I'm standing outside the soccer stadium before the Burnley match — New Year's Day 2011. In Yorkshire UK parlance, I'm stood outside the ground before the match with the Blades supporters. Blades = SUFC. To the uninitiated — Sheffield United Football Club. We are all Blades. And we have all come via coach with a full police escort, to dissuade rioting post-match if the team loses. (That's what they do in England - the team loses, you tear down the town.)
So here we are in Lancashire, coming over the Pennines all for the love of the Blades. They won't let us in the ground just yet. So there we are, stood on the street, as they'd say over there, waiting to invade.
Of all the things I love about England, I love that they still have police on horses. And they always have them outside the various football grounds on match day. Usually Irish draft horses — again, to keep the hooligans in check. Invariably as I'm petting the horses, someone will blurt out, "Lea's from America" and as I keep petting the horses the chorus of "I've been to Florida on holiday" will start. If it's not Florida, it's Vegas. Or New York. Never Connecticut. And I will think to myself, "I am never more American than when I am away from America. No one back home ever feels compelled to introduce me as 'Lea from America' or 'that American woman'."
Anyhow, I usually use it as an opportunity to learn something. The local police really are a wealth of information. And they are usually more than happy to share it with a visitor to their land.
So tell me, do the Royals ever come up here? I mean, you'd think they'd want to come up and see how their kingdom is faring.
Yes, I drove Prince Andrew 'round when he was up here last.
How was he? What was he like?
And I believe, if I remember correctly, that he said he had been very nice to him and that he had driven other Royals in the past (I can't remember which ones) who weren't so nice and didn't even speak to him the entire time they were with him. We ended our little chat with me saying that, yes, the Royals really should go around and see how all parts of the kingdom are doing. Don't even announce it. Just show up and look around. That sort of thing.
Fast forward. I believe it is last spring - or the spring before. Gov. Malloy is coming to Middletown. People can go and ask questions. I think they call it a "Town Hall Meeting" or some such. To be honest, I'm really not that interested. I am not into listening to people airing their grievances all night long. I'd much rather pick up the phone. And yes, if I felt compelled to tell the Governor something, I would manage to say it sans an audience. But anyhow, there I was. People lining up to ask their hard-hitting questions. Always seems like a big game of "gotcha" to me. But he seemed to take it in stride. I am sure the guy has done this all before. Many times.
And then I get an idea. I DO have a question. And there IS something I'd like to know. He had mentioned something about being the youngest sibling in his family. Something I could relate to. And all the birth order books I've ever read say that it's all about the first-borns and only children that will amount to anything in life. They're the achievers. Well, he hasn't done bad for himself, has he? Take that, every older sibling in CT.
So in the line I go. It's my turn. A little lady is standing to my left and holding me by the elbow. I ask about being the last-born in his family. I forget precisely how I worded it. He says something about watching his older brother and just letting him take the heat so he looked good by comparison. Excellent strategy in my mind's eye. He does us last-borns proud. Naysayers can say otherwise, but he is the top guy in CT. I then have another idea - why doesn't he come back to Middletown. We are known for our restaurants. We can go for a steamed cheeseburger. The little lady who is still holding me by the elbow is asking me if she can come too. I say of course. It'll all be lovely. In hindsight, I think they were just happy to have some happy talk amid all the righteous indignation. All the meetings they must have to attend must be exponentially boring and wouldn't it be so nice to visit part of your kingdom and see how we are faring.
Later that evening I am recounting to my Mother how I invited the Governor to come back to Middletown for a steamed cheeseburger. And how this little lady wanted to go as well.
Was she little with glasses?
Yes, and she seemed really excited about the idea.
Lea, that was the Lieutenant Governor.
Oh. Well, she said she wants to come too.
Yes, I am thinking of our Governor today and how lovely it will all be when he comes back to Middletown and sees how this part of the kingdom is faring. And, yes, the Lieutenant Govenor can come too.