Showing posts with label Princess Diana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Princess Diana. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Remembering Princess Diana

(First published in 2014)

Other than family members, there are three people whose deaths affected me so much I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news.

Many, many people can relate to that when it comes to the assassination of President Kennedy.  I remember I was sitting in class when the principal came on the PA system and said, "Our President has been shot."  I thought he meant our high school class president.  That's how far out of the realm of possibility I thought it could be that he was talking about the President of the United States.

Another death that affected me profoundly was the death of John Lennon.  I was lying in bed with my newborn son watching TV when the announcement was made.  It was shattering. The Beatles had a profound effect on my youth and our culture.  How could one of the Beatles possibly be dead?

And finally, I was in bed watching TV when I heard about Diana too.  I let out a scream.

Last Sunday, August 31st, marked the seventeenth anniversary of Princess Diana's death in a car accident.  She was killed in Paris in a speeding car driven by a drunken minion of Mohamed Al-Fayed, the owner of Harrod's and The Ritz Hotel in Paris and father of Dodi, who Diana was dating. She was only 36.  Supposedly the driver was speeding to avoid the paparazzi following them.

I still think of her.  She too had a profound effect on my life and her death was wrenching.

I have always been fascinated by the British Royal Family. I am a huge Anglophile.  I think I got it from my mother. 

I was born in 1948, the same year as Prince Charles so I think that was the fascination for my mother. She probably thought her little daughter could grow up to marry a prince. She was a bit of an Anglophile and had some cups with baby Prince Charles on them and other Royal collectibles. And when Princess Elizabeth became Queen at only 26, her coronation in 1953 was the first ever televised.  The whole world was watching.

No matter what you think of the British Royal Family, Queen Elizabeth has taken her vows very seriously and reigned earnestly for over 60 years. Many heads of state have come and gone, but Queen Elizabeth endures.

While poking around in my parents' closet (I was a nosy kid), I found a book called "The Little Princesses," all about Elizabeth and her sister, Princess Margaret, which started me down that road of "Royal Watching."

So of course I was terribly interested in who Prince Charles would marry.  But when Diana came along, my interest peaked.

Diana Spencer was 19, pretty and virginal and more Royal than the Queen. Diana's lineage went back to the 14th century and English King Edward III.  She was British through and through, whereas Queen Elizabeth's roots are German. Diana was perfect. And you can tell from the start she was besotted with Charles. 

However, the red flags were there early.  When their engagement was announced, at the end of this interview, the interviewer asked, "And you are in love?" to which Diana emphatically replied, "Course!" and to which Charles added, "Whatever 'in love' means."  Oops.  Clouds ahead.

But the wedding was fabulous.  I stayed up all night to watch it as did most of the world.

Everyone was mad about Shy Di, and when she produced "an heir and a spare," we were over the moon.  None of us knew that Charles was really in love with someone else and Diana had "issues."  But as a 19-year-old virgin, Diana was a lamb to the slaughter.

The cracks in the marriage and subsequent affairs on both sides were hidden for a time, but finally came out in 1992 in the book "Diana, Her True Story," written by journalist Andrew Morton but supposedly fed to Morton by Diana herself.

And when she was interviewed in 1995 by Martin Bashir for BBC's Panorama TV show, that was the final straw and the Queen made it clear that Charles and Diana needed to divorce.

After the divorce, Diana was forced to give up her Royal title, meaning that she would no longer be addressed as HRH.  Little Prince William poignantly said to her, "Don't worry, Mummy, I will give it back to you one day when I am King."  (sniff).

But she thrived in her 30's, raising her sons, falling in love and giving her life to many causes such as AIDS research and the eradication of land mines in Angola.  She was truly "The People's Princess."  I loved watching her life unfold.  And I have to confess I loved her clothes.

When she died, I stayed up all night again, this time to bid farewell.  I cried all night long as I watched her funeral procession with her sons following the casket

with Harry's card that said "Mummy" on top of it,

and at the end the hearse carrying her coffin to its final resting place - her childhood home.  I am sad again remembering this.

It is difficult to explain what Diana meant to me. 

