They Like Their Pork and Beans Early

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

            The Crown Jewels are housed in the Tower of London. I couldn’t tell if they were real or not. Some of that zirconia stuff can fool the untrained eye……They had swords in there older than Denmark. There were enough ruby laced crowns and scepters to outfit Lord Wellington’s army. The Beefeater guy wouldn’t let me try on King Richard’s armor or any of the rings. 

I ambled outside to see if winter had ended. I got to telling the unblinking and ramrod straight soldier with the high black hat and perfectly creased uniform guarding the building about growing up in West Tennessee. He didn’t crack a smile or even glance in my direction…..until I told him about the Halloween Leon pulled the sheet up over his head and thundered through town on the big horse yelling, “The British aren’t coming!”

            I saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. It took an hour and a half! And they didn’t have but two guards! And remember, it’s bitterly cold. It took two bands, eighty-five red and black clad soldiers and more high-stepping back and forth than Washington and Cornwallis both did at Yorktown to get four guys to swap places. I kept thinking the United States Marines could have accomplished the switch in eight seconds……and the queen would have been much safer. Of course, I reckon those guys are doing a good job. I haven’t heard of any force, foreign or domestic, ever storming Buckingham Palace.

            We visited Westminster Abby on Thursday. You couldn’t believe the vast number of people milling about. I asked the Baptist (he was taking up the money before you went inside) ticket guy, “Ya’ll having a revival?”

            It was a spectacular place. As was the near-by Parliament Building. Big Ben had the correct time. And the Thames River crept through, and around the ancient buildings much like the Weekly Reader depicted back in Mrs. Paschall’s eighth grade history class. I am not a “city guy” but London was impressive. Just the history alone makes it a special place. And, after a few “howdies”, “ya’lls” and “you’ins always in such a hurry”, the upper lips softened a bit. 

            They liked the stories about Leon and growing up in a small town “back home”. When you got through the façade of who we were all supposed to be and just sat down and talked a few minutes, they were most friendly, kind and “jolly good”! And when I found out that the tradition of pork and beans for breakfast stemmed from the shortage of meat during World War II, I figured they had paid a price to be here, too.

            I’ve just thawed out enough to type this little blurb. I’m still practicing raising my upper lip, and holding it. And the Tower of London guard is coming to America to meet Leon in August……I can’t wait to see how long it takes him to melt.

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