Some thirty years ago, back in the midst of a rather hot Summer, I was quietly minding my own business traveling, innocently and obliviously, through Upstate New York; when by chance I happened, quite suddenly and peremptorily, to be married by an American woman. The precise date of this unexpected occurrence being July the fourth 1980.
It was, as I recall, an afternoon wedding, and of course a rather festive event; Indeed I distinctly remember standing, in full morning dress, at the top of a ladder at some point in the proceedings swaying slightly as I recited the passage from that delightfully English, pleasantly slim volume of not-quite-history '1066 and All That '---the passage that starts
"One day when George III was insane he noticed that Americans never had afternoon tea..." and concludes with the assertion that what followed
"...prevented America from having any more history". To my great surprise not only did her family and friends not lynch me, but they actually all laughed and then went on with their celebrations, and later in the evening to my even greater surprise, it seemed the whole of Greater Rochester did the same (well at least the celebrating---I obviously have no idea if they all laughed) with fireworks and indeed with the whole works.
As a well brought up Englishman I of course immediately wrote to the City Council: a long letter of thanks for their kindness, even including a little joke, one I thought rather appropriate---telling them how they made me feel like that apocryphal Hispanic gentleman at the baseball game who was so moved by the concern of his hosts for his enjoyment of the game when they all spontaneously burst out singing 'Jose can you see?'
This may not have been as appropriate a bit of levity as I'd hoped, because they completely ignored my letter and to this day have never replied.
However, they did continue to celebrate my wedding anniversary each and every year, so they couldn't have been that offended, and so that was all all right then.
But the most amazing thing was that, as we moved about New York from Rochester to Ithaca and then to Dryden and the like, the Rochester City Council evidently told all their friends in other local governing bodies about the State about us, because absolutely anywhere we happened to be on our July the Fourth anniversary they put on a special, wonderful, celebration: and apparently often at extremely short notice.
Even when I eventually moved out of the state, the celebrations still followed me---however, in the emptiness of time, all things eventually, and like some poor condemned man, do the entropy jig (even when it doesn't involve hemp), and that marriage was indeed, as a part of all things, not exempt.
I suspect the underlying cause was that she never did forgive me for that bit of humour from 1066 and All That, and so it was that by chance I happened, quite suddenly and peremptorily, to be unmarried again, and to the amazement of all concerned, it was by the very same woman.
Sadly the marriage had only lasted for a short twenty years and a mere five children, and now that it's over, and there's no need for you to continue, you can stop now---in fact I'd really, really be obliged if you would because now-a-days your, no doubt well-intentioned, celebration of that which is lost and gone does bring such painful memories to at least this unfortunate Englishman---though ...though ...you know ...now that I've actually said all that stuff about the wedding and the celebrations and July the fourth out loud---And to other people, it seems to be somewhat less that likely and I'm beginning to suspect that there may be some other reason for all your jubilation, so I really must stop now and go and ask someone what on earth it is...
Cheerio for now
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