I suppose it sounds silly to many who can't comprehend having feelings for someone they never met.  But to me, she represented youth, beauty, fairy tales, Princesses, motherhood, compassion.  Her compassion validated people. She famously held the hands of AIDS and leprosy patients when others feared doing so. Her soul touched the souls of others.  The love for her sons was palpable.  It was easy to think that she would have been a good friend. Hers was a story that you wanted to have a happy ending.  You rooted for her. And when she died before she could fulfill her promise or even find lasting happiness, it was a huge sadness.  She would be 53 now had she lived. 

All I can say is that I loved being in a world that she was in and when she died in such a terrible way, a little piece of me died with her.

I am probably not explaining myself very well.  It's difficult to explain what goes on in one's heart, but I wanted to write this today because I want her to be remembered.  She had a special light.  Her soul spoke to my soul.

I think Prince William and Prince Harry have that light too, and I am enjoying watching their lives unfold.  They appear to have avoided the pomp and stuffiness of the Royals that so stifled Diana.  So she lives on through them.

I have stood over and looked down onto the Alma Tunnel in Paris, where Diana died, and paid tribute at the memorial to Diana that is there.

I have visited Kensington Palace where she lived and seen the memorial fountain in Hyde Park. I have countless collectibles featuring her, and naturally, I have the Princess Diana doll with all of her clothes, including the wedding dress.  Even though she died tragically, I enjoy remembering her.

Now I just need a granddaughter so we both can play with the doll and remember Diana together.

I wonder if there will be a Princess Kate doll!

Thanks for Reading!
See you Friday for
"The Life Story of Mildred Pierce (the dog, not the movie character)
The Week in Reviews

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

25 Things You Don't Know About Me

You already know I am addicted to TV.  In addition to my addiction to TV, I also have an addiction to magazines. 

It's part of my morning ritual while drinking my tea.  I read everything from "Allure" to "US Weekly" to "Vanity Fair." 

(By the way, your local library may subscribe to Zinio, a great source for all of your favorite magazines to read online or download to your mobile device all for free!  So check out your local library's web page to see if they are providing this service.  That's my library plug for today).

Anyway, I digress. 

Speaking of "US Weekly," in addition to that all important celebrity gossip, it also has a feature called "25 Things You Don't Know About Me," where celebs list...guess?  Things we don't know about them.  It's a fun little diversion.  For example, it was enlightening to discover that Cher has an elephant collection  (and you know how I feel about Cher)!

So in the interest of enlightenment, I thought my readers who think they know me would like to know what they don't know about me and those of you who don't know me can get to know me by finding out what you already don't know.  Make sense?

So let's get started...

1.  I have never seen an episode of "Friends."
I must be the only person on the planet but it's true. That must be why I am not a big Jennifer Aniston fan.  I just don't get her appeal.

2.  I have never broken any bone in my body.
News alert...I just took a break, went downstairs and stubbed my toe.  I think it's broken.  If it doubles in size and turns black is it broken?

3.  I didn't learn to ride a two-wheel bicycle until I was 12.
Despite my Dad buying me a lovely two-wheeler, I just couldn't get the hang of riding it much to his consternation.  My friends were all riding around on their two wheelers while I was trying to keep up on my tricycle.  An 11-year-old on a tricycle is not a pretty sight.  Must have been why my sister called me a "motor moron."  It upset me so much that I would have dreams that somehow I would wake up and could magically ride.  But it wasn't until I was visiting my friend Barbie that I was able to master it.  She had a little mini two-wheeler and I got up on it and off I went.  Must have been because it was closer to the ground.  And I was 12, for god's sake.

4.  I have no idea what my real hair color is.
I think it was red once.

5.  I starred in a play directed by Karl Malden.
He came to my college my senior year, and since I was the reigning diva, I starred in his pastiche of Broadway memories.  He would reminisce about shows he was in or were on Broadway in his heyday, and then we would perform scenes from those shows. 

I starred in "Tea and Sympathy."  It involved an older woman seducing a young man in the interest of proving to him that he wasn't a sissy, something he was teased about because he didn't partake in more "masculine" pursuits. Not sure how this would hold up today, but I loved the last line of the play, where I got to say while unbuttoning my sweater, "Years from now, when you talk about this, and you will, be kind."  What a line!

