Thursday, July 08, 2010

Another British visitor
(Colorado Springs Sun, June 20, 1982)

(I wrote this piece following a visit to Colorado by Princess Anne, which was the occasion of much excitement, including an article similar to this one which outlined the proper way we provincial cowboys should behave on the off-chance that we found ourselves face-to-face with herself. I thought I'd re-run it now in honor of her mother's visit to the colonies.)

Now that Princess Anne has left, some people think it's time to relax. Hardly!

If she were our princess, if we were still part of the United Kingdom, the hoopla surrounding her visit could now honorably die out. But since she isn't and we aren't, we are left in a bit of a quandary: We must either admit that we have been shamelessly groveling at the feet of someone paid $182,000 a year to represent a monarchy our forefathers died to banish from this soil, or we must extend the same warm welcome to every guest to this area.

Let's get down to the business of welcoming our next tourist:

Alfred George Rowles is a greengrocer from Hertford, Herts., England. He will be arriving at the Colorado Springs Airport, at 3:18 p.m. July 30.

There will be a brief ceremony at the baggage claim area, where Mr. Rowles (that is the form of address traditional in Britain) will present Miss Susan Van Zile with a set of British baggage check stubs. She will then thank him on behalf of the Colorado Springs Airport and he will proceed from the baggage claim area to the sidewalk.

There, Mr. Rowles will board a taxicab for the procession to the Dew Drop Inn motel, where he will be welcomed by reservations clerk James Sandoval and Mr. Sandoval's dog, Rusty. In a brief ceremony at the front desk, Mr. Rowles will sign an agreement formally marking his sojourn at the establishment, following which he will be presented with the key to his room.

Mr. Rowles will then proceed to his room, where he will participate in the hanging of the clothes bag and the airing of the suitcase, following by a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the commode. This symbolic act commemorates the sanitizing of the facilities.

That evening, Mr. Rowles will be present at a dinner to be given at McDonald's at Wahsatch and Bijou. One hundred and seventy-five people are expected to attend.

He will then return to his motel room to rest from his journey and is expected to watch the television and have a small, private cocktail party. No guests from the community have been invited to this gathering.

There are certain rules to follow if you are introduced to Mr. Rowles. Upon meeting him, you should extend your hand for him to shake, or he may extend his first. It is not necessary to bow, bob, genuflect or put his foot upon your neck.

When first introduced, you may address him as "Mr. Rowles." He may respond, "Call me Alf," which then becomes the correct form of address. Only family and close friends are permitted to call Mr. Rowles "Alfie."

One traditional phrase which Americans may utilize in conversing with Mr. Rowles is: "Let's nip around the corner for a pint." Individuals in this case may initiate the conversation with Mr. Rowles, but should bear in mind that the "pint" in Britain consists of beer, ale, porter or stout. It is considered declasse to offer milk after the promise of a pint to Mr. Rowles.

While in Colorado Springs, Mr. Rowles will inspect the Wax Museum, Hall of Presidents and the Cog Railway. Travel arrangements for Mr. Rowles' visit to the area were made in consultation with Mr. Jack Stokes through the auspices of  the Pig 'N Whistle public house of Aldershot, England. Mr. Stokes visited the Pikes Peak region three years ago and offered his consulting services to Mr. Rowles following a football match.

Mr. Stokes was unable to accornpany Mr. Rowles, having been declared redundant following the closing of' his place of employment. He  is currently in Great Britain, serving a term in government service as a collector of the dole.

Mr. Rowles will not be attending any formal functions while in the Springs, nor will he give any formal speeches.

Greengrocers in Great Britain do not normally grant press interviews, according to a Fleet Street source.


Dann said...

I love it!

ronnie said...

This is absolutely hilarious, and particularly timely for us, having just seen the backsides of HRM and Prince Phillip as they end a royal visit here and head back across the pond.

I admire old Bess greatly as a person, respect how she's handled an all-too-flawed family and a monarchy in flux, some would say in crisis. But I think it's high overdue for Canada to cut the royal apron strings and opt out.

The most painful part of this for me is attending citizenship ceremonies, where new Canadians pledge their allegiance not to Canada - but to Queen Elizabeth II. I cringe with embarrassment and shame every time I hear it, and Canada will never be a grown-up country until it is fixed.