What a blast it’s been living in London for the past two weeks. Royal fever swept the capital and virtually everyone – save for a few grumpy Republicans – went along for the ride. Regent Street was awash with Union Jacks, shops all along Oxford Street – from Selfridges to the corner kebab shop joined in the festivities with window decorations and tributes to Wills and Kate. Hats, masks, tea towels, bags, crockery, t-shirts, magnets, playing cards, scarves, badges, buttons, caps, bunting, umbrellas – you name it the shops stocked it. My favourites were those manufacturers with a little more imagination and tongues pressed firmly in cheeks; a plate that reads “Kate’s Wedding List: Toaster, Dinner Set, Throw Pillows, New Tiara, Oxfordshire.” Or another that said “It Should Have Been Me” and a mug that had “Thanks For The Free Day Off” (all available at John Lewis online by the way!).
First prize though to the company that came up with Crown Jewels Condoms of Distinction. Presented in a “timeless souvenir heirloom collector’s box” reads the company’s marketing online blurb, the unique pack contains 3 condoms that combine “the strength of a Prince with the yielding sensitivity of a Princess-to-be” to “promise a royal union of pleasure.” It concludes: “Truly a King amongst Condoms.” How cool that the monarchy and those paid to protect the brand were happy to approve all this stuff. It shows that they have a sense of fun and have moved on from the stuffy image in which they are so often portrayed.
As I sit at my laptop bashing away at this blog, there’s a street party going on right outside my window. Repetitive 80s tunes are blaring out of tinny speakers and the smell of hamburgers and hotdogs is drifting into my window. There are people everywhere – all shapes, sizes and ages – getting into the spirit of things. Kids on skateboards, tattooed blokes puffing cigarettes and necking bottles of beer, their wives and girlfriends mostly in outfits one size too small for them, grannies in wheelchairs wearing silly hats and babies in prams and pushchairs with painted faces. For a few hours all the troubles of England are forgotten – the recession, the strikes, the Libyan conflict, the unemployment – and everyone is celebrating the union of a young couple.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the Brits in the 10+ years I’ve lived here: They sure know how to throw a damn good bash.