On Wednesday night, Matt and I went to Chris and Anna's for dinner. I hadn't seen either of them in a while so this seemed a totally normal plan, so imagine my shock when the door to their flat opened to a sea of red, white and blue balloons, the stereo belting "God Save the Queen", and a collection of our London friends wearing "British" fancy dress and waving English flags, all in honor (honour!) of my recent official entry into Britain! All the costumes were brilliant - Anna was a simple (but very elegant handmade) teabag; Chris was the superhero cricketer Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff; Lucy, Maid Marion; Ernesto (and his friend from NY who had just arrived that evening and was probably a little puzzled as to whether this was normal Wednesday night behavior), football supporters in Arsenal and England kit wrapped in flags; Heidi sported another elegant and spectacularly hand-stitched outfit as the Pearly Queen; Becks represented all of Britain, in tartan (for Scotland), a bowler hat (for England), and carrying a leek (for Wales) and a potato (for N. Ireland); Doug was Paddington Bear (new wife Annlou was evidently a Geordie); and best of all, Chris had ordered costumes for Matt and me - the most amazing outfits of King and Queen! He also got a toddler Darth Vader outfit but Blake wouldn't let us put it on him, perhaps the only real disappointment of the evening!
There was an array of British tasty treats: crustless sandwiches filled with ham, cucumber and cream cheese, and cheese and tomato, cheese and pineapple on toothpicks, crisps and dips, and sausages followed by scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, washed down with Pimm's and hot cups of tea.
We had a few congratulatory telegrams from Down Under (Will and Raina) and Down Over (Russ from Bristol), which was a special treat. I tried to make a speech but with little preparation, I did not express my gratitude as much as I would have liked to, although I did perform one knighthood ("Arise Sir Penose") using Maid Marion's sword. As the last tunes of Chris's Britpop compilation died out, we called it a night. But what a night to remember! Now with the ceremony behind me, and Britain: The Party firmly etched in my mind as one of the best surprises of my live, I can now say I officially feel welcome by this great commonwealth. Although with friends like these, I've felt welcome for quite some time now. Thanks, guys-it was awesome!