Although it pains me to admit it (for I love to pretend I am really not at all interested in the Royal Wedding) what a relief it is to be assured of one’s own invitation at this late stage.
Okay so I’m talking about watching the televised event at the British High Commission in Nairobi but frankly, beggars can’t be choosers. I think we should be thanking our lucky stars that the current British High Commissioner to Kenya has not been announced ‘persona non grata’ in Kenya like so many others in Africa since Wikileaks has been soiling diplomatic relations worldwide. Only yesterday I heard on the radio that the BHC to Malawi has been ‘expelled’ from Blantyre for putting foot in mouth (in a leaked private cable to William Hague) about the incumbent president. Plus the American Ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, has left Nairobi rather quickly and quietly after a remarkably outspoken tenure (I particularly enjoyed the leaked cable where he referred to the Kenyan government as ‘a swamp of corruption’).
On the few occasions that I’ve been to the British High Commission for a function, I’ve always had a niggling fear that I am not actually supposed to be there since the invitations are often slightly vague and I hate to appear pushy.
In order to be invited to the Royal Wedding, we had to follow a complex procedure of being vaguely informed that we were on the list to request an invitation. For ages I wondered if the message to request an invitation had really been intended for us since it was passed on via a friend – I thought she was just being nice and generously inclusive in order to save my feelings. In fact she eventually clarified that we were properly invited.
Then, as time passed, I screwed up my pushyness and put away my general scorn of royal weddings and emailed the BHC. We were duly sent an invitation via email and informed that an official invitation would subsequently arrive in the post. I never received the hard copy though I hear it did enclose a darling engagement photograph of Wills and Kate which I strongly suspect might now be lost somewhere in the void that is my husband’s desk.
Just before Easter (when I realised that it would just be too painful to miss out on the party) I emailed the BHC back saying ‘yes please, we would love to come.’ Does one expect confirmation to follow? If so, I never received one. Admittedly my reply was late, dispatched in a rush just before Easter weekend.
The emailed invitation reads ‘Dress: uniform, morning coat or wedding attire’ – which I assume is somehow ironic. After all this is Kenya so lets face it, there may well be some wearing kikois rather that wedding attire.
We met up with a sweet friend of my husband (who is my Dad’s age) at Barney’s cafe, on the way back from Meru.
‘So, you’ll be wearing your morning coat I assume?’ we enquired when he told us he would be there.
‘Nonsense,’ he said. ‘I’m just turning up ‘as is’ man.’ (when you’ve lived here a while, you start saying ‘man’ at the end of each sentence).
So that seals it. I will now mothball my husband’s top hat for another year and prepare to brazen it out when we find our names are not down on the entry list .... all dressed up with nowhere to go would be too unbearable.
If I learned anything from living in Kenya, it is that all and sundry will gladly turn up to a free party (as long as it’s not raining – in this case, one can’t possibly leave the house) so tomorrow is bound to be a colourful affair.
(p.s. some friends went to Rutundu log cabins on Mount Kenya over Easter weekend where Wills and Kate got engaged. They said it was lovely. For us residents its a sort of self-catering fishing/walking/picnicing holiday with a treacherous access road up the mountain (K&W went by helicopter). Apparently they've doubled the price to stay there since the royal engagement, but it's still just about doable for locals if you can face the 4x4 drive and packing all your own food.)