My day was totally dominated by the wedding yesterday. I woke up at 5am and counted the hours until it was due to begin. Then I started getting ready for the party, inbetween trips upstairs to watch every detail and every person arrive at the abbey. At around midday, we headed off to a garden party hosted by BP at the Hilton Hotel here. Of course it is already too hot to be in a garden here, so we were in an air-conditioned marquee, with a HUGE screen and lots of English food such as toad-in-the-hole and Pim’s to drink.
It was just heavenly. I don’t know why, but this sort of English feast makes me so very happy. I sat there, gazing at the screen, praying the rain would hold off in London and feeling thoroughly proud to be British – even though I’m not.
When they sang God Save the Queen we all stood up and I noticed many shed a tear. I wondered how many would rather have been back in Blightly for the big day than in the Middle East, pretending to be in Blighty. I guess that is the fate of the expat, always to be trying to recreate home, which I do endlessly by shopping at M & S, for example, and educating the children in the British system and reading the Daily Mail online several times a day.
“I want to live in England,” I wailed to Rupert when I got home after the balcony kiss. He had gone back for a kip some three hours earlier.
“No you don’t,” he said. “It’s a ghastly place. Have a cup of tea.”
I suppose the reality is that the England I am so in love with doesn’t exist any more, except for maybe in some parts of Chelsea or pockets of the countryside, all places I can’t afford to live in. So perhaps the best thing is to live here, and visit those places as often as possible.
But I would like to be there for the next royal wedding, however lovely the marquee on the lawn in Abu Dhabi was.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2011