As the “wedding of the century” draws near, media outlets are looking for any angle to draw us into their particular “spin” on the story. Being the romantic that I am, I’m a real sucker for whatever they throw at me. Hey! Seems I’m the only one in my exercise class planning to ditch class tomorrow because I’ll be glued to the TV, beginning at 1 a.m. Pacific Coast Time. I may be old, but I’m not beyond being swept away by Kate Middleton‘s Cinderella fantasy-come-true. I’ll be there to “oohhh” and “aahhh” as she confirms her fairy tale ending to her prince charming, Prince William. I know I won’t be alone. My friend Sylvia, a few years older than me, will likewise be hanging out the “do not distub” sign. AND, she’s inviting a few close friends over tomorrow evening to celebrate the marriage of her future king and queen.
The Entrepreneurs‘ Princess
Much has been made of the fact that Kate Middleton, Prince William’s bride-to-be, is a “commoner.” Her mother and father began their careers working as a flight attendant and flight dispatcher for British Airways, respectively. Yet she has known many of the privileges of aristocracy because her parents built a multimillion-dollar business that supported elite educations for her and her siblings.
Some have wondered if Kate will be a “people’s princess,” in the mold of Prince William’s late mother, Diana. But Kate and her family actually embody a noble, if relatively modern, tradition of their own: a tradition of bettering oneself and one’s family, while improving the lot of society. In other words, entrepreneurship.
For centuries in Britain, commercial activities were looked down upon by many in the aristocracy, whose wealth lay in landownership and who would not deign to dabble in trade. This week’s wedding can be seen as the culmination of a long process of elevating the social status of entrepreneurship itself.
The story of the Middletons’ rise to wealth has been told, but its implications for British culture and public policy have been little explored. When Kate was 5, her mother, like many aspiring entrepreneurs, saw a niche that could be filled to help others in her situation. As described on the website of the family business, PartyPieces.co.uk, “Carole Middleton founded Party Pieces in 1987 after finding it difficult to source fun, simple party products for her children’s parties.”
Like Microsoft and Google, which had their beginnings in residential garages, Party Pieces started out in a shed in the Middletons’ garden. There, mail orders were taken for boxes with preselected party favors to fit a certain theme.
Party Pieces really took off with the advent of the Internet. Today one can go on the website and order plates, cups and napkins with themes ranging from Barbie to the Transformers. If one of the royal duties is to ensure the happiness of subjects, Kate’s family has given her a head start by bringing joy to so many British parents and children.
Happiness through individual initiative is something Kate could encourage once she joins the royal family, by pointing to her family’s entrepreneurial background and championing Britain’s innovative firms, many of which have origins similar to that of Party Pieces. Margaret Thatcher has written that “however pervasive an enterprise culture is, most people are not born entrepreneurs.” But the Middletons, through the story of their success, will serve as a constant reminder of what enterprising men and women can achieve.
Over the three decades that span the lifetimes of Kate and Prince William, the commercial classes have attained newfound respect in British culture. The idea of ordinary people building successful businesses–a concept often called the “American Dream”–is now idealized in British programs such as BBC’s “Dragons’ Den.”
If the royal family were to utilize Kate’s background to help encourage and spread this culture of entrepreneurship, the effects in Britain–and possibly much of the world–could be great. The people of the United Kingdom would be much richer, and not just in material terms. “Earned success gives people a sense of meaning about their lives,” writes American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks.
Indeed, studies show that in both the U.S. and U.K., many blue-and white-collar workers prefer to have the opportunity to advance, even if this means a less equal income distribution. A study of thousands of British employees by Andrew Clark, associate chair of the Paris School of Economics, found that measures of these workers’ happiness actually rose as their demographic group’s average income increased relative to their own.
These findings suggest that as people see members of their peer group gain wealth–even surpassing them–it gives them hope that they can improve their own lot as well. As Mr. Clark put it in his study of British workers, “income inequality…need not be harmful for economic growth” if it also “contains an aspect of opportunity.”
The Middletons symbolize the opportunity that exists in a free-market system for those who take advantage of it. It is worth noting that they founded Party Pieces during the Thatcher era, when the Conservative government focused on lifting barriers to entrepreneurs through lower taxation, less regulation, and privatization. Coincidentally or not, the year Kate’s parents started their business, 1987, was also the year that their longtime employer British Airways was sold off, with shares of stock going to its workers.
