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How come they call it Labor Day if nobody works?

labor day

Have a good ‘un, everybody. It’s going to be beautiful in New England.

August 31, 2007 — 11:50 pm
Comments: 15

Pretty Princess Pancake


I’ll never forget the year and the approximate date Princess Di got creamed: it was shortly before my very first trip to Britain. That faded stamp at the top; that’s the trip. The “7” in 1997 got stamped over. If my flight had been before the funeral, I could’ve made a fortune scalping my tickets. Oh, well.

Her funeral was on the 6th. I got there on the 16th and we went downtown, near the parade route. Apparently the main funerary action was next door at Buckingham Palace, but even in Hyde Park they had to use bulldozers to pile up all the flowers. Some of them were still there; a huge, wilted mountain behind portable fencing. Still. Ten days later. There were great pools of candle wax an inch thick puddled along the walkways. It was like the morning after some creepy Medieval religious festival. Our Lady of the Photo Op.

I stared at the giant pile of tribute for a while. It was mostly flowers, some with extraordinarily personal notes attached. There were deflated balloons sagging off the iron fence. And legions of stuffed toys.

Stuffed toys? For the funeral of a grown woman?

The whole business was embarrassing and unEnglish. Grief is one thing. Lining up by the thousands along the funeral route, silently mourning — that’s the kind of outpouring I expect from Britons facing history’s sad bits.

Balloons and toys and candles? It was so…unseemly. It was like an outburst of folk magic; like that weird fusion of paganism and Catholicism that happens in very rural, isolated places in backward foreign lands. Like a Cute Overload Santeria.

diana's funeral tribute

That was the first time I noticed or really thought about the spontaneous death shrine. I swear we didn’t build such things when I was young…did we? I’m sure I would have noticed. Now they seem to be everywhere; ugly warts along the highway, simultaneously tragic and tacky. Death kitsch.

What do the toys mean? “Your death gives me free-floating protective feelings as if I were in the presence of a child.” I guess.

The practice seems so alien to both the US and Britain. Very un-Anglo. I can’t decide if it really is a sort of Catholicism by osmosis, or evidence of that vague paganism that spontaneously takes hold in the absence of formal religion.

Whatever. It creeps me out.

— 6:21 pm
Comments: 28