Saturday, 30 April 2011

Great British Traditions

I don't think many people the world over could have missed the fact that yesterday was Royal Wedding day here in the UK. The nation has been in a fever for months, but in the last week all anyone seems to have been thinking about, writing about and talking about was the impending nuptials of William and Kate.

Like the rest of the country, even though my deadline is looming large on the horizon, I couldn't resist turning the TV on and watching at least some of the festivities. It's practically research, after all!

I edited the current book in the morning, stopped to watch the royal family arriving at Westminster Abbey and the arrival of the bride and groom. I also watched the vows and prayers, but then I disappeared back up to my 'office', definitely romantically inspired, to write a first kiss scene between my hero and heroine. No similarities to William and Kate's balcony kiss, I'm afraid, as this one took place on a desert island in a thunderstorm, but I was pretty pleased with the result, and it definitely ups the conflict and emotion in that part of the story, which is what I was looking for.

When the Royal Wedding guests disappeared inside Buckingham palace I went back to work, but after sorting out most of chapter eight and nine, I gatecrashed a street party in a road literally round the corner. Well, not exactly gatecrashed, as my family had been invited by friends who lived there to join them. It wasn't so much a formal street party as people setting up their barbecues and garden furniture outside their houses and generally wandering around getting to know the neighbours. The street had been officially closed for the day and someone had hired a bouncy castle for the kids to play on. Everyone had a wonderful time.

But then street parties, as well as Royal Weddings, are something us Brits know how to do well. I have a wonderful picture of my grandmother (3rd from the left), mother and her twin sister (twins with white ribbons 3rd & 5th from left on far side of table) enjoying a similar occasion in Clockhouse, London at the end of the second world war.

However, the street party above, with its pristine white table cloth and everyone in their Sunday best, was a little different from the one I attended yesterday. Shorts and t-shirts were the order of the day in 2011, and instead of nicely cut cucumber sandwiches we had charred burgers and salads, but we did also engage in yet another great British tradition that my ancestors probably steered well clear of in their 1945 finery - British Bulldog.
Now, for those of you not familiar with the term, British Bulldog is a playground game with a playing area of varying size (depends on where you are playing), where one player (bulldog) tries to catch the others as they rush past him from one end of the pitch to the other. Those caught help the bulldog to catch more until only one is left. (If you really want to know all the rules you can find them here).

After a few beers had been consumed, one of the dads on the street suggested a game. Mr Harper initially refused, as last time he played a game of British Bulldog he broke a bone in his hand and it has never been the same since. However, it didn't take much persuading to get him up and having a go, and I have to say that I haven't seen Mr H move that fast in about 20 years!

On the first pass of the first game there was injury. Which is probably why a lot of schools banned this game when I was younger. Injured party was nine year old girl in white dress (Belonging to me. The girl, not the dress, that is.) who was mowed down by another child on a bike. Rules clearly explained to child on bike and game resumes. Nine year old receives germoline and plasters from kind mum at nearest house and cuddles from non-Bulldog playing parent (me).

I wish I could say that was the only mishap incurred during the game, but after one of the participants had to be taken to hospital with a dislocated shoulder the game, not surprisingly, was dropped in favour of cricket.

The street party, however, carried on into the evening without any further mishap. It was lovely to have a day off work (well, for most people - I had to keep popping home to do a bit more editing) and have nothing to do but celebrate the Royal wedding by getting out of our houses, away from the television and out into the sunshine to meet each other and forge new relationships.

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