Monday, November 14, 2011

Love letters

I guess I feel a burning need to discuss my Anglophilia, post a very fun trip to London this past week.  Sure, I don't know any other languages so maybe it's just laziness on my part.  Or could it be heritage?  My grandfather's family immigrated from England (by way of Ireland of course, but that used to be a family secret) at the turn of the twentieth century and when I was a kid my relatives still embraced an awful lot of Irish and English culture within the family.  Although 70 years later it was mostly expressed in the form of insanity but also in our family food preparation, dress, commonly used words and phrases and grudges held.  
bikes and phone boxes still around in 2011
Andrew Sullivan, slightly more popular blogger than I, posted this weekend about what he misses most about England.  It got me thinking about what is special for me.  It's certainly not the people, or the weather, or even the food that keeps me coming back.  One doesn't always feel the love when it comes to these dimensions of English life.  But I relish crazy little things, like the idea of a shadow government functioning in fantasy alongside the real government.  I love that in an otherwise expensive economy for consumers, candy and tabloids are and have always been an incredible bargain.  I love all British comedy and most British TV, music and newspapers.  I love that department stores are alive and well.  I love that pubs are full in the afternoons of people drinking beer and that people smoke cigarettes (granted outside now) without looking furtive or ashamed.  I love that the whole country has shared identity through the BBC and the monarchy and the Church of England.  I love that women's fashion is always slightly slutty and that breast cleavage is freely shown and rarely mentioned.

my favorite department store

delicious meal at The Ivy after the theater,
where the star of our play came in minutes after us and sat just two tables away

I love that you can say "fuck" on television but never "bloody".  I love, and I will loosely quote Andrew Sullivan who said it most aptly, "[the lack] of religious extremism in public discourse."  I love the year round greenness of grass and the care of a garden rather than a lawn.  I love the tradition of arranging small Christmas parties at restaurants with friends and colleagues and the very dear aspect of those parties which is hand delivering Christmas cards to one another given out at the table like valentines.   I love the progressive nature of art appreciation in London within the same society that has a great misunderstanding still of what causes illness and what cures it.  This fact was never so clear to me as when Olivia's foot was runover at school by a car and while waiting for the ambulance, the school secretary made her a cup of tea.

a perfect view of parliament
So there's my love letter about my homeland.  As for my love letter about my husband, I simply state in the most British way possible, "Well done you."  I feel lucky and always slightly suspicious of being undeserving of all the love and good stuff in life that feels heaped upon me, like Mardi Gras beads on a baby.  But I'm mixing my geographic metaphors.
I am terrible at selfies