On this, the final day of the London 2012 Paralympics, with Twitter and Facebook ablaze with “London, you rock!” themed proclamations, I find myself reflecting on what an odd year it has been to be away from home. Our first year in a strange and exciting new land would always, of course, be slightly bittersweet. But this summer, you British bastards have really been rubbing it in!!!
The first major morale-boosting occasion, warming even the coldest of cockles, and setting church bells ringing all over the land was, of course, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Well, I suppose the entire year of 2012 is the Queen’s Jubilee Year, but the major celebrations were held on the weekend of 2nd – 5th June. Yes, a 4 day weekend, where the entire country (um, more or less) was granted an additional holiday, on top of the annual Spring Bank Holiday, to wave their ASDA Smart Price Union Jack flags, knock back patriotic pints of Adnams ale and blast out melodic interpretations of “Jerusalem” as if fame and fortune (or Simon Cowell’s version of it, at least) depended on it.
Katie Couric tried to get in on the action with her “The Jubilee Queen” special on ABC, but, tear-jerking as it was, it just wasn’t the same as actually being there. And if I had a dollar for every “Drinking Pimms at our brilliantly British street party” Facebook status I had to endure, well, I guess I’d be about 37 dollars up and shopping in Whole Foods already!
We did manage to watch a few snippets of the celebrations on TV, regularly and rudely interrupted by the wails of our unsympathetically American 5 week old son, and I have to say, it all did make me proud of my homeland. The Brits came together in a brilliant show of sodality, with street parties galore, flags flown from every window, and crowds lining the streets wherever the Jubilee tour dared to pass. The Queen, our dear Liz, and her Philip were incredible – the hours and hours spent standing on a boat in the Jubilee flotilla, waving to their loyal subjects in the cold, damp June weather…I know I couldn’t have done it, and I’m not 92!
Yeah, OK, it turns out that Prince Philip really shouldn’t have done it either, but details schmetails….
It all culminated in a fantastic concert, put together by the darling of the British press, our dear Gary Barlow. Known in another lifetime as “the fat one from Take That”, the Northern lad done good this year, and I think a whole nation fell in love with this ambitious, charismatic and down-to-earth family man, who entertained the masses with his glittering Buckingham Palace gig. Admittedly, the less said about Macca, the better, but you can’t win them all.
(how badly does this guard regret that cough!)
So that was June, and the Jubilee. Homesick levels…hmm….well, it was cold and rainy on all the footage I saw, so I’d give it a 6/10.
And then came Wimbledon. Oh, Andy. Andy, Andy, Andy. He only went and made it to the bloody final!
The first British man (and a Scot, no less) to make it to a Wimbledon final in 74 years. Seventy four years. SEVENTY FOUR! And it had to happen this year. To echo another Wimbledon great, “Oh, come ON !!!!”. The excitement was intense, the tension absolutely palpable, and it’s a miracle that Henman Hill (or Murray Mound as it will surely be forever known from here on in) didn’t collapse under the weight of tennis fans swilling faux champagne as they bounced excitedly on plaid picnic blankets. And then….oh, then. My heart broke along with you all when that irritatingly talented Roger Federer shattered the dreams of our fair isles after such an enthralling match, and I cried with our lovely, yet much maligned, Murray as he sobbed his way through his consolation speech.
And yes, I wished I had been there. Homesick level…I’d give it an 8/10.
And then came July. The Olympics.
God damn you, London. If I’d known you were going to push our Queenie out of a plane with just James Bond and a Union Jack parachute for company, I’d never have left! Seriously, I still can’t talk about it. 65 medals? 29 golds? And Kirstie Allsop giving a running commentary on Twitter 24-7? It was just too much…. NOT helped by the fact I live in a house with only one TV, and a 2 year old who insists that the only thing worth watching is Octonauts. On loop. All day, every day, so help me God! I think I managed to catch a snippet of the opening ceremony, and I saw Mo Farah win his awesome 5,000m gold, but for the rest of the 2 weeks of Olympic mania, I’m afraid I would have been completely in the dark, had it not been for all the “OMG, GOOOOOLD” Facebook statuses filling up my news feed.
And now, to top off an action-packed year for Blighty, the Paralympics.
London’s 2012 Paralympics have apparently helped to completely change the attitude of people across the country, if not the world, regarding our less able-bodied compatriots. Another 34 gold medals for Team GB, including an incredible hat trick for Sarah Storey, means that we now look upon these astonishing athletes with nothing but admiration and pride. Thank goodness for The Independent for providing me with a handy wrap-up of the summer’s sporting events, while I was otherwise engaged with the adventures of Captain Barnacus!
On a more personal level, being so far away from home this year has meant missing the birth of some truly gorgeous new babies, a wedding, an engagement and, tragically, a funeral. I’ve not been able to introduce my Dear Henry to my closest friends, or share his squidgy cuddles with the majority of my family, and I’ve missed out on seeing my nieces grow into such strong-willed and entertaining young ladies.
However, on a more positive note…as the UK finally starts to dry out from one of the worst summers in living memory, we have just completed Day 48 of rain –free, sunshiney days. Making this the 2nd driest Seattle summer on record.
So yah, boo, sucks to you, Great Britain. Stick that in your smug, stinky pipe and smoke it!
PS – I love you! Homesickness levels….. 9/10!