13 May 2011

Feeling like Janis

Janis Joplin was noted for having uttered the infamous quote: “You can never go home.”
(Poor Janis. I always felt so sorry for her. All she ever wanted was to be accepted and loved by the folks in her hometown.)
 As the fates would have it, I shall soon discover if Janis’ harrowing words are true. Can one ever, actually “go home”?
Tomorrow, the DEB and I are flying to America. My mother’s 85th birthday is next weekend, and we are heading to the American South to celebrate with her. Thankfully, we are making the trip in stages, which will help me ease into the complex—and somewhat fraught--environment.
We are landing in Memphis, we’re going to Graceland (!!) and spending a few days soaking of the culture of the Mississippi Delta. The DEB is beside himself with glee, he absolutely cannot wait.
For me, it is more if a love-hate dynamic. (Unlike my feelings for New York which is pure love-love!) There is something remarkable about the South, it is undoubtedly a place full of charm and character; but it is not without its blemishes and limitations. I suppose the same could be said of any place on the planet.
It is not a matter of being ashamed of where I come from – I am not. But, like Janis J., I have often felt odds with me surroundings, out of step with the status quo. So, I understand what she means.
I face tomorrow with an openness, that could lead to hurt; a skepticism that I think most healthy and wise; and ‘devil-may-care’ abandon that has taken me years to cultivate. 
Britain is my home. And, I miss it already.
p.s. Whenever we go on holiday, I try and read a book (that I’ve never read before) set in or about the location we are going to be in. For this trip I have selected: True Grit by Charles Portis. And, yes, I did see and loved very much the recent film. We saw it at the Spa Centre in Leamington Spa. The evocative music made me weep, and the story made me proud to be an Arkansas girl. The film touched the South that is in my heart.

One step closer!!!

I did it!!

I passed the “Life in the UK” Test today!

I am now one step closer to becoming a British citizen .... and have a head filled with a plethora of useless, though very important information!

How British are you?

Have a go at the “Life in the UK” Test and find out!

Life in the UK Practice Test - 

Trivial Pursuits

The letter, from my friend, actress Sheila Allen, was short and sweet:

Dearest A., I’m glad you're back from the 'savage lands' of the USA! It's been a long sojourn and I'm sure filled with important, excellent things. Good for your Darling English Boy for winning you back for us! It may take time to adjust, but you belong with us!

I hope Sheila’s right. To be sure, my sense of belonging will be put to the test soon enough. In a few months’ time, I shall sit the “Life in the UK Test” to become a full-fledged British citizen.
It is a good thing that I enjoy quizzes!  
The “Life in the UK Test” is a compendium of facts and figures meant to edify would-be Brits in the mores, customs, laws and cultures of the UK. In short, it is the ultimate Pub Quiz. To succeed, one must pass the test with a score of 75%.
In my first attempt at the practice test online, I failed, with a of score 43%. Miffed at my result, I enlisted a few bona fide Brits to take the practice test, as well. My DEB fared slightly better, failing the test with a score of 45%. Our young nephew, Harry, aged 16, scored 17%. A family friend, who is a civil servant, trumped us all with a failing score of 55%.
All of this has led me to wonder whether a test such as this is in fact the best means of measuring an outsider’s suitability for British citizenship. Surely, there is more to being designated “British” than the power of recall. For example, memorizing that 1857 was “the year when British women were first able to divorce their husbands”, has very little to do with my day-to-day village life. So, in response, I have created a Citizenship test of my own – for any would-be residents of Barford.  
Good luck!

Life in Barford Citizenship Test (Passing score: 75%)
a.) Church Bell Ringers rehearse on which night of the week?
b.) Who is the principal contact person for the Heritage Group?
c.)  Barford W.I. meet on what evening?
d.) What year did the new Village Shop open?
e.) How many art galleries are there in Barford?
f.)  Who penned the pantomime, “Alassin”?
g.) What is John Murphy’s former profession?
h.) To learn Scottish Dancing, whom should you contact?
i.)  Characters from which Shakespeare play are depicted on the Mobile Library van?
j.)  At what time is the earliest church service at St. Peter’s Church?
k.) Who were the most recent occupants of “Dragonyard”?
l.)  Which Barfordian is known for her fluorescent yellow clothing?

09 May 2011

Best dressed wedding guest

My vote goes to ...

... Joss Stone!

She looked positively lovely, and fresh as a daisy in her two-piece ensemble by Coast!

Her gorgeous straw hat was an inspired choice that set the outfit off perfectly, along with her matching shoes and clutch bag, of course!

Loved her as Anne of Cleves on The Tudors, impressed by her fashion sense, I just may have to download some of her music off iTunes!

05 May 2011

Close to home

My thoughts today are with Our Wonderful Vicar who is presiding over the funeral of James Cooper, one of the two young Britons murdered in Florida.
James Cooper and his family are from Hampton Lucy, a tiny village in our six parish community. 
I have no doubt that Our Vicar will do a beautiful job; he has been quite diligent in seeking God’s wisdom and grace for what he should say.
Of course, addressing loss is always a challenging task, however, in extreme circumstances, such as this, it is all the more troubling.  
And, of course the media do not make this any easier. Our Vicar has been hounded by local and national media for details. I hope the families have been shielded from this onslaught.
As walked together from Morning Prayer, Our Vicar shared with me a remarkable Prayer that was added to the Book of Common Prayer in 1979 (I think), to address the loss caused by violent death.
This prayer – as I’m sure Our Vicar’s sermon will – addresses quite remarkably not only loss and grief, but touches on the incomprehension, the anger, doubt and disillusionment we can/do/may feel in these circumstances.  
Far from ‘airy-fairy’, this beautiful prayer validates the complex of emotions the grieving feel, but also provides a clear direction for moving forward.

After a violent death

God of love,
we thank you that N is in your gentle and loving hands,
far from the cruelty, violence and pain of our world.
When the trouble was near,
we could not understand how you seemed to remain far away.
And yet it is to you we turn;
for in life and death
it is you alone whom we can trust,
and yours alone is the love that holds us fast.
We find it hard to forgive the deed
that has brought us so much grief.
But we know that, if life is soured by bitterness,
an unforgiving spirit brings no peace.
Lord, save us and help us.
Strengthen in us the faith and hope that N
is freed from the past with all its hurt,
and rests for ever in the calm security of your love,
in Jesus Christ our Lord. 

The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England