I was … in England … and it was summer. Not just an ordinary summer, but the most incredible summer for believing in love and its power to endure. Who could have known then that not only England but the whole world was bound to be heartbroken?!
The summer I arrived at Heathtrow, all England was spruced up for a wedding.
I came in the first week of July, 1981 at the behest of the British Council, to attend a summer program on enterprise promotion at the Cranfield School of Management in Bedford, an hour from London.
The program was cool and relaxed. I made friends quickly with the Indonesians, Malaysians, and Latin-Americans in that international group of 40. I was elected vice president – simply because I spoke the best English of the five women in class.
We had weekends off and plenty of time to go around– the Big Ben, British Museum, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, and the Westend for some theatre. I peeped into an English pub house, gulped English draft beer and apple cider, sipped tea with cream and 8’oclock mints, and shopped at Harrods. I wanted to go to Stratford on Avon (birthplace of Willy, the bard) or even just Liverpool (cradle of the noble mopheads). But I was told going to those places would take some doing, not to mention British pounds which I was short of.
All too soon, it was time for the wedding. We could have the day off and go to London, our training coordinator announced the day before. I demurred at joining the wedding mob. But I grabbed the chance to go to Hyde Park at its eve – a sort of despedida de soltera for the affianced couple.
Maybe I saw Diana and Charles at the park. Maybe not. It was hard to say from our distance of 20-25 meters from the grandstand.
The most vivid recollection of that night at the park should have been the fireworks -- the most spectacular I have ever seen to this day. But it recedes side by side memories of the women, the English women -- many of them in tears. "Charlie, oh, Charlie ... goodbye Charlie."
"Charlie, let me have a last look at my Charlie,” a blonde woman about my age, was crying loudly, piggybacked on her husband for a better view of her Charlie – as though Charlie was about to die instead of get wed.
On the 26th anniversary of that star-crossed marriage, I remember the women crying.