Even though Kate’s family has long been in the spotlight due to her relationship with Prince William, recent comments by Carole Middleton show that she still sympathizes with the small business owner. In an interview on the Party Pieces website, she says: “I still work through to the early hours to hit a deadline and never take our success for granted.”
The union of Prince William and Kate has been called a modern royal marriage, and in many ways it is. It will fulfill the traditional function of merging families, but in a new way. When this couple says their “I dos,” the royal family will officially be wed to the dreams and aspitations of millions of entrepreneurs in the U.K. and throughout the world.
Mr. Berlau is director of the Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.
(Wall Street Journal, 4/28/11)
We are being inundated with coverage of the upcoming royal wedding between the future king of England and his queen, William and Kate. Ever since they announced their engagement to the world, they seem always to be smiling. They seem to wear their happiness well. Perhaps they have already learned what so many married couples take decades to figure out. If they have, then they may not need the advice of relationship expert, Leo Buscaglia. But it never hurts to heap on the well wishes for longevity in what already appears to be a solid friendship, and a grand love affair. Buscaglia writes in his book, Loving Each Other…
We cannot look for joy as we do a lost article of clothing. We make our own happiness. we define it for ourselves and experience it in our unique way. No one can be happy for us nor tell us what should make us happy, though people will always try. The sad fact is that we fall into Madison Avenue traps which convince us that happiness is the right drink, the flashy automobile, the scented deodorant, bursting-with-health cereal or the special snack food. Even the wisest among us are seduced by the exuberant TV ad or the seductive graphic into believing that we, too, can change our lives if we switch to a new mouthwash. We never stop to think that there is nothing in the world which can be given or denied us that will bring us happiness unless we decide it. In fact, the happiest people in the world would probably still be happy if stripped of everything except life.
…Perhaps much happiness is lost in the pursuit of it. Hawthorne in his American Notebooks said that happiness always comes incidentally. “Make it the object of pursuit,” he added, “and it leads us on a wild goose chase and is never attained.” He suggests that we should lose our way and follow something totally unrelated. In that way we often happen on happiness without ever dreaming it would be there.
We are far too rational in our relationships, far too ordered, organized and predictable. We need to find a place, just this side of madness and irrationality, where we can, from time to time, leave the mundane and move into spontaneity and serendipity, a level that includes a greater sense of freedom and risk–an active environment full of surprises, which encourages a sense of wonder. Here, ideas and feelings which would otherwise be difficult to state can be expressed freely. A bond of love is easy to find in an environment of joy. When we laugh together we bypass reason and logic, as the clown does. We speak a universal language. We feel closer to one another.
…Joy and happiness are simply states of mind. As such they can help us to find creative solutions. When we feel joyful, euphoric, happy, we are more open to life, more capable of seeing things clearly and handling daily tensions.
…”Joy comes into our lives,” Joseph Addison says, “when we have something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”
Live fully and with abandon. Love totally and without fear. Hope splendidly and never relinquish the dream. These will help us but joy will only be ours when we choose it. As Abraham Lincoln reminded us, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
and may I add…
long life and…everlasting happiness…to sylvia’s king and queen…william and…his kate…hugmamma.
Glad to know that my friend Sylvia has finally got Comcast sorting out her telephone problems. I don’t think either of us will ever underestimate the power of the internet. I send out an S.O.S. to Mark Casem at Comcast’s corporate call center, and sooner or later he answers. None of us ever want to face a behemoth of a company, but when we have no choice, having inside help with the bureaucratic red tape is a God-send. And Mark has been just that, a God-send.
I just received the following good news in an email from my blog buddy.
Couldn’t help but repost what was contained previously in “magical and musical!!! but how???”
When I need a small lift, I click on the following. For a few minutes I’m immersed in fantasy and make-believe. As I sit watching the magic unfold before my eyes, it feels like a prayer without words. The accompanying music also holds me captive, keeping my spirit suspended if only for a moment, before reality releases me from my dream-state.
