I’ve had a crush the size of the Two Fat Ladies on the Motherland, probably since I was old enough to Sing a Song of Six Pence. Who doesn’t love singing about four and twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie? And while we’re at it, who doesn’t love the Two Fat Ladies? They make national dishes with zany names like Bubble & Squeak, then they get on their motorcycle w/side car and roll away. Very entertaining!
Not sure exactly why the fascination started. Perhaps it’s that innate sense of heritage – I am English, Dutch and French on my mother’s side. Although from what I know about my ancestors, many were of Quaker descent and probably got the boot in the 17th Century. So let’s fast-forward to the 1970s and examine the appeal. It’s safe to say my first introduction was through the telly. Thanks to my older brother, who was in charge of channels, two vastly different male personae made quite an impression: James Bond and Benny Hill. Suavity and gadgetry vs. slapstick and goofiness. I was enthralled.
Then the 1980s hit and with it, the NWOBHM. Say what? A musical movement the critics dubbed the New Wave of British Heavy Metal had sloshed up against our U.S. shores and stormed across much of Middle America. Through the magic of Mtv, the British musicians invaded our living rooms in their tight trousers and their London leather. My friends and I were happily pledging allegiance to the Union Jack – completely entranced.
We didn’t just love the NWOBHM males – most of our über-hip rock heroes were also from the right side of the pond: Bowie, Townshend, Jagger – we were enchanted! My childhood best friend and I vowed we would one day travel to Blighty together.
And we did, 20 years later. Thanks to the internet, we found each other after a decade-long separation and renewed our friendship. Soon after, we traveled to London together. The internet has made the world a much smaller marble, and I have since made many friends who call England home. A few years later, I hopped the pond again; to London, Sheffield and Birmingham. These trips were mostly music-related, so confined to the cities. Next time, my goal is to see some of the countryside.
I know my view of England is through big-ass, Elton John-worthy rose-coloured glasses. No place on Earth is perfect, and England certainly has its share of 1st World problems. Even still – England evokes elation!