The ex ex­pat

Kate Birch, our new colum­nist based in the UK, rem­i­nisces about royal baby fever.

Friday - - Contents -

Re­mem­ber that scene in Brid­get Jones’s Diary – the one where Brid­get lies limp on the sofa, sur­rounded by empty food car­tons, star­ing at the TV, with fears of dy­ing alone and be­ing found three weeks later half-eaten by wild dogs? Well, that was me three weeks back while on royal baby watch.

Camped out in front of my com­puter, glued to the video feed from out­side Kate’s hos­pi­tal, boxed in by Chi­nese food con­tain­ers and left home alone by a hus­band who could no longer stom­ach the fu­ture monarch - med­i­tat­ing monotony, I was afraid to get up in case I missed any­thing. I’d been struck down by royal baby fever.

It be­gan to reach fe­ro­cious fever pitch (for aris­to­cratic am­a­teurs, that’s 20 times the de­gree of pitch reached at their royal wed­ding) at the 60-year an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion of the Queen’s coro­na­tion held at Buck­ing­ham Palace on July 12. While I was in at­ten­dance, Kate and Wills were notably ab­sent, send­ing the chat­ter­ing classes into spec­u­la­tive over­drive.

The build-up was on and the count­down to con­trac­tions be­gan. For 10 long days, the Lindo Wing (nick­named the Limbo Wing af­ter weeks of wait­ing) at St Mary’s Hos­pi­tal in Padding­ton be­came a camp­site for cam­era crews and a hotspot for tourists, re­tirees and the un­em­ployed.

The rest of us logged on to one of the many live feeds, vig­i­lantly watch­ing… well, not a lot re­ally. The baby-watch bore­dom was spo­rad­i­cally bro­ken, first by the en­trance of Union Jack Man (a 78-year-old roy­al­ist wrapped in a Bri­tish flag, who spent the next 10 days on a bench out­side the hos­pi­tal), then by a heav­ily preg­nant Kate Mid­dle­ton im­per­son­ator who fooled ev­ery­one (well, the Amer­i­cans any­way).

Yes, as well as hourly up­dates and a ded­i­cated down­load­able Royal Baby

Watch app, the me­dia dished out a del­uge of spec­u­la­tive sto­ries (will Kate be a he­li­copter or free-range mum?), dug up hun­dreds of ten­u­ous royal con­nec­tions (an in­ter­view with the cre­ator of the fu­ture child’s stroller rug, any­one?) and of­fered a de­tailed run­ning com­men­tary and anal­y­sis on ev­ery monarch’s move­ment (why is Wil­liam play­ing polo in Glouces­ter­shire when Kate’s about to drop?)

By the time Kate of­fi­cially went into labour on July 22, the news chan­nels were hav­ing king-sized kit­tens, with spec­u­la­tion spi­ralling out of con­trol: will she or won’t she… Have an epidu­ral? Be a screamer? Eat her own pla­centa?

As Kate’s labour pains in­ten­si­fied, so the royal re­flec­tions be­came more ridicu­lous. And by the time the TV break­fast shows woke the na­tion, all thoughts of rea­son­able be­hav­iour had been aban­doned.

The pre­vi­ous morn­ing, im­pa­tient pre­sen­ters had been stress­ing out over

As Kate’s labour pains in­ten­si­fied, so the royal re­flec­tions be­came more ridicu­lous

the state of Kate’s de­layed di­la­tion, urg­ing the duchess to climb stairs and eat curry and pineap­ple – any­thing to in­duce labour – now they were guessti­mat­ing the cur­rent state of mind of Prince Wil­liam: at­ten­tive (dish­ing out ice cubes to his wife); chilled (sip­ping soda or­dered from hos­pi­tal menu); self-ob­sessed (up­dat­ing his Face­book page with de­liv­ery drivel).

As­trologers, who quite frankly should have seen it com­ing, were dragged out of bed to ru­mi­nate on the royal baby’s star sign (Leo vs Can­cer), while hy­po­thet­i­cal hap­pen­ings (what will arise if Kate lets loose a string of ex­ple­tives mid-de­liv­ery…?) were ex­am­ined and cross-ex­am­ined, ac­cord­ing to royal pro­to­col, pub­lic opin­ion and cur­rent par­ent­ing trends.

Even on the streets of Sur­rey (a county just out­side Lon­don in which I live), I felt the ex­cite­ment of ex­pec­ta­tion. It would be an un­der­state­ment to say spec­u­la­tion was rife, with any­one and ev­ery­one fore­cast­ing the heir’s hair colour, height and star sign (favourite was a 3.2kg brunette princess Alexan­dra).

And while the ar­rival of a 3.8kg baby boy later that day put an end to some spec­u­la­tion, even more (would Kate leave hos­pi­tal hid­ing her mummy tummy in Spanx?) fol­lowed.

But we lis­tened and lapped it up, our aris­to­cratic ap­petites seem­ingly in­sa­tiable. And so it con­tin­ues… rolling cov­er­age of the baby’s first wave and wink, and con­jec­ture on his first brand of booties, first school and girl­friend.

But while we’re all busy ‘oo­ing’ and ‘aah­hing’ over pho­tos of Prince Ge­orge, Bri­tish busi­nesses are even busier, milk­ing the fu­ture monarch, with Reuters re­port­ing mid-July royal baby fever fig­ures of al­most Dh1.4 bil­lion due to in­creased tourism and sou­venir sales.

St James’s Ho­tel of­fers a Royal Baby Shower pack­age (Dh475); the Cin­na­mon Club in Lon­don does a Dh250 Royal Labour of Love Menu; and Mother­care rushed out its Hap­py­Land Royal Baby play set (Dh45). From potty chairs shaped like thrones, to royal baby sick bags for ex­pec­tant mothers, monar­chy mer­chan­dise has gone mad.

Women world­wide who’d waited to name their new­borns were re­lieved they could fi­nally fol­low suit (how many Ge­orge and Ge­orginas will there be around now?) af­ter all the an­tic­i­pa­tion to see what Kate did next.

As for what this Kate does next; I pick my­self up, dust my­self off and start to feel, well, hu­man again. And as I re­turn to my own lit­tle prince, I feel the fever start­ing to fade away. For now…

Over­worked, over­whelmed and over there... long-term Dubai ex­pat Kate Birch misses

her maid, strug­gles with small talk and is des­per­ate for some­one

to pack her shop­ping

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.