I think I blew it with Mr. Malden when I asked him what Marlon Brando was really like.  I thought it was funny and charming.  He didn't.  He was rather a cranky sort and his nose...seeing it up close, it was a thing to behold.

6.  I have three tattoos.
I guess the most interesting part of this is that I got my first tattoo when I was in my 20's, which you might expect (it was the 70's after all), but the other two in my 60's (and I don't mean the 1960's), which is not so expected.  The tattoo parlor for the first one was the renowned Lyle Tuttle studio in San Francisco, and it was over the Greyhound station.  I loved that.  So seedy.  I used to brag I was probably the only person who wasn't drunk when I got my tattoo. That first one was a rose in my décolletage (not shown here) and my last and most recent one: two hearts with wings on my forearm.  This was a mother-daughter bonding experience as we both got tattoos together.  I recommend it!

Each heart has an "A" in it, one for each of my children, whose names begin with "A," and the wings symbolize my giving them the wings to fly successfully away. 

And boy did they! 

It was fun while it lasted!

The third is a depiction of "The  Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings" on my back.  Sort of a family joke.  I guess I must say "I wish" a lot or "if only." My daughter calls me "Bun Bun." That tattoo was a family affair - hubby's first, daughter's (who knows)?  And my second, after 30+ years

7.  I can read music.
And play the piano, though not very well.  But that's on my get back into playing and improving my skills.  And I can type 80+ words per minute so I guess I must not be that much of a motor moron.

8.  I always wanted to play Sheila in "Hair," so I could sing "Easy to be Hard."
I guess I am too old now, though a geriatric version might be fun.  Just imagine the end of Act I when all of the Baby Boomers take off their clothes!

9.  I am not allergic to anything.
And I don't pretend to be allergic to things that I just don't like, as some people do, and they know who they are!

10.  I cured myself of panic attacks.
I really suffered from terrible panic attacks. 
I remember exactly where I was when I had the first one. 

And then, of course, when you have one, you are then encumbered with the fear that you will have another one.  I could barely stand in line at a supermarket without thinking I was going to die or do something to humiliate myself.  So I did some research and found this book and it was a miracle!  I am certainly not denigrating the severity of panic attacks and agoraphobia and people who suffer from them, but I think when you do some exercises that help you build up resistance to the physical sensations and are able to ask yourself, "What's the worse thing that could happen right now?" and realize it's not likely that you are going to die, it helps.

The book is "Stop Running Scared! Fear Control Training:  The New Way to Conquer Your Fears, Phobias and Anxieties" by Herbert Fensterheim.  (It is out of print but can be purchased via Amazon or ordered at your local library via interlibrary loan).

11.  I can do 10 full-on push-ups.
On my good days.

12.  I kiss my dogs on the lips.
And they kiss me back.  Maybe that's why I never get sick.  I have built up a resistance to germs!

13.  I have more than 75 jackets.
I know, yet another addiction.  I think it stems from hanging out with kids who could afford the expensive clothes, the cute little suits and vests I would see in "Seventeen Magazine" when I was a teen.  When my son was young, it got so bad that I had to store some of them in his closet, which he was not happy about.  I remember him looking for sympathy by taking one of his friend's mother into his room to show her all of my jackets in his closet.  Poor kid.  I feel bad. Well, kinda.

14.  I do not wear a wedding ring, though I have been married enough times to qualify.
I definitely had feminist fever back in the 70's and do consider myself a feminist now.  It is not a dirty word.  But I got this idea that a wedding ring was a "slave band," which I am sure went over well with the hubbies who then didn't have to fork out for one. And then time went by.  But NOW, I certainly wouldn't mind a nice big rock to wave around.

15.  I almost failed the Existentialism philosophy class in college.
Now that I think of it, I did fail. How existential is that?

