One of the greatest pleasures in my life is reading English Home & Garden magazines. I literally can't get enough of them! You can often find me in the cafe at Borders or Barnes & Noble perusing the latest issues. Yes, I am one of those people. I'd actually buy them all but they're expensive at $8-$10 a pop. When I want to really treat myself, I'll buy an issue to bring home and drool over from time to time. Today, as I was losing myself in the pages of the June 2010 issue of "The English Home", I starting making a mental list for myself. You see, I have always been convinced that I am, in some way, English. Could be that I existed in a previous life as an English man or woman. Could just be that I have English blood in my family (yes, this probably makes more sense!). Whatever it is, here is my list of reasons why I am, in some part, English (in no order of importance):
1.) Among my list of favorite things in life, gardening and tea are right at the very top. Hello....English and English. In an English publication that I read recently, someone suggested that many English folks take better care of their gardens than they do of their children. While that doesn't apply here, I do certainly spend more time thinking of the outdoors than the indoors (you won't find a domestic diva here!). And anyone who knows me at all can tell you how much I adore tea. The only thing that comforts me more is a nice hot shower. When I lived in Europe, I babysat for two English families and I would get giddy when they'd make me a "spot of tea" in the afternoon. Try as I might, I still have not mastered that perfect cup of Black English Breakfast tea with the precise amounts of cream and sugar added.
2.) I love their simplicity in decor. Also, they're the only folks I know who love the color blue more than myself and who aren't afraid to use it. Look at any Colefax & Fowler book and you'll see what I mean.
3.) Space comes at a premium anywhere in Europe and England is no exception. SO, naturally, they've learned to make really good uses of small spaces. In general, I find their homes to be much more cozy, warm and welcoming than a lot of the cavernous homes here in this country. They make use of every square inch of their homes - no space is wasted. There is no shortage of character. I really appreciate that when I see it. And it gives me good ideas....
4.) Who has more adorable tea towels than the English? And I do adore me some cute tea towels....
5.) They are not afraid to use vintage flower, checked and/or striped fabrics. I love that!
6.) This is a very important one. SCONES WITH CLOTTED CREAM AND JAM. Yes, that could easily be my favorite food on Earth. I can count on one hand the number of times I've been lucky enough to enjoy this treat. Oh my. It's simply divine.
7.) I've only ventured out of London once. My dear friend, Helena, and I took a tour bus trip out to Stonehenge and Bath and some other charming little villages. I'm telling you, the rolling, lush, verdant hills took my breath away. And the precious sheep. And the sweet little cottages dotting the hillside. I was smitten. And I felt like I belonged there. It's a feeling I don't get all that often. God was in a good mood the day he created the English countryside!
8.) I will never forget that day back in 1993 when a friend and I chose to skip our studies and go to the movies. We didn't know anything playing so we took a chance and saw a little movie we'd never heard of. Yes, Four Weddings and a Funeral. I was not myself for days. Those of you who know me know that I have a small little infatuation for Hugh Grant. Yes, I know. I know what you're thinking. Trust me, no one was more upset by his little "incident" than me. Okay, maybe Elizabeth Hurley. But still. Who has hair like that? And the glasses? And the accent? And the height? And who is that smart (he went to Oxford)? And who can pull off a pair of cords, an oxford and a nice sweater like Hugh Grant? Not many. Swoon. That scene in Love Actually where he dances? It kills me. Just kills me. I think it's the closest I've ever come to actually fainting.
9.) While we're speaking of innocent crushes, let's also not forget Colin Firth. He was born into an academic family and just seems so smart. He has an air about him. Interesting tidbit -> these two fellows were born only one day apart (September 9th and 10th) back in 1960.
10.) Duran Duran. I was president of their fan club in my elementary school. While my parents never allowed me to go to their concert when I was young, I've since forgiven them and made up for lost time. I've now seen them five times. They do not disappoint. While I was always a John Taylor fan, I've come to really appreciate Simon LeBon. Boy, he is an entertainer the likes that I have rarely seen. Dad, you were wrong when you said they wouldn't last. I'm just sayin'.... :-)
11.) Princess Diana. We watched the Royal Wedding back in elementary school. It was the first time I realized that princesses could be real. Diana was beautiful, regal, charming, elegant, sweet, unsure, lost, a victim of unrequited love. I adored her. Still do. AND, she seriously has to be one of the best dressed women of all time (in the later years, once she came into her own). Jackie O ~ no thanks, not for me. But Diana, now she was really something.
12.) I've always gravitated to anyone English. In school, one of my closest friends was Shnook. He has since become American but, trust me, he is SO English. I love that about him (along with many other things). In my small town, he was the most foreign friend I could find. And my good friend Carl was the ONE English exhange student - I found him on his very first day of school and told him we were friends. He never had a choice. And he'd always laugh when I'd ask why on EARTH he would ever choose to leave Surrey to come to Lynchburg. For the record, he still lives there!!!
13.) I LOVE movies and some of the best (for me) are English. About A Boy, Bridget Jones, An Education (if you haven't seen this one, you should!!!), Notting Hill, The Holiday (I love the English bits!).
14.) The English can take credit for some of the best words in the English language. Loo, bloke, Wellies, stodgy, blimey, knickers, lolly, chap, knackered, bugger (and who says this better than Hugh Grant?), bangers, bum, dodgy, gobsmacked, jolly, Mum.....need I go on?....and one of my favorite sayings...."you are off your trolley".
15.) I have English humor. Dry, black, sarcastic, caustic. I adore Benny Hill. And I'm quite fond of Rowan Atkinson (although I preferred him before he came to America and was just overdone). I love how the Brits make fun of themselves, foreigners and social ineptness.
16.) Still to this day, I think nothing can make you sound more sophisticated than an upper crust English accent. And my how I love to practice.
17.) The song "Misunderstanding" by Genesis. Read my 5/24/2010 post to understand. (Added 5/24/2010)
As I was making this mental list, I kept thinking to myself that there must be some good reasons why I was born American. Yes indeed, there are several:
1.) I don't like pubs. Yikes. I know a few of you are groaning. But they're dark and smoky and I don't drink beer.
2.) While I appreciate their influence in the music world, I despise the Beatles. And I don't actually care much for the Rolling Stones either. Channel change material.
3.) For me, the #1 biggest luxury in life is a hot shower. And, still to this day, no matter where I've stayed, I've never had a full-on hot shower in England in my life. Without fail, it always turns cold. Ask my husband or my parents ~ you don't ever want to deal with me if I've had a cold shower. Yikes.
4.) I have no patience for royalty. Snooze.
5.) Marmite makes me gag.
6.) And the last reason I can think of is that I don't care much for roses. Crack open ANY English gardening magazine and you will quickly find that they are obsessed with roses.
So there you go. I guess I just needed to get this out there. Any good English things that I missed???