My Summer of Being British by Carole Matthews
I do love Britain, having been born and bred here, but I don’t consider myself to be a flag-waving patriot. I like the Queen and think she does a marvellous job, but I’m not a royalist, as such. So I was very much surprised to be swept up in the atmosphere surrounding the celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee. When the shops started to fill with all manner of memorabilia featuring the Union Jack and I obliged by buying two mugs for the office. Then a couple of cushions for the living room soon followed. They looked lovely.
I thought it would be quite nice to do something to further mark the occasion and bought a life-size cut-out of the Queen for the conservatory. She’s in full evening dress, wearing a tiara, holding out a friendly gloved hand to shake. And, of course, she looked lonely without a bit of the now ubiquitous bunting. So my summer of embracing being British began.
And so it has continued. The Queen has been everywhere with us. She’s been to barbeques, book launches and was borrowed by our neighbours’ children to take to their Jubilee Day at school. We’ve become quite attached to her and are taking her on holiday with us to the Lake District.
As the country has been bathed in red, white and blue, it’s made me think more about my roots. I’ve travelled all over the world and have loved every single place that I’ve visited - Peru, Nepal, China, Lapland - you name it and I’ve probably been there. But I’ve still never found a place that I want to be as much as home. I love our sense of history and the fact that we do great pomp and ceremony. You’d go a long way to beat the concept of afternoon tea. Our green and pleasant land is a place of remarkable creativity too. For a small island we make a big impact on music and fashion around the world.
That was brought home to me when I did the research for my book, Summer Daydreams. It features a young woman following her dream to become a handbag designer and is based on the true story of British designer, Helen Rochfort. It made me realise that we do still produce great stuff here too. Helen’s designs very much embrace the quirky, pop art that we are so good at. She’s just been invited to take part in British Fashion Week - a celebration of the very best of our design.
When my publishers heard that I was having a summer of being British, they decided to give the Summer Daydreams ebook a new red, white and blue livery. How fabulous. This Diamond Jubilee year has made me realise that I’m really proud to be British. And now I’ve got my very own bit of Cool Britannia too.