England was the center of attention this weekend when The Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee and sixty years on the throne. The royalty, the boats, the fanfare, the people! And just like the wedding of William and Kate, people went nuts over this.
I don’t blame them.
It’s not that I’m only obsessed with royalty, I’m obsessed with everything British. I’m a total Anglophile. If it’s British, I love it. The weather, the accents / dialects, the pubs, the countryside, the slang, the history, and even the food! Spotted dick? Hilarious. (It’s pudding with dried fruit, in case you’re wondering).
My love for the British is just another one of the many things I’m blaming on Christian Bale. When I was 13 and learned that this handsome boy came from a place called Bournemouth in southern England, I decided that England was the best place in the world. From there I discovered that England is much more than cute boys (though there are many of those as well).
My husband and I traveled to London nine years ago, back before we were married. It was our first big trip together, so it was a pretty big deal. We went during the week of Valentine’s Day, because where else would I want to go to celebrate the man and the country that I loved?
The weather was frightfully cold and rainy, but we didn’t care. We were in London. We walked everywhere and saw everything there is to see in London. The London Eye, the Millennium Bridge, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Harrods, Kings Cross Station, Portobello Road (where I ran into Minnie Driver, like, literally – the woman nearly plowed me down), the West End, Kensington Gardens, Buckingham Palace, and Whitechapel. We paid for our tea with British currency. We drank British beer. We bought British editions of books we already owned. We stayed at a hostel with a bunch of crazy Germans. And we also spent Valentine’s Day itself at the Tower of London, which is like the most romantic place on earth. Seriously.
Love is in the air.
And since at the time I was going through my Lord of the Rings / Orlando Bloom phase, I made sure we stopped by the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, which is where he attended school, and where his sister was currently attending. We went inside and walked around, and then when I was looking at one of the bulletin boards I noticed a class list that had the name “Samantha Bloom” (his sister) on it.
So I stole it.
I also accidentally left my gloves in the girls’ bathroom. *karma*
We also spent one of our days in Oxford, which is another awesome place to hang out, especially if you’re a Tolkien fan like us. It was freezing that day, but we found refuge in an 800-year-old Pizza Express, which turned out to be our favorite restaurant chain while we were there (we went to three different ones).
After our trip, I was fully in love with England, even though I had only been to two cities. It suddenly seemed that all my favorite actors were British…Orlando Bloom, Christian Bale, Keira Knightley, Christian Coulson, Jude Law, Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet…I could name about a hundred of them. I started watching a lot of British TV shows like Doctor Who, Footballer’s Wives, Mile High, Eastenders, The Catherine Tate Show, Coupling, and Top Gear, which of course made me love British cars.
I also decided that British football was much better than American football and frequently stole my husband’s Manchester United David Beckham jersey. This was before David Beckham was David Beckham. He was super popular in the UK, but not too many people knew who he was on this side of the pond.
Oh, and British music? I have two words for you. The Beatles. That is all.
I can’t write about being an Anglophile without mentioning Harry Potter. Part of the reason why I love those books so much is because they’re so British. I love that J.K. Rowling didn’t try to Americanize them too much (though I’m still kind of annoyed that they changed Philosopher’s Stone to Sorcerer’s Stone for us silly Americans). Whenever I feel like I’m homesick for England, I’ll most likely read a Harry Potter book.
Or watch Love Actually and Bend It Like Beckham.
And speaking of literature, just think of all the literature that has come from England. You have Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, The Chronicles of Narnia and everything Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and The Brontes ever wrote, not to mention England’s famous mythologies of Robin Hood and King Arthur? And who doesn’t love a juicy Arthur/Lancelot/Guinevere story?
Although I consider myself to be “a very unpublished writer”, I began writing a story that took place in London about a girl who grew up in Carlisle, which is located in northern England near the Scotland border. This story required me to do a TON of research. I had to learn everything about this northern city located in the Lake District. I had other characters from places like Cardiff, Wales; Manchester, UK; Birmingham, UK; and Cambridge, UK, and I had to research those places as well. I spent hours and hours doing research, and I know I wouldn’t have put that much effort into it had I not been absolutely in love with the country.
I got so good at recognizing regional dialects of England that I could tell where a person was from just by listening to them talk. A customer came into work one day and I could immediately tell that she was from somewhere around Newcastle, and when I asked her this I think she was a little frightened that some girl living in southern California knew something like this. I didn’t want to explain the whole “I’m writing a story and I’m doing research” thing, so I just lied and said that I have a friend who lived in Carlisle. I guess it was kind of true, right?
I love learning about British history, whether we’re talking about the early Druids or the Roman invasion or World War II or even as recent as the 1980s riots. Hadrian’s Wall and Stonehenge are fascinating to me. And of course I love learning about British royalty. You can’t call yourself an Anglophile without a little bit of Royal Love.
I loved Princess Diana growing up because we kind of had the same name, and she was pretty. When I was 13 I also decided that I liked her son William, even though he was younger than me. I think I knew that he was going to be kind of gorgeous when he got older. And like much of the world, I was devastated when Diana died.
Shortly after his mom died, William became sort of a heartthrob (duh) and his brother became a rebel (duh) and his dad married the woman he was cheating with while still married to Diana. But luckily William has a good head on his shoulders and 14 years after his mom died he married his longtime girlfriend Kate Middleton, who is lovely. I was one of the many millions of Anglophiles who stayed up until the early hours of the morning when William and Kate got married, because no way in hell was I going to miss that.
Since we were only in England for a week, I definitely want to get back to my other home away from home (I am, however, excluding New Zealand from this because it runs a very close second, and I’ll explain why in a separate blog post). There are many, many more places I want to see in England that we didn’t get to: Windsor Castle, Cambridge, Hampstead, Carlisle (I feel like I know so much about it that I kind of have to go), Newcastle (my favorite beer), Stonehenge, Wales, and many many many other places.
In just a couple of months, the Summer Olympics will be taking place and you can bet that every Anglophile out there will watch every minute of it, just because it’ll be The British Games. I’ll be cheering for the American athletes, of course, but deep down I’ll be cheering the most for my favorite country.
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” – Samuel Johnson