by Aimee Levitt
Gut Check would like to propose that a true, red-blooded American like yourself would feel a lot less silly watching the Royal Wedding tomorrow morning if you weren't sitting alone on the couch in your pajamas.
Sure, it all goes down at the
ass- arse-crack of dawn here, thanks to the time difference, but is that any excuse to not get yourself all spiffed up -- maybe even with a fancy hat, like the good British aristocrat you undoubtedly were in a previous life -- and, more important, enjoy the festivities without a nice cuppa or a proper scone with clotted cream?
We think not!
Jackie James, British expat and manager of the London Tea Room (1520 Washington Avenue; 314-241-6556), happens to agree with us. That's why she'll be flinging open the tea room's doors at 4 a.m. tomorrow, in time for her guests to get caffeinated and settled in front of the big screen that'll be set up in English Living, the furniture store next door, by the time the wedding starts at 5.
"It's open to everybody," says James. "Anyone who wants to get up that early is a crazy person."
She will, of course, be there.
"We're expecting it to be really busy. I know a whole bunch of people who are really excited."
Will they be as rowdy as World Cup fans were last summer?
"Well, a bunch of women together could be very dangerous."
James and her staff will be setting out the usual assortment of pastries, including scones with Devonshire cream and gooey butter cake (which Gut Check is sure Wills and Kate would totally love if they ever got to try it). There will also be slices of wedding cake -- technically a sheet cake, but still a cake in honor of a wedding -- and Champagne.
There will be TV coverage by Fox 2's Tim Ezell and radio by Y98. There will be a hat contest. (James had thought of making her dog wear a tiara but reconsidered.)
And, of course, there will be tea. James plans to start with basic English Breakfast. "When things lighten up and aren't so crazy, we'll start serving our 60 different loose-leaf teas," she promises. These include the special Duke and Duchess blend the Tea Room staff created when William and Kate announced their engagement last fall.
"It's a three-tea blend," James explains. "It contains silver needle, which is extremely rare. It's only picked two days a year and used to be reserved only for Chinese royalty. We thought the royalty theme was appropriate. It also has Kenyan tea, because they got engaged in Kenya, and Darjeeling, because that's traditionally what the royal family likes to drink. We thought it sounded good, and then we tried it -- and it tastes amazing."
It's also very expensive, thanks to the silver needle component. But it's a wedding!
A friend of James traveled to London recently and brought back a gift basket of souvenirs, including a William and Kate commemorative tea towel, trivet and mug and -- be still our beating heart -- a Charles and Di mug from that ill-fated union back in 1981.
James plans to donate 10 percent of the day's proceeds to ISMRD, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people with glycoprotein storage diseases. This has nothing to do with the royal family but everything to do with James' daughter, who is one of a handful of patients in the St. Louis area. "It's an organization that is very dear to me," James says. "It's such a rare disease that getting anyone to do research on it is a miracle to begin with."
The festivities will go on all morning, though James isn't sure how long the actual wedding part will last. "The Anglican wedding service is only half an hour or forty minutes," she explains, "but it might take ten minutes for her just to walk down the aisle."
Afterward, she says, "I'll be going all day. I don't know if I'll be able to make it!"