All text and images © Tom Franklin
Whatever Boxing Day is...
See, in the US we don’t have “Boxing Day.” At least we don’t call it that.
Instead, the day after Christmas in the US is the free-for-all known as “The Day After Christmas Sales.” Whether you’re looking for next year’s Christmas wrapping paper, decorations, lights, etc., or deeply discounted deals on electronics that didn’t sell as expected or if you’re just looking for green storage containers, it’s a crack of dawn, lines stretching way, way, waaaaaaaaay away from the door annual event.
Boxing is a bit too civilized, what with the gloves, the ring, the stretchy ropes and a referee. Kickboxing might be a bit closer, but there’s still some sort of thin gloves and at least a token referee.
Think Back Alley Street Brawl. With Very Competitive Women. Very Competitive Women Who Have Had to Deal with Whiny, Unappreciative Children, Husbands and Visiting Family for Far Too Long.
Try “Bargain Hunter” Meets Rollerball. That kinda thing. We menfolk wisely avoid these events at all costs.
Well, this manfolk does, at least.
(And, yes, I see by the wikipedia article that there are also long lines in the UK for Boxing Day sales. Not to do too much of that stereotypical Yankee Loud Boasting, but I’ll still match our Day After Christmas Sales customers against your UK Boxing Day customers any year. Any year)
It seemed like just the place for a Boxing Day walk.
The only person out, however, was this gentleman. He had a very small audience of about three people and, to be honest, I didn’t really listen to what he was talking about. He tried to engage me in the conversation, but it was too cold and windy for us to want to stand still for long.
Thus stalled the Revolution.
One immediate difference I noticed between the UK and the US right away here: if this were the US the Speaker’s Corner Concession Stand would have a Corporate Sponsor and would sell lots and lots of Speaker’s Corner souvenirs, t-shirts, sweatshirts and jackets, all with a Free Speech theme. They’d even sell Official Speaker’s Corner Soapboxes to stand on to deliver your oration.
It’s probably best we keep some of our “culture” on this side of the pond, though.
We went Thisaway for a while, then decided that Thataway worked, too.
They all seemed to present nice subjects for my camera.
Bonn really liked this tree and wanted me to take a picture of it. Knowing no “standard” picture was going to do it justice -- it was far too ancient, tall and wide for my camera to give any real sense of how impressive it was -- so I decided to try this approach.
Personally, I like it.
(Okay, technically The Serpentine was man-made. I mean, back in 1730 when Queen Caroline (Caroline of Ansbach) ordered that the River Westbourne be dammed in Hyde Park to create the Serpentine, women were not doing that kind of manual labour. And even though the water is now supplied by the Thames it’s still a Woman Commanded, Man-Made lake)
And, yes, there will be a quiz before class is dismissed.
We Yanks had a strange relationship with the almost mythic character of Diana. As much as she was The People’s Princess, she was the one member of the Royal Family that intrigued this generation of Americans. Much like Grace Kelly, who went from obscurity to movie star to the Princess of Monaco in her generation, Diana Spencer went from obscurity straight to Princess in ours. It was obvious from the start that this kindergarten teacher didn’t fit in with the rest of the Royals and was going to be in for a bumpy ride.
Still, it was the fairy tale princess story come true. I knew people who took the day off from work the day she and Prince Charles were married just to watch the fairy tale play itself out on television.
She may have been your princess over in the UK but for some inexplicable reason we felt a kinship with her, too, over on this side of the pond.
Then, a few weeks later I heard that the Memorial had to be closed due to litter being dumped into the waterway, causing clogs in the drainage system.
So much for contemplation.
In person, I found the Memorial entirely underwhelming. That it was ‘closed’ didn’t help matters any. That it lacked sufficient signs designating the landmark made me feel like the Royal Parks would prefer for it to quietly fade into the background and just not draw so much troublesome attention to itself.
With my limited resources at our flat (no internet connection, dang it) I couldn’t find out exactly where the massive Crystal Palace had stood. And, sadly, there were no markers or monuments that I could see that noted where the building had been and where all the activity had taken place.
So, I contented myself with a picture of modern-day windows in the wall of a Victorian-era building. (Although I think the photograph would be stronger if I cropped it square and had the building more symmetrical)
And just how amazing was The Crystal Palace? Trust me, it was amazing.
(However, if you saw this picture and said, “Ooooohh!!! Harvey Nicks!!!” chances are you already knew that)
|Previously: Ring Out Christmas Bells|