Rule Britannia

This is such an exciting year to live in the United Kingdom.

 

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was last month, and I take back everything I ever said about that being a ho-hum affair. There was a four-day weekend, a flotilla, and the Queen’s visage slapped on every bit of marketable swag from here to Swansea. It’s been such a wretchedly cold, rainy summer (worse than last year, which was the worst in several years) but on the last day of the four-day weekend the skies parted for a bit and we got to indulge in a little bit of our favorite summer pastime: outdoor day drinking.

I really haven’t any kind of a chin, do I?

No matter! The point is that for twenty minutes in June, we celebrated an event not to be repeated in our lifetimes: the sixtieth anniversary of a British monarch taking the throne. Put it this way: for this to be repeated in my life, (God save the) Queen Elizabeth II would have to pass away today, Prince Charles would have to abdicate so Prince William could assume the throne, he would have to live until at least ninety years old, and I would have to live until the age of 88 to see it happen. While life expectancies (particularly for someone like Prince William, treated to every sort of possible health advantage of the modern age) are getting longer, the odds of all those things happening are not high.

However you feel about the monarchy, and I understand the backlash against them, many people here have known only one Queen and they find her and her closet of sensible pastels a stable, comforting presence. She’s like Mr. Rogers with a crown instead of a cardigan. And thanks in huge part to the Duchess of Cambridge (you know her as Kate Middleton, or “That chick with the amazingly perfect hair all the time, how do you beat the English rain frizzies?!”) there’s been an upswing in royal popularity. It’s nice to see.

The other huge event? I’ll give you a hint: it involves the world’s very finest abs.

 

That’s the Olympic torch, guys, and it came through town less than a mile from my house. Go Team GB! Well, not really, but I am pretty pumped to be in the same time zone as the Games. We haven’t stocked up on any (overpriced) merchandise but I did add two London 2012 Games keyrings to the girls’ collection of souvenir keychains. Also, we’re going to take advantage of all the city improvements sans crowds and go to London for a few days in December to enjoy the freshly-scrubbed city at Christmastime.

In non-2012-specific news, Moira’s officially an alien. That is, she’s officially a legal resident of the United Kingdom with the privilege to live, study, and interestingly enough, work until March 2014.

When we had to travel for my grandfather’s funeral we didn’t have all her paperwork in order so we did a little risk analysis with regard to immigration: three out of four members of our party had proper papers, and the fourth was an infant. The most likely scenario is that they let her back into the UK with a slap on our wrists and we get chewed out. Like Brad Pitt says in Inglourious Basterds, “I’ve been chewed out before.” They didn’t even do that–just gave her a visitor visa and told us to resolve it within six months. We did, and she’s good. Alas, the loophole wherein you are given dual citizenship simply by virtue of your birth taking place abroad has been closed, and so Moira may be a resident alien but she is not a UK citizen. Pity, because citizenship to an EU country would open up soooo many doors for her employment-wise later on. (That’s assuming the Eurozone doesn’t collapse and the job situation recovers, which is a post for another day, but let me just say that I am only feeling the slightest twinge of guilt by taking advantage of the monetary crisis to schedule exceptionally cheap travel in the next 12 months.)

And finally, Margaret is by far the most assimilated of our family.

Ever-present hat? Check. Proper mac for the rain, even on a sunny day? Check. Obsessed with Cornish pasties, lamb oggies, and sausage rolls? Check. Calls cookies “biscuits,” her rain boots “wellies,” and pronounces “bottle” as “bot-tol”? Check, check, check. She goes to a lovely English Montessori preschool and routinely comes home covered in Yorkshire dirt, raving about Lottie and Lulu, the school’s baby lambs (it’s a working farm as well). I think leaving will be hardest on her, but hopefully we have until 2014 to deal with that (and maybe longer, if we get a lucky break).

So! Despite our love of Hawaii and the hardship of leaving the islands, I daresay the UK is working out splendidly for us. We can collectively, as a family, exhale: we rolled the dice on a move abroad, and it’s been fantastic. Lucky, lucky us.

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