Come see what I’ve seen…
Enjoyed another great night at the movies with close friends Sylvia and Jim. She and I were particularly keen to see “The King’s Speech.” Sylvia was a subject during the rule of George VI and was, therefore, very excited to see the film’s portrayal of England’s beloved monarch and his queen. Revisiting her homeland by way of the vivid photography was an added bonus. I’m a devoted fan of Colin Firth who acted the part of the king. But I too wanted to see what George VI was really like, the man beneath the crown. I’d heard of his speech impediment, but wanted to learn more about it, and how such an introvert as he, dealt with the problem. Our spouses were on the fence about the film, but decided to accompany us. They were both very happy they did.
Colin Firth did not disappoint, nor did Geoffrey Rush as the king’s speech therapist, Lionel Lough. Firth’s handling of the king’s prominent stutter was excruciatingly realistic. It pained me to watch him struggle to speak. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the dilemma to form words and emit them naturally were so physically apparent. Firth’s eyes bulged and teared, beads of sweat sprung up on his forehead and beneath his squinting eyes. He seemed unable to breathe at times, the words sticking in his throat. I felt his dizziness, his nausea. I wanted to collapse alongside him, under the weight to speak publicly as the people’s sovereign, especially when he announced that England was joining the war against Hitler.
A great actor, but not necessarily a favorite of mine, Geoffrey Rush acted the role of Mr. Lough with eloquence and restraint. If you’re not well acquainted with Rush, you might remember him as Johnny Depp’s nemesis in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, Barbossa, captain of the haunted ship, the “Black Pearl.” In this role and others previous, Rush seems verbose, wordy. In “The King’s Speech,” he spoke in reaction to Firth. The part of therapist was to encourage the king to speak, a lot.
As the story unfolded, it was apparent that Lough’s value to King George VI transcended the professional. Lough became mentor, confessor, friend, and “family” to the king. They remained so, for the rest of their lives. As is so like me, I shed silent tears here and there.
How sad that George VI’s difficult childhood contributed to his stuttering. How sad that his brother abdicated with little thought to the burden he was placing upon George, who would be king. But how wonderful that he had his wife and daughters, and Lionel Lough to love and support him throughout his reign. And, of course, the overwhelming love of a grateful people.
a beautiful and touching “fairytale,” deserving of an “oscar” for all involved…hugmamma.
HGTV is one of my “go to” stations when I’m surfing the channels looking for somewhere to land. One of my favorite segments, which my husband also enjoys watching, is “House Hunters International.” Being “niele” (Hawaiian for “curious”, my family says I’m “nosey”) by nature, I want to see how other people live, especially in foreign countries. What are their houses like? Do they reflect a totally different lifestyle, or one not unlike mine? What are prices like? Do they seem in line with what the homes offer in basics, as well as in amenities? I’ve seen HGTV shows filmed in cities like Tokyo, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Paris, Edinburgh and countries like Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Italy, England, Argentina, Costa Rica, and islands like Aruba, Jamaica, the Caymans.
Most of the locations HGTV visits seem to appeal to my exotic side. Of course viewing places I’ve not been as a traveler is like being in a candy shop, face pressed against glass cases, eyes bugging out over the contents. My latest refrain which seems ongoing is “We should retire there.” To which my husband’s reply is always “Yeah?” or “I don’t think so.” I’ve decided he has no exotic side, only a very practical one which keeps me fully grounded. If it weren’t for him, I’d have been airborne a zillion times, never landing for a breather. Of course I’m glad he never takes me seriously for then I’d have to “put my money where my mouth is.” And I’ve no “kala,” (Hawaiian for money, lots of it) to support a lifestyle of the “rich and famous.” Besides, we’re not of that class, being pretty simple in our wants and likes. I’d like a vacation home in Hawaii, and a Volkswagen bug, blue or yellow. See, pretty basic. Well, at least half my wants is…the Hawaiian home…with an ocean view.
While I’m caught up in the moment watching non-natives weighing the pros and cons of various houses in foreign locales, I’m amazed at their decision to live beyond their comfort zones. Some even retiring, lock, stock and barrel, to supposed final homes of their “golden years.” Besides needing a tremendously flexible attitude toward their adopted place of abode and its citizenry, these new residents must be prepared to live within the explicit, and implicit, laws of the land. They might find themselves adrift without a” life jacket” in a face-off with the ruling government where they’d taken up residence. Trying to cloak themselves in the American flag as U.S. citizens might be like moving a mountain, which might prove easier to do in the long-term.
