspect that should be the subject of another post…

Quick Update from the Land of the Budget Stalemate

I’m in America for what has been to date a pretty great trip. I’m a bit exhausted, as I’ve travelled around the US East Coast quite a bit for having only been here for ten days; I’ve been as far north as Boston and as far south as Miami and to many points in between. But at the end of a great week, I find myself in New York City having the best of days and the worst of days. I’m having the most fun here that I’ve had in a long time; I’ve been living out scenes from movies or TV or something. I went to a gallery opening/performance art installation in Chelsea last night, then out for dinner near the Highline and out for drinks in the East Village. (I didn’t know what any of those place names meant before yesterday, as I’ve never spent much time in NYC!) I should be looking forward to a great week ahead but I’m sitting here seething because the US government is about to potentially shut down and ruin most of my plans for next week. I was supposed to be spending a few days visiting colleagues at a US government laboratory. If the budget stalemate stands, I will not be able to work with them. I was supposed to be taking a family vacation to the Grand Canyon with my parents and sister, but if the budget stalemate stands, I will not be able to visit this national park. Suddenly this little bit of political theatre is f%^&*ing up my plans for a full week and a bit more, and I’m absolutely livid thinking about it. I know I’ve read commentary in the UK news, being all typically smug and superior and saying “this would never happen here” and that may be true, but it also should not be possible that this is happening in the US. While I am upset about the things that will affect me personally, I am even more upset about the prospect of the military having to still fight but not get paid in combat zones. People, this is not acceptable. Until I moved to the UK I did not know active military personnel, but now I do and I am outraged on their behalf. And I am just generally irritated at the toxic nature of American partisan politics. Normally I’d be back in the UK and talking–as I did around the time of the election–about the fact that I did not miss being in the US when politics got really nasty. Now I’m here for it and I just want to click my heels three times and be back in the UK, all while simultaneously seeing my military and government employee friends not get shafted by a bunch of congressional millionaires who have no idea how their games will affect the lives of normal people… grrrrrrrrrr.