LONDON — This is for the haters.
Around London, the finish line’s in sight but still so far away. The Wall of Steel security fence that surrounds everything important is expanding; last Tuesday it was just at Westminster Abbey, by the weekend it had reached Trafalgar Square, crawling along, creeping in the night. The weather is hot. Heat advisory-worthy, unseasonably hot. The weathermen are relentlessly positive, but sometimes it looks like they are about to crack. (It should get back to normal by the wedding. Shouldn’t it? Heheheheheh.)
Lethargy. Exhaustion. Manifested not only by the rapidly shrinking body of Kate Middleton, but by everyone, almost, as if wedding anticipation peaked too soon but people have to keep up appearances because that is what they do in Britain.
“YOU MUST BE SO EXCITED,” cabdrivers say to foreigners.
Over in the States, one assumes that over in London, elation must have reached epic proportions. That the whole city would be good and jazzed. Some of the city is. But some of the city — and this is what you cannot say on television because it will ruin thebiggestweddingofthecentury — feels like . . .
“I just don’t care about the wedding,” says Buddy Webb, who works as an orderly in a hospital. “I just really could not care less.”
“Wedding Countdown Starts Here!!” Hello magazine advertises.
Wrong. The wedding countdown started 70 million years ago. There has never been a time when we were not talking about the wedding: Who is coming (Madonna’s ex). Who is not coming (Madonna). Which car will carry Kate to the Abbey and when.
“Apparently, at 10:51, she’ll be leaving for the church,” Samantha Sylvester, a medical student, tells her friends while picnicking in Green Park. She pauses and looks horrified. “God, why do I know this?”
Osmosis. Absorption. Subliminal messaging. Somehow, despite the fact that Sylvester does not buy tabloids or watch television, details about the wedding have hunted her down, as they have hunted everyone else in this country. Inceptioned her like nobody’s business. Leonardo DiCaprio revealed Kate Middleton’s travel route to Sylvester in a dreamscape three levels down.
She is not even planning to watch the wedding.
“But you can’t avoid it,” says Jerzy Weirzbowski, an event planner. “That’s the thing. You go down for breakfast, and you just know it’s going to be there in the paper. William’s face. My [Polish] aunt keeps asking me to send her a plate. She already has a royal plate. How many does she need?”
He did not mind it at first. The general consensus is that, except for the ardent anti-royalists, nobody really minds Prince William or the concept of his nuptials. At first, wedding news was even a nice break from Libya or Egypt.
Then the wedding ate the world. Now Weirzbowski wants a break from the break. He is just so tired.
The onslaught continues. The pundits are only just arriving. All the morning shows, and evening shows, and in-between shows who will make sure that no detail is overlooked, even the ones you really wish they wouldn’t tell you. Feel free to overlook this detail! you want to say, but no. They have already readied their Team of People With British Accents to comment, and comment they shall. Every famous person who has ever clipped an “r” is booked for the wedding. This includes Sharon Osbourne, Hugh Jackman (Australian, close enough), Cat Deeley and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
“Get out,” says Sophie Tanza-Quinn.
An American has just informed Tanza-Quinn — celebrating a friend’s birthday near Piccadilly Circus — that she traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to watch the royal wedding. “No really, get out, now, while you still can,” Tanza-Quinn says. “Run, Forrest, run.”
“I’m so tired of ‘Oooh, what’s Kate wearing? Oooh, Kate’s so pretty,’ ” says Dannielle Henderson, the birthday girl. “I guess she’s pretty.”
(Is she pretty? Earlier this week she was spotted out in London shopping and looked skinny. Is she too skinny? Entertainment Tonight polls celebrities at a fundraiser who look at pictures and decide she is just skinny enough.)
“And the Diana comparisons,” Henderson continues. She cannot stand the Diana comparisons. “There’s no comparison! She’s a completely different person! He’s not marrying his mother. If he were, that would be weird.”
For a moment, let’s just go there. Purge. Say every nasty thought that has crossed your mind.
William and Kate are just people, and William didn’t even do anything to get famous, he was born that way, and do you have any idea how much this wedding is costing the taxpayers, and shouldn’t the money be spent on better things, and doesn’t anybody realize there are wars going on?
Thirty years ago when Diana got married, royal weddings and all they entailed — the 25-foot train, the horse-drawn carriages — were reserved for royals. But now that every bride on TheKnot.com expects no less, is there still a need to watch the real thing? Just look how excited we all got about Diana, and look how that marriage turned out. Fool me once, royals . . .
It actually makes sense that some Americans embrace the wedding more readily than some Britons. For Americans, the concept of the royal family exists on an abstract plane, bordering between endearing antiquity and fairy tale, as if Kate Middleton could sit down for tea with Cinderella and Rapunzel.
Britons deal with the reality of royalty, and all the complicated questions that surround it — whether the family is a cost or benefit, whether the practice represents worthwhile tradition or moldiness.
Weddings are always stressful for the participants, and in this case the entire country is a participant. Tensions might be the slightest bit high.
“You [Americans] had your whole revolution to get rid of them!” bellows Michael Urwin, who owns a pub in central London. “And now you want them! Take them! Just take them!”
“Every time you look around there’s a new mug, or a tea towel, or they’re talking about upgrading the telly to HD just so you can watch it,” says Urwin’s friend Paul Kerney. “Why don’t they upgrade for something I actually care about? Something I actually care the least bit about?”
Urwin and Kerney have decided to throw a party at Urwin’s pub, Buffalo Bar, on Friday. It’s called “[Expletive] the Royal Wedding,” and will feature performances by a band formed just for the occasion, which has named itself “[Expletive] Off, [Idiomatic British Expletive] Off.”
The band has a special anti-wedding set list prepared, ending with the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen.”
“It’s going to be,” Urwin predicts, “our biggest night of the year.”