A very English affair

“So,” said our new friend Julio in his fabulous Spanish accent. “Would you say I was English?” Noel and I looked at each other, then at Julio, all 6ft 2 of him in his well-tailored suit, classy tie, olive skin, dark wavy hair and sparkle in his eye. He stood up, looked at fellow guests, shrugged his shoulders and headed for the bar moving like no Englishman ever born.

Julio and his partner Cova had made the trip from Asturias, Northern Spain, to Elland, Yorkshire, to witness the very English affair of a wedding and, by sheer coincidence, see the preparations for and celebrations of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Our mutual friends Liz and John had returned from Spain where they now live, to Arctic-blasted England for their wedding. In our eyes John, who’s been over there for more than five years, had transformed into a Spaniard. We suggested this to Julio, he laughed a very Spanish laugh, subtle, classy, warm. No, he said, John was definitely inglés. “But me, I look English, no?”. No, Julio, not even a little bit, not at all.

We discussed how he could make himself more like us. He could slouch a little more, we suggested, join the nearest queue, any queue, talk about the weather, though never at any stage accepting that the temperature was just right. He could grumble, though he’d have to make sure he didn’t do it too loudly, or if he did, he’d have to apologise profusely. And he’d definitely have to tone down the smartness a bit, scuff his shoes, leave a button undone here and there. But even so, no English man or woman would ever mistake him for a fellow countryman. I’m sure he and John will be swapping notes.

While for us the highlight of the extended holiday weekend was our friends’ wedding and meeting friends and friends of friends, it would be churlish not to mention the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It was a wonderful spectacle celebrated in style all over the world, though mostly here at home because she is our Queen after all.

The weather went from cold and dry to cold and wet, then cold and very wet. I’d planned to take photos of the brass band playing in our local park on Sunday, but the torrential rain drove everyone away. The soggy bunting strung around the park looked very sad indeed. Fortunately the sky ran out of rain yesterday and everyone came out to play. The party in the park was a very fine and very English affair indeed.

Celebrating the Jubilee in Calverley’s Victoria Park

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