People back home ask you all kinds of crazy things when they find out that you live outside of the US. "You live in England? I just love London; I really want to visit one day."

It's very similar to the response I get when I tell people that I grew up in Georgia - "Really? I just love Atlanta!" I grew up four hours away from Atlanta - yes, that's still Georgia - and I do not currently live near London. I will accept that the concept of "near" is a little different on the Iceberg, since it is much smaller than the US, but even by US standards, I don't live "near" London or any other major UK tourist attraction. There is an England outside of London and there is a Georgia outside of Atlanta. I'm grateful on both counts.



After the geography lesson usually comes, "Have you met the Royal Family?" Well of course I have! Every time an American moves to the UK, the Queen hosts a get-to-know-you afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace! She just loves to see how her little rebel children are getting on. British sarcasm has rubbed off on me but my American interrogators never seem to appreciate it very much.



Obviously, Her Majesty has better things to do than entertain roughians (i.e. Americans), so I stalk her and her family just like everyone else. I've been to Buckingham Palace and to Windsor Castle. I've elbowed my way to the front of the crowd to see a glimpse of her and her extended brood as they march in or out of buildings, up and down avenues. I've willed them to look my way after finally getting my camera open on my phone. And I've adopted the British mentality of graciously accepting a state holiday every time one of them does something remotely normal - like celebrate a birthday or get married. I'm pretty sure the only reason the British public still accepts the monarchy is for those surprise days off work which turn into complete daytime piss-ups. Let them drink warm beer, indeed.



First of all, a piss-up is an alcohol-fuelled gathering of otherwise upstanding British people, who end up very pissed (drunk) by the end of it. In my experience, they tend to happen in the day - either on national holidays or on those rare weekends when the sun comes out. But it could be that I am only privy to the daytime parties because I'm old - I assume that a piss-up may happen at any time. The only thing that Brits like more than a piss-up is a fancy dress piss-up - that's a piss-up with a costume as acceptable attire. I experienced my first perfect storm of a royally proclaimed national holiday and fancy dress piss-up in April 2011, when Prince William married Kate Middleton. My husband and I were invited to a local village celebration and I'm sure that my liver still bears the scar. Yes, that's a pinata in the photo below, made by the local Girl Guides troop. The Brits will accept any party activity from any country!



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