Of note is the ongoing case of Amanda Knox, a University of Washington student who, while studying abroad for a semester in Luca, Italy was accused of murdering her British roommate. The rural town peopled by folk who have probably lived their entire lives in that village have little, if any, experience with foreign visitors except what is stereotypically represented. So it seems in Knox’s case being an American teenager may have prematurely cast her in the widely viewed role of “wild child.” Even I, sitting in the comfort and safety of my home in the U.S., can’t be absolutely certain if she is innocent or guilty. But while her case is on appeal and her parents wage an all-out-war, sacrificing much in time, energy and money, their daughter is serving out a 20+ year sentence.
Being a professed worrier, although I’m getting better, the rampant killings by drug cartels in Mexico City and other parts of Mexico, has me wondering about the safety of retirees who have moved south for the “good life.” In her attempts to assuage my concerns a friend, herself a regular visitor to Puerto Vallarta and whose friends’ family lives on the outskirts of the resort, assures me that Americans are safe. The resorts at which they are guests, are heavily guarded. I’ve also been told by the Mexican woman who works at the dry cleaner we frequent, that the sleepy village where she is from and where her family still resides, is untouched by the violence.
I am not as mystified about Europeans residing in countries other their own. It would be like my having moved from Hawaii to the east coast to New England to where I am now in the Pacific Northwest. The difference, of course, being that European countries are sovereignties. Furthermore the ability for Europeans to travel easily across borders, proposes a certain level of comfort. That ease and inherent comfort are not an intrinsic part of moving from the U.S. to a country in Europe, Asia, or South America. And then there’s the language. Europeans tend to know more than their native tongue; we, on the other hand, rely heavily upon others knowing English.
It would seem that at least 2 categories of Americans make their homes abroad, those who take their identity with them insisting that their surroundings adjust; or those who are chameleons adjusting to whatever their environs require. Dear friends of ours, a gay married couple, recently bought a home in the Spanish countryside. Imagine my disbelief when my husband told me of their purchase?!?. “How could they just up and decide to move to Spain? Do they know anyone? Are they leaving for good?” But then I let the news sink in. I thought of the 2 men, their effervescent personalities, their annual social gatherings, their love of travel to places like Vietnam and the Galapagos Isles, and their talent for bringing friends together as family. Such reflection left me with no residual qualms, about these 2 fabulous men taking up residence in a foreign country. Perhaps,… I’m even a little envious of their hutzpah.
Having been raised on Maui, I often blame my islander roots as reason for not traveling farther afield with more frequency, or seriously contemplating a permanent home abroad. I use the same excuse for choosing to drive through residential neighborhoods or back roads, rather than speeding down freeways at 60 miles an hour trying to keep up with everyonelse. Call it an island mentality or fear of the unknown, I will never be Marco Polo or Magellan. Perhaps because of my dysfunctional childhood, I find that being with my husband and daughter is more important to me than traveling the globe in search of what I’m already blessed with here at home. But while my search is complete my daughter is confident she’d be fine working, and living, in Europe, if that’s where her career took her. And she goes with our blessing to live the life she envisions for herself, here or abroad. That won’t prohibit me from continuing to give advice, however, that she “drive carefully and be safe.”
is it youth that gives us wings, which when “clipped” in older age keeps some of us closer to the nest?…hugmamma.
On a recent trip to California’s Orange County, to see our daughter perform as part of the National Choreographer’s Initiative, my husband granted my only wish for my 61st birthday, which occurred while we were there. We visited Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale. I wanted to see Michael Jackson’s burial site, but also glimpse where stars of Hollywood’s “Golden Age” were buried. I’d picked up a thick paperback from Barnes and Noble, which was like an encyclopedic “map” of historical celebrity sites, hangouts, studios, homes. Hollywood: The Movie lover’s Guide – The Ultimate Insider Tour of Movie L.A. by Richard Alleman, even detailed the specific locations where the famous were entombed. Book in hand we went on our very own scavenger hunt, seeking out dead people.
