They Like Their Pork and Beans Early

Published: Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 10:09 AM.


            I have wondered all my life why the British were noted for their “stiff upper lip”. It has been, since boyhood for me, a strange term. I figured it had to do with their bent for “pomp and ceremony”. Or possibly their disdain for the colonies around the world that had the audacity to rebel against them. Or maybe, it just underscores their stoic nature towards history, things not in the best interest of the realm and/or unseemly international events. The thought crossed my mind that it could have something to do with the French residing so uncomfortably close……

            I decided to go over there and find out. It was, as it turned out, none of the above. We visited England in April: the beginning of spring. The leaves should be busting forth, the birds awakening, the sun drenching St. Paul’s Cathedral, Windsor Castle and the white cliffs of Dover. Folks, there is no spring in the British Isles! It was colder than the bottom side of a gold digger’s mining pan on Christmas day in Alaska! It was so cold those famous milk cows from Jersey were delivering ice cream right on the spot. 

            All those upper lips “over there” are stiff because they are frozen in place!

            My feet didn’t thaw out for two weeks. “Bobbies” guarding the streets thought my toboggan was surgically attached to my noggin. I ate poached eggs and pork and beans for breakfast with my gloves on! I crawled out on the exposed top of the famed double decked sightseeing bus one time. My eye balls immediately froze over and I missed six cathedrals, Piccadilly Circus, Sherlock Holmes’ place and Madame Tussauds’ Wax Museum. 

            I finally understood Roger Miller’s song, “Westminster Abby, the Tower of Big Ben, the rosy red cheeks of the little children……” Let me tell you, it’s a thin line between “rosy red” and “frostbite”!

            The day we visited the famed Tower of London it was snowing. The Beefeater dressed guide was discussing the beheading of Anne Boleyn. I figured that was one way to escape the cold! That same guide, noting the number of Americans in the group, had some rather disdainful remarks aimed at humor about how we viewed our position in the world. I had to bite my tongue to keep from reminding him in 1940 his King George VI and wife Elizabeth were in Hyde Park, New York, bowing before our president and begging for help against the rampaging Nazis. Nobody in England was making fun of the United States soldiers crowding their streets in 1944!

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