Last Night Of The Proms 2010 – Hyde Park

I know The Last Night of the Proms is more than just a big patriotic sing-a-long, but for this American it was a dream night that I had imagined being a part of since first becoming aware of it several years ago. If you’ve ever had an opportunity to be in a mass of 30,000 flag-waving people singing in unison, you will know exactly what I mean.

Even though I tried to watch with an eye for detail so I might retell my experience, I found myself singing loudly along with the rest of the people gathered in Hyde Park and focused more on what I was feeling and less on observing others. Knowing that this night was part of the plan for my birthday week in London, I had brought back two American flags from my last US visit to wave in what I knew would be a sea mostly Union Jack and English colors. Flags from other countries were represented in spots and I even saw Confederate flag with what looked like Elvis’s face superimposed over its center.

Rarely does an experience deliver the excitement one imagines it will, but being in Hyde Park on September 11, 2010 did that and more. In addition to fun, I had a chance to see up close how some Brits celebrate their love of music with an opportunity to dress up in some wildly patriotic outfits along with a few folks in more traditional formal attire. The Last Night of the Proms ends a two month series of concerts at The Royal Albert Hall and include Proms in the Park on the last evening. It is on this final night that gestures get grander and people show a side that makes you wistfully happy to be part the singing crowd regardless of your nationality.

Some people dress up but don’t seem to want their picture taken. Oops!

The flag tribute in the photo above to the NYC Firefighters was a touching memorial to those who died on September 11, 2001

I like NY shirt on the man in the photo above.

I snapped a couple of photographs with this group and after giving them a quick look at my images, I showed the man who is giving me a thumb’s up how to adjust his Canon G11 so he might pick up an accent color like I was doing for my images that night. I love this cool feature on the G11. It turns out that I gave a little tutorial to a man who spends a fair amount of time in front of the camera instead of behind it. You can see more of Mike Brewer here.

Even though ” No Glass” signs were posted and bags were checked, we saw quite a few folks breaking the rules.

Dancing was happening everywhere with all ages and throughout the evening.

This was an American artist from New York, but I’m afraid I cannot remember her name. Feel free to help me out and I will go back and add it. (Big thanks to Pete who left Nell Bryden’s name in a comment … see more about Nell here)

Check out the Confederate flag with Elvis. Someone told me in our hotel that rooms were full because of the Proms, the Pope’s visit, and Elvis.  It seems they were expecting them ( The Pope & Elvis, though not together)  later in Hyde Park.

Vibram Five Fingers

I wore my ” Monkey Feet ” to the Proms.

Margaret taking in the scenery as things were getting started.

Click on this one to see the field of flags.

John’s eldest daughter took this with her new iPhone. He still looks pretty tan from his channel sailing a few weeks ago.

The fireworks gave a nice finish to things after a less than rousing version of, ” God Save The Queen.”  Do have a look and listen to at least two of our group sings so you can get a feel for how it felt to be there.  Rule Britannia and Land of Hope & Glory ” are just two from the evening, but they will give you a chance to see what I’m raving about.

All Shook Up – August 16, 1977

I was sixteen on the date above and the story below tells you what happened to me on that day.

At Fifteen

At fifteen, she sits in the dark making a chair out of the hood of someone’s car. Old and white, it belongs to a boy whose parents wanted a newer model. At least, that’s what she thinks now. At fifteen, she doesn’t drive yet and while cars mean freedom, she’s in no hurry to take the wheel.

It’s as if she knows that when she’s sixteen, she’ll crash her first car driving too fast in the rain. When the police question her, she’ll say she was only going forty because that was speed limit going into the curve. She’ll shrug when he points first to the place where she left the road and then to a group of trees in the distance.

“Those trees are two-thirds the length of a football field from where you first lost control” he’ll say, and then he’ll wait as if he thinks she has a different story for him. “Maybe, I hit the gas pedal instead of the brake…” She’ll offer this up as a potential explanation and hold firm to this possibility.

Her dad and stepmom will both come to the crash site, and after hugs all around, she’ll go home to an ice pack and a place on the couch for ease of observation. She’ll know she was lucky that day.

No seatbelt, airborne in a steel tank of a 69 Ford, she’ll remember the uncontrolled lift off of her body as it slammed forward hitting the glass while struggling to find an opening in the tiny space between the windshield and the broad dash of the old car. She’ll never forget the windshield holding firm as her body left its place behind the wheel or the feel of the impact with the trees that ended the free flight of her first vehicle.

She’ll hear on the news later that day that the King is dead. She’ll think about the crying mass of people at Graceland and wonder about why he died and she didn’t.

But for now she’s only fifteen, sitting on the hood of that old car, caught unaware by an impromptu portrait artist with a Polaroid camera. If she knew, she would be smiling. She’d look directly at the camera and paste on a happy face.

Hiding her questions, her doubt, and her childhood sorrows behind a smiling mask of good teeth and the unlined face of fifteen year old, she’d light up on cue when prompted.

She’ll remember a lot about fifteen, but she won’t remember this night or this picture until it shows up 33 years later in something that will be called an email from a boy who took her on a road trip of hope, at fifteen.

Many thanks to JL for saving an old memory and passing it on.

* This is a repost from October 19, 2008 but seemed timely given the anniversary the death of this man.