Going to run tomorrow, regardless of the weather – I promise! But today, after just about 4 hours of sleep, the cold house and freezing cold, rainy, gray weather outside (on July 2, mind you, in the southern part of England) was enough to convince me to lie on the couch as much as possible 🙂 [Note: Not complaining about the weather – considering the Colorado wildfires and the huge East Coast storms and all sorts of other terrible weather things going on – just chronicling it!) Stephanie, our once-a-week mother’s helper, was scheduled for today, so I knew I only had to make it til 10am when she got here, and then I could relax (Greer got me up at 6:52am this morning, after I had awoken at 5:30am and probably didn’t fall asleep til around 2:30am — the joys of pregnancy!). So that’s what I’m doing – relaxing 🙂 John left for Normandy this morning, so Stephanie is also coming 8-11am Tuesday and Wednesday morning before her other nanny job just to help me out to keep me from going into labor before he gets back! So I will run tomorrow morning we she is here. She just went to the store for me (and took the baby with her) to get a replacement electric kettle because I just broke ours last night, and it is the source of all my yummy iced tea that I drink all day, every day. She also picked up a few groceries and a decaf frappucino to get me through to naptime today when I will be sleeping for sure!!
So my musical account today is about the Purple Ball which I mentioned we went to over the weekend.
What struck me the most about the evening was the super-cheesy music that was played most of the night. And it was FUN music. It was so completely British in a way that I will try to describe. I mean, there was a crowd sing-along at the end of the Royal Ascot races, and seeing Mamma Mia! in London means spending the last 20 minutes standing and swaying with the singing crowds of Abba lovers. I know people tend to think of Americans as being more open and outgoing than the British – but when it comes to singing, out loud, and around other people – the British have us beat, hands down. I went on that pipe band trip to Nice a while back, and we spent about 3 hours (they stayed down there for a few more but I went up to bed) singing, in the common room of the hostel, bothering all the young folks who were trying to get their drink on in the adjoining bar or were trying to quietly converse in the tv room. One song after another – old Irish and Scottish tunes, patriotic songs, bawdy songs (ummm they also have bad hand motions to “Swing low, Sweet Chariot” that I could have lived my whole life without seeing performed by my fellow band members). They even coerced me and the Scot who had lived in the US for a while into singing the American National Anthem. At our band Christmas party two brothers who are drummers and probably in their 40s or 50s got up and did a silly singing skit, complete with props and the words they passed out so the rest of us could participate in the singing and sound effects when required. It’s just a lost art in America, I observe, the art of making a fool of yourself in public without the necessity of alcohol, through song and dance. My extended family always breaks out into show tunes when assembled, but I find this to be rare. Think: Benny Hill – you know, British humor is just a bit different! Here at Christmastime they have “pantomimes” – shows which have traditional characteristics: the baddie, the person dressed up as an animal, the goodie, people cross dressing, signs for audience participation (or they coach you ahead of time) when you’re supposed to boo the baddie or cheer the goodie, etc. Lots of singing and dancing, and produced for children and adults. The children’s cartoons are even strange to me, full of adults being foolish for an audience of children (I know there are a few of those shows in America, but there are many more here.)
Here’s the crowd enjoying a band:
So anyway, at the Purple Ball, they had two huge buffet lines, several bars going all night, wandering appetizers – and no formal sit-down meal, even though tickets were 75 pounds apiece. And let me tell you, this worked well because people could start having fun – ie dancing, and singing their little hearts out to the tunes familiar to us in the US about….10-60 years ago! You know – “I get knocked down, but I get up again…” right after “Come on baby, do the twist”, all sung by the same band. They had 3 or 4 bands on throughout the night to mix it up, and the dance floor was almost never empty. At all of our formal military events in the states there is a “program” starting with cocktails, then the sitdown meal, a speaker or two, formal and informal toasts given, and then dessert and dancing. Usually we leave around when the dancing starts because a lot of the people are drunk by then and it’s usually around 11pm and we need to take off to get back to the babysitter. This event, though, was just fun all evening – and was called “Purple” because that is the British military term for “joint” (ie: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, all together at a function) and the theme was the “QEII” – the cruise ship “Queen Elizabeth II”, in honor of her diamond jubilee.
The central ballroom was made to look like the place on the ship where you board and have the nice sweeping grand staircase up to the rest of the party.
This then led to some creative entertainment throughout the night – it started with a four piece jazz/ragtime band playing while we were coming across the gangplank, putting you in mind of the Titanic.
Then we transitioned into modern cruiseliner – Vegas showgirl type dancers. Some of their costumes were a bit….showy. We were pretty sure you’d never see anything like this at an official American military function without reading about it in all the newspapers the next day (yes, they were wearing thongs. covered in some scanty fringe.)
As part of the cruise theme, they had a “spa” which opened at 10pm where I got a foot massage 🙂
There was also a casino with play money, and, get this, a shisha tent. Yes, people sitting around smoking some kind of weird tobacco out of what we would consider drug paraphernalia in the states, having their hot coals replenished while they comfortably reclined and relaxed. I mean, wow. Just wow. Any of you military spouses/active duty reading this — can you imagine this taking place at your next Navy Ball???
They also had an “Irish Bar” set up serving Guinness on tap, some performers from the official Military Wives choir that is so famous over here, and bumper cars in a pavilion outside. For real.
There were other outdoor games – giant Jenga, giant chess, etc – but it was drizzling all night, so we didn’t really venture outside. The program for the evening ended at….4am with breakfast being served!! There was a Hog Roast and a Lamb Roast – and they started at 11pm. We left shortly before midnight, and I can’t imagine having stayed there all night long!! I guess it would have been superfun with friends and not 38 weeks pregnant (a lot of people invited friends and family instead of just attending themselves.) We had a great time, though, even though we left early 🙂 Now I think I’ll go take my nap 🙂