'When they talk about the weather,' my musician brother, (who tours with British bands) told me with authority, when I was moving here with my English husband, 'you know they're talking about so much more than that. They are telling you how they feel.' For a nation that is known for not exactly wearing their heart on their sleeves ('the problem with you, my future husband once said, is you are too much in touch with your feelings'), when the English talk about the weather, they are very much in touch with their feelings. For a small island surrounded by a cold sea, the changing mood of the weather has enormous emotional power.
And yesterday, bearing witness with my husband by the Thames in Chelsea, a short walk from home, right at the start, The Albert Bridge, the beautiful and sacred bridge we call 'my father's bridge,' watching the crowd blatantly throwing two fingers up to the skies, jubilent, I felt that this event, this Diamond Jubilee flotilla, three years in the planning, could not have been more magnificent on a blindingly sunny day. On a perfect day. This weather, this brutal wintry day in June, could not have been more perfect. As a photographer, I know that colour looks brighter against a grey sky. And the hope - the glory - that flowed through this day.. I cannot put into words. I think we were all feeling that if the Queen, an 86 year old grandmother, can stand in the rain on a boat on the Thames all this time, who are we mere mortals to complain. We all pulled up our socks, kept calm, and carried on.
Someone posted this wonderful video right after it aired on the BBC, and this is for you, Mom: because you remind me of the Queen - a bit younger, but still - and for my Dad: I wish you were here. You'd have loved it. If you can get past the broken bits in the beginning, it's worth seeing. And I'll share more posts with you over the next days: I simply couldn't choose my favourites in one post.
There's a saying I love: if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. This one day was planned three years in advance, and I applaud the organisers, for it went off without incident, as they say. And yet it was a tremendous incident indeed. I was watching the creator, whose vision it was (and I wish I knew his name!) talking with someone at the BBC at the National gallery, looking at the painting of the Caneletto that inspired this day. And yet for all the planning, the one thing they could not control were the skies. At the finale, as the fireworks went off on the Tower Bridge, the heavens opened. And as the men and women sang Land of Hope and Glory, on a boat in the pouring rain, it could not have been more perfect.
It's funny: I woke up yesterday, the day of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, grey skies and rain and yet, in the windowsill, our first morning glory had bloomed.