Doing battle with daily dragons

Monday, September 12, 2005

Last Night in the Mud

I have a huge affection for my adopted country.

This is the scene: Saturday evening. The air is sultry and threatening. Indeed, distant rolls of thunder can be heard above the guy who’s singing “Jerusalem” directly into my left ear. The Rock Star, myself, The Chorister and her significant other, The Playwright, are sitting in the middle of a seething mass of humanity in Hyde Park for the Last Night of the Proms. We make it through the salmon sandwiches, the humus and Pringles, the cous-cous, the cherry tomatoes and most of a pitcher of Pimms while enjoying the sultry sounds of the BBC Big Band, Claire Teal and a Queen Tribute act before The Chorister reports feeling the first large droplet of rain.

The Rock Star and I are nothing if not prepared for once in our lives. Taking long boat trips during an English summer often necessitate the donning of full waterproofs which we fortuitously brought along for just such a turn of events. The Rock Star was particularly relieved to find his, as the only other ones that fit him belong to PPD and would be more appropriate on an off-shore oil platform in a force 10 gale rather than a spot of drizzle at a picnic. Did I mention that they also happen to be nuclear orange?

So here’s what I love. Did the rain stop the picnics? No, the umbrellas and tarpaulins sprouted like magnificent, waterproof flowers. Did the lightening stop the show? No, although we were disappointed that it missed it’s cue during “Bohemian Rhapsody”. (Thunderbolt and lightning/very very frightening) Did the deluge that followed dampen anyone’s enthusiasm for the traditional finale? Of course not! (To be honest, the inexplicably long stint of Mick Hucknall on stage drove more people away than the rain.) Dammit, it was summertime and everyone was going to bloody well enjoy themselves. As long as you could keep your champagne from getting watered down, and your union jack from sticking to itself, everything else was secondary.

And, despite the heaven’s opening, I do enjoy a good sing-song, even if it does extol the Victorian, empire-building values of 19th century imperialists. I’ve always had a niggling thought at the back of my mind, however, that there might be someone from the US state department just behind me, waiting to throw me in a dark cell somewhere should the first few notes of “God Save the Queen” escape my lips.

So, as we trudged back to the car park through the quagmire feeling slightly soggy and uplifted, we reflected on the satisfying end of another British summer.

I’ll be expecting them to come for my passport later this week.