Jun 072012
 

I am in the process of renewing my permanent residency in the United States. Many people have asked me why I did not opt for US citizenship instead. I told them I was not interested and events in London celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee explain why.

When I watched on Tuesday morning CNN’s coverage of the carriage procession through London, the scenes that played out on my TV screen brought a lump to my throat. The Queen with Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in the 1902 State Landau, escorted by the Household Cavalry – Blues and Royals to the front, Life Guards to the rear — was a sight uniquely British and filled me with pride.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRP868WoefM]

The balcony scene at Buckingham Palace, with the RAF flypast, the Feu de Joie by The Guards and the three cheers for Her Majesty sent shivers down my spine. Why? Because I am British and proud to be so.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7IkYjgH_ew&feature=related]

At the end of the Diamond Jubilee concert, ABC broadcast the highlights on Tuesday evening, Prince Charles expressed the sentiments of the nation. He said that the Queen had made us proud to be British and I totally agree.

The crowning glory to the concert was one of the best renditions of God Save The Queen I have ever witnessed, even if few people knew the words of the second verse, followed by a truly spectacular firework display. The fireworks were accompanied by extracts from Handel’s Coronation Anthem — Zadok The Priest; Holst’s Jupiter/I Vow To Thee My Country; Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1, more popularly known as Land of Hope And Glory; and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. The Holst and Elgar pieces, capturing the essence of Britain and what it means to be British, stirred my soul and tugged at my heart strings.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGDujdUQNVg]

From these distant shores, it is easy to see that monarchy is the glue that holds the nation together. The Queen has provided constancy throughout my lifetime. I was born a few days after the Queen’s Coronation on June 2, 1953. While Presidents of the United States and British Prime Ministers have come and gone, the Queen has remained in place as head of state, aloof from the mire of politics.

In some ways the Queen is the granny to the nation, while the Prime Minister is the parent. And when the parent does things that the nation dislikes, granny is always there to offer comfort and solace. She never passes judgement on the policies and actions of political leaders or tries to undermine their authority. She simply helps to make the nation feel good about itself.

To become a US citizen, I would have to swear an oath of allegiance to the American flag. I simply could not bring myself to turn my back on Britain’s pomp and circumstance; propriety and decorum. In swearing such an oath, I would be betraying my heritage, my loyalty to Britain and all she stands for. No thanks.

As Ronald Searle, the creator of the St Trinian’s cartoons, once said:

You can’t simply put on a nationality like a jacket. I remain extremely English whatever happens.

And the same goes for me. I will stick with my permanent resident status and continue to come under the auspices of Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State.

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Aug 102011
 

It is hot once again in Jacksonville today. For the past couple of weeks the temperature as hovered between 93 degrees F and 96 degrees F. I was rebuked by an English friend for still talking in terms of Fahrenheit rather than the Celsius or Centigrade that has been adopted by Britain as part of its integration with the European Union.

America of course will have no truck with what the rest of the world does. It has to be different, often to the point of being contrary.

But for Europeans, the temperature has been between 33.8 degrees C and 35.5 degrees C for the past couple of weeks. Tomorrow it was supposed to hit 99 degrees F (37.2 degrees C) but the forecast has since been revised to 97 degrees F ( 36.1 degrees C).

When I lived in Texas and the temperature this time of year was at least 104 degrees F (40 degrees C) or higher, people used to ask me about the heat. I said that coming from Britain I was not going to complain. The heat in Texas was a dry heat and I could cope with it better. In Jacksonville it is the heat combined with the humidity that is the killer. It gets to the point where you don’t really want to step outside and consequently my photographic output has suffered of late.

The weather is really suited for lounging around in the sun, hence this image of sunloungers.

Ricoh GRD III. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

And another one just for good measure.

Ricoh GRD III. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

And after a session in the Florida sun, you need some of this to cool off.

Ricoh GRD III. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

All these images used the high contrast B&W scenic mode on the GRD III and were taken at the Marriott World Center Resort, Orlando, Florida. I did a little bit of post-processing Photoshop CS3, essentially a bit of dodging and burning.

What does strike me in all this heat is that the tarmac on roads in both Florida and Texas does not melt. In Britain when temperatures rose above 80 degrees F (26 degrees C) the tar would melt. I remember as a kid using lolly sticks to dip into the liquid tar at the side of the road and write my initials on the kerbstone (curbstone for US readers). Such were the simple pleasures of my childhood in the late 1950s and early 1960s. But woe betide you if you brought tar into the house on your shoes. or got it on your clothes.

If anyone with a civil engineering background can explain why tar melts in Britain and doesn’t seem to melt in Texas and Florida, please let me know.

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