Pulling through the enormous wrought iron gates of Forest Lawn Memorial Park, we were taken aback by the serenity that greeted us. Yes it’s a resting place for the deceased, but it looked like a park with acres of lush, green grass. It seemed like an oasis in the midst of Los Angeles, for right outside the gates were strip malls as far as the eye could see in all directions. Just inside the entrance was a Tudor style building which lodged a combination floral/gift shop, as well as an information desk and restrooms. From what little I saw during MJ’s private burial ceremony on TV, I expected more security and less warmth from staff members. To my amazement there were no security guards patrolling the compound, and the few workers with whom I spoke, were pleasant and forthcoming with answers to my questions.
Driving on in our rental car, we meandered along tree-lined roads that wound their way through the verdant landscape. I could not stop “oohing” and “aahing.” Along the way we saw a few cars and other tourists, but luckily nothing compared to the likes of Universal Studios and Disneyland, which we vowed not to go near. In his book, Alleman describes Forest Lawn where “there are no rows of ordinary tombstones. Instead, there are acres of gardens and courts, with names such as Slumberland, Lullabyland, Everlasting Love, Inspiration Slope, and Babyland, where flat stone markers scarcely alter the smooth contours of the green lawn. There is a swan lake. There are two mausoleums—one of which resembles a great sprawling Medieval abbey. There are churches that are full-sized reproductions of churches in England and Scotland. Not only used for funerals, these are sometimes the scenes of weddings. In 1940, for example, Ronald Reagan married Jane Wyman in Forest Lawn’s Wee Kirk of the Heather.”
After visiting a couple of the churches and a museum showing works by artist Paul Gauguin, we finally went on the hunt for movie stars, albeit dead ones. At the Court of Freedom, we viewed a 20-by-30 foot mosaic replicating John Trumbull’s famous painting, “The Signing of the Declaration of Independence.” In the nearby Freedom Mausoleum I spied my first celebrity crypts, those of Alan Ladd, Nat King Cole, Jeanette MacDonald and Clara Bow. On the lower level, Gummo and Chico Marx were laid to rest, as was Larry Fine, one of the Three Stooges. Back outside I went in search of Walt Disney’s resting place without success. According to Alleman, “Whether Disney is here or not (and it appears highly likely that he is at Forest Lawn), it seems fitting that he should be remembered in a place that has the same fantasy/reality quality of the great park that his own dreams created: Disneyland.”
The “piece de resistance,” Jackson’s burial site was off-limits to the viewing public. Set apart from the main section of the Great Mausoleum, his body rests in an annex with a guard posted outside the wrought-iron gate. Keeping watch with him the day of my visit, were 3 women in their late 30’s, early 40’s. They seemed contemporary counterparts of the women who watched and prayed on the ground outside Jesus’ tomb. Their eyes hid behind dark glasses. One had brought sunflowers, placing them against a column at the corner of the building where they would go undetected by the guard. I inadvertently drew attention to them when I asked if I could snap a picture, knowing they were MJ’s favorite flowers. Flummoxed, the guard nodded his assent, but added he would need to remove them to another area where well-wishers left keepsakes in memory of the entertainer. I think the woman who brought the flowers was upset that I had pointed them out. Turning on my heel, I heard her plead to have them remain put.
Inside the Mausoleum we were directed to a viewing of the gigantic stained-glass version of The Last Supper, “which is unveiled several times a day at regular intervals complete with special lighting effects, music, and ‘dramatic narration.’” In the same room are reproductions of Michelangelo’s Pieta, Madonna in Bruges, Medici Madonna and Child among others. With a handful or more in the audience, I listened to the beginning of the narration. Antsy to hunt down the stars, I quietly stepped away into the nearby Court of Honor. Unfortunately a metal link chain kept me from moving through the hall for a better view of the names inscribed on the bronze plaques, vertically lining the walls on either side.
Scared that someone would come along, particularly the woman standing at the entrance of the building, I paced the length of the chain struggling to make out names as far as I could, squinting my eyes. I made a preliminary attempt to go around the chain but thought better of it, and returned to where I’d stood. Extremely frustrated to be so close, and yet so far, I tiptoed back to peek at the audience still seated on the other side of the wall from where I was. Hurrying back I sucked in my breath, passed around the chain and raced with determination through the narrow hall, glancing furiously at all the bronze plaques. At the other end was a smaller, separate room where “Gone with the Wind’