Welcome to The Anglofile, a weekly newsletter about the United Kingdom from two people who… live in America.
We are Eva and Allie, two New Yorkers who share a longtime appreciation of the delights and absurdities of British history and culture, in particular the royal family. Once a week, we will celebrate (and occasionally skewer) bits and bobs about our beloved kingdom across the pond. We will feature interviews with genuine English people and answer important questions like: "What is Brown Sauce?"*
The Anglofile believes that the country of residence on your passport isn’t necessarily the one in your heart.
FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH
Thomas Curry is an Englishman who is British and from the United Kingdom. He resides on the island of Great Britain. Some would say he is a Brit. Additionally, he writes about films and queer culture for AnOther magazine and produces podcasts at Audible.
Referring to the traditional British tea and coffee break around 11 a.m., here are 11 ways we are indulging our unchecked, borderline problematic love for the U.K. from abroad this week.
1. Man of the Year: “I hope the Queen’s not heavy-handed with the sword,” says Captain Tom, the 100-year-old hero of the pandemic when it was announced he was getting a knighthood this week. Cap’n Tom raised £35 million for the NHS by walking 100 laps around his garden and meanwhile I got up once today to go to the bathroom.
2. Heroes of Our Times: Have you ever related more to a sentence in print than the following? “The loss of one simple pleasure has hit at the very core of British sensibilities: we just want a freshly poured pint," laments The Evening Standard. Hearing the cries of a nation, pubs across Britain are now selling perfectly pulled pints to-go. Bless.
3. “It’s important that they know who she was and that she existed.” Prince William spoke candidly about keeping his mother Diana’s memory alive for his kids. The Duke addresses his loss in the BBC documentary, Football, Prince William and Our Mental Health, which airs in the UK this week.
4. Clotted Queen: Not since Brexit has the nation of Great Britain been so divided. At hand is the polarizing issue of how to prepare one’s scones. One camp follows the Cornish Method: jam first, then cream. The other the Devon Method: cream, then jam. The Queen, who we’ve always been told stays out of politics, follows the Devon method of scone consumption, her pastry chef revealed this week.5. "It's easier to find gold than hens at the moment.” There’s a run on chickens in Wales, reports the BBC. "A chicken gives more than just eggs," says one truth-telling hen-lover. "They're really good company and good for your mental health. Especially now.” To conclude, please enjoy this actual sentence in the article: “Gwilym Ephraim has been selling hens from his farm in Llanffestiniog in Gwynedd for decades…”
10. “The Queen eats to live whereas Prince Philip lives to eat.” This was just one of the fascinating tidbits we learned in a Hello! article about Prince Philip’s daily diet. And how did you make it this far without knowing about Philip’s breakfasts? "Wherever he goes, he insists on his electric glass-lidded frying pan being packed so that he can do the cooking. For breakfast, bacon, eggs and sausages are his usual raw materials, though he often cooks kidneys and omelettes." We were fully on board until we got to the word kidneys.
11. Down For the Count: Sadly, this year’s “Swan Upping” has been cancelled. Ok, that’s very sad but what is Swan Upping? Swan Upping is the annual summer tradition dating back to the 12th century, in which swans on a particular stretch of the River Thames are counted. We are obligated to inform you that, yes, the Queen does own all 'unmarked swans' on open water, but she politely (and randomly) shares the birds with members of two trade associations.
WHO IS ______ ?
Great Britain is a tiny island with a disproportionately large number of sort-of-famous people no one in America has ever heard of. In this pointless weekly column, we will introduce you to Britain’s most beloved extremely minor celebrities. Today, we meet "Grimmers."
In America, if a radio personality makes it into the tabloids, it’s because they happen to be standing near Chrissy Teigen at a party. But that is a preposterous hypothetical because no American radio personality would ever be at the same party as Chrissy Teigen.
In England, it is possible to be both a radio host and a bona fide celeb.
Meet Nick Grimshaw. He is a BBC radio host and friends with Harry Styles. This guy has millions of Twitter and Instagram followers and is regular on the Daily Mail’s “right rail of shame,” a sign he has really made it onto the British A-list.
Can you imagine Ira Glass generating these sorts of headlines? “Nick Grimshaw 'unhurt' after upending £80,000 Mercedes in car accident outside his London home!” Or “Nick Grimshaw admits he 'slept for DAYS' after quitting Radio 1 Breakfast Show as months of hard partying finally caught up with him.”
Even Nick’s dogs are famous.
Grimmers - as his celeb friends or maybe just the tabloids call him - made his name on the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show, but now hosts Drivetime, an afternoon slot much better suited to his late nights with Kate Moss.
His radio presenting made him so famous he was asked to judge the 12th season of The X Factor. He’s a regular on TV, has cameos in soap operas and movies and attends London Fashion Week. The Guardian once described him as “a youth Megabrand.”
Has The Daily’s Michael Barbaro designed a line of menswear for Topshop? Has Terry Gross’s house been in Hello!? I think you know the answer.
HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE CHOLMONDELEY ANYWAY?
The section in which we spend at least 20 minutes researching a topic and release the findings here.
The people of Britain can’t help making things fancier than they need to be, from cars (Aston Martin) to names (Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch). Even the quotidian matter of childcare when left in British hands becomes an Edwardian fever dream complete with felt hat, gloves, and a Mary Poppins complex.
So naturally Earth’s fanciest nannies are trained in the U.K., specifically at Norland College in Bath. ‘Norlanders’ have the ultimate seal of approval; royals love a Norland grad, and you may have seen Prince George’s nanny, Maria, suited up for work in her traditional brown uniform.
British parents shell out for Norland nannies, as do wealthy families from around the world who want stellar childcare and status. The Spectator, ever suspicious of anything related to ‘abroad,’ cattily published the observation that, “Norland nannies have become popular with rich foreigners who are desperate to do — and pay — whatever it takes to look the part.”
Snobbery aside, Norland grads are in demand. A college administrator said there are six jobs for every graduate. Norlanders make free play and goldfish snacks look downright pitiful. Their curriculum includes “self-defense classes, security and cyber-security training, emotion coaching, sleep and behavior, a wellbeing osteopath workshop, baby massage, water safety, and skid pan driving.” Forget Mary Poppins; these nannies are straight up James Bond.
Norland training comes at a price. Aspiring nannies pay $75,000 for their degree, a very big sum in a country where university education is subsidized by the government. One skill they acquire can’t be valued; that is, of course, discretion. You will only rarely read a Norlander talking about their work, which is a terrible shame because we greatly enjoyed the last blabbermouth royal nanny’s work.