24 April 2011

Royal Wedding Special

SwallowGood morning and Happy Easter to you all. More signs of Spring – we had our first swallow sighting at 23 Banbury Road on Tuesday afternoon and the water companies issued the first drought warning of the season. I am guessing the hosepipe ban won’t be far off.

We are presuming that our first swallow is one of the early scouts checking out the area for suitable nesting locations prior to the arrival of the rest of the crowd. Presumably, he had a quick tour of the garage and the rest of the estate before swooping through the open front door to see what was on offer inside. After inspecting the various luxury suites available, he settled on the main guest room; he whooshed in, flew around, crapped on one of Penny’s best pillow cases and, after some gentle persuasion, finally was encouraged to exit by way of the window. Later that afternoon a second swallow appeared (or perhaps it was the same one) and he too decided that the indoor accommodation was preferable to that available in the garage. This time it was our bedroom which was deemed to be the most luxurious lodging available and again, only after much encouragement, was he finally persuaded to vacate the premises. I’ve now put a notice on the front door explaining that there is no spare indoor accommodation available. Then, on Thursday afternoon we were treated to an exhilarating “dog-fight” as three swallows raced and swooped around the skies, chattering at one another and clearly staking their respective claims to be the dominant swallow in the neighbourhood. It’s great to have them back.

As you might guess, our news has been dominated for the past several months by the upcoming royal wedding. Everywhere one is confronted with the images of “Will and Kate” to such an extent that a significant proportion of the UK, it seems, is mightily fed up with the whole event before it even kicks off. As it turns out, along with apparently tens of thousands of others, I shall “unfortunately” be out of the country on the big day enjoying this year’s sometime, occasional trip to Hanover, New Hampshire.

Even the weather forecasters are getting caught up with all the hype; they are being foolishly optimistic in their predictions for the Royal Wedding weekend. Last week there were several stories headlined “Hot and Sunny for Royal Wedding” so we shall see how this compares to their similarly confident prediction of a “Barbeque Summer” in 2009 (which turned out to be one of the most miserable summers we’ve endured).

To be fair, this week has been glorious – warm (not particularly hot but it is only mid-April), with mainly clear and sunny skies. While it’s not quite on a par with Donna’s posting of the Los Angeles weather forecast earlier this year, the following from the BBC web site earlier in the week should give you an indication of how pleasant it has been. Given the forecaster’s track record with longer term predictions, is the announcement of a hot and sunny royal weekend intended to open the heavens and usher in our much-delayed (and indeed missing) April showers? We’ll let you know.

Weather Forecast

Still, there is nothing like a royal wedding to encourage the production of royal memorabilia, some of which is truly “outstanding”. It seems that the Palace had tried to discourage the production of some of the less-flattering items but I guess some of the recent antics of some members of “the Firm” have encouraged producers to adopt a somewhat less reverential attitude than in days gone by. (And, in these more modern times it’s unlikely that anyone will be sent to the Tower).

I had a request from a friend in the States (who shall remain nameless, for the time being anyway but not altogether unrelated to Miles Rosedale) for a parcel of royal wedding commemorative goodies and have managed to accumulate a collection of some truly excellent items. Amongst the wonderful commemorative articles I have collected are:

Royal Wedding Sick Bags

Royal Wedding Sick Bags

Steve Bell Royal Wedding Mug

Steve Bell Royal Wedding Mug

Royal Wedding Dress Up Dolly BookRoyal Wedding Cut Up and Dress Up Book

Royal Wedding MaskRoyal Wedding Masks

and my favourite . . .

Royal Wedding CondomsRoyal Wedding Condoms

Continuing our royal theme, I was on the throne the other day leafing through the current Private Eye which had a collection of what they called “Wedding Balls”, an assortment of snippets from suppliers trying to incorporate the royal wedding into their advertisements for utterly unrelated products or services. Fancy a few examples?

“Kate and Wills or spades and drills? Huge range of products for Spring at Rapid . . . Still waiting for your wedding invite? Looks like you will have to make other plans. Whatever you are up to during the extended Spring holidays, Rapid have a huge range of products to choose from, including automotive equipment, gardening gear, hand and power tools, from leading brands.” – Email advertisement from Rapid Electronics, 19 March

“Join in Royal Wedding Celebrations Offer – Why Not Take Up This Amazing Offer fFrom Metro Rod . . . A 4 hr clean of your drainage system, from the urinals/sinks/toilets or the main underground drains. You decide what’s more important for you. £300 + VAT” – MetroRod Drain Care and Repair (circulated early March)

“A limited-edition range of red, white and blue seed potatoes has been launched to commemorate the royal wedding. Gardeners can mark the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton by growing the patriotic potatoes, which comprise Highland Burgundy Rds, British Queens and Salad Blues.” – Horticulture Week, 25 March

I love the idea that I can have my drains rodded and cleaned in celebration of Will and Kate’s special day!

And although it’s not specifically related to the Royal Wedding, I did find the following description of McWeddings, from the New York Times, amusing:

“McWeddings were devised in line with local customs,” Managing Director Shirley Chang told reporters at a branch of McDonalds in Hong Kong, “particularly Chinese numerology. On arrival, our employees greet each guest with a Big Mac and fries, and there is an apple pie wedding cake, with a single fry on top instead of the traditional cherry. After the ceremony, each guest receives a Happy Meal toy as a gift, while the bride and groom are given a photo frame shaped like Ronald McDonald, marked ‘limited edition number 138’, an auspicious Figure. No alcohol is served at McDonalds, so instead the guests toast the couple with milk shakes and sundaes. You can have a lot of fun with a soft drink and a balloon.”

Three Hong Kong branches of McDonalds introduced cut-price McWeddings in January, and the public response has been enthusiastic. “A typical Chinese wedding costs about $29,000,” anthropologist Gordon Matthews explained, “and it can take the groom’s family many years to save such a sum. By contrast, a McWedding starts at £1,280, including invitation cards, food, drink, gifts, and wedding photos for fifty guests. In the US and Europe, middle-class people look down on McDonalds, but Hong Kong is different. A McDonalds wedding isn’t seen as tacky here. The chief concern here is being able to book your McWedding on the most auspicious date on the lunar calendar.” – New York Times, 27/2/2011

And finally, I think the following was posted on Facebook. It’s certainly been doing the rounds so some of you no doubt will have run across it.

The Royal Wedding Entrance Dance

And, if you haven’t seen the “original”, it’s here.

Much love to you all,

Greg