16.  I didn't get my ears pierced until I was 25.
I have always been a big scaredy cat so I put this fashion forward move off until I lost so many earrings, I couldn't stand it anymore.  I had a friend in library school who made beautiful dangly earrings and I just had to wear them.  So I bit the bullet, had my ears pierced and then, of course, in my excitement, started wearing the heavy, dangly earrings right away.  A blood fest ensued but I was wearing those damn earrings if it killed me.  Remember, in the famous words of Billy Crystal's Fernando Lamas character on SNL:  "It is better to look good than to feel good!" 

17. I have a Scarlet O'Hara doll with every costume from the movie.
Now I just need a granddaughter who will play with her with me.

18. Princess Diana's ghost visited me the night after she died.
I am sure I have talked often about what a big Princess Diana fan I was.  Her death was right up there with John Lennon's when it came to how devastating it felt. I liked being in a world with her in it, if you can understand that, and the world just didn't seem the same after she died.  That may seem irrational but I think that's what fuels our admiration for people we look up to.

Just as it was with John Lennon, I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news.  I stayed up all night to watch the funeral procession take her body to Althorp for burial.  The night after she died, I was lying awake and my robe that was hanging on the back of our bedroom door took on Diana's shape.  Now why Diana's ghost would be visiting me is a bit of a stretch, even if I was one of her biggest fans, but it was strangely comforting so I am sticking to my story. 

Did I mention I also have a Princess Diana doll?
Though I need to do something about her hair.

19.  I have been to Europe more than 10 times, but even though I have lived on the West Coast for over 40 years, I have never been to Hawaii.
I know.  It's on my list but when Europe calls to me, I can't resist.  Especially England.  I think I must have been British in a past life because I feel so at home there.  Love Paris but London is MY town!

20.  I am addicted to a British soap opera called "Eastenders," have been watching it for 28 years and never missed an episode.
Well, almost never missed one.

I would tape it (remember VHS?) when on vacation or at work and go to extraordinary lengths to watch it. I started watching it on PBS but when that stopped, BBCAmerica started showing it. But you should have seen the sturm und drang when BBCAmerica stopped showing it.  There we fans all were, innocently watching the Friday episode, right in the middle of a particularly juicy storyline and when it was over, there was an announcement that that was the last episode they would be showing.  NOOOOOOO!!!!  The Internet blew up as people tried to keep the addiction going.  Long story short, fans find a way and I made some new friends.  And you all know who you are!

21.  I have beautiful feet.
If Joy Behar can say that about her feet, I can give her a run for her money. I would show you a picture...

Oh, OK.

22.  When I was young, I thought everyone in other countries spoke a different language but translated everything into English in their minds.
What can I say?  I was young.

23.  I shook hands with Prince Charles.
We were in one of our favorite places, Victoria, BC, and heard on the news that Prince Charles and Camilla were in town. I'm a fan but never thought we would run into them. Well, we did!  We were on one of our walks about town when we saw a large crowd gathered across from a church.  We discovered that Charles and Camilla were attending church and would be out in about a half hour or so.  And so they were.  Camilla chose not to come over to the crowd (and that was fine with me as I have never forgiven her for Diana), but Charles came over and shook hands.  As he took my hand, I said, "Your tie is fabulous!" or some such brilliant comment.  I am always quick witted when it comes to my encounters with royalty.  But despite my outburst, he looked me in the eye and graciously thanked me.  A gentleman and a Prince!

24.  I didn't have a microwave for many years because I believed if God meant for a potato to cook in six minutes, he would have invented a potato that cooked in six minutes.
I have since been converted since I love six-minute potatoes.

25.  My first job was running a concession stand in a hockey arena for 85 cents per hour.
I was 15 and had never seen so many athletes with no teeth! This job started me on the road of hard work.  I had to work on Christmas Day and almost didn't get to go to the Prom because I was supposed to work. And being the good little worker bee that I already was, I probably would have bitten the bullet and worked. But when I cried, my boss relented. And I went to the prom. 

 I have never been to a hockey game since.   

And now that I am retired 50 years later, I don't have to worry about missing Prom or anything else, because I am now my own boss!

***What's something that people don't know about you?***
Check out my blog on Friday when I will be reviewing films and books  you might not know about and my first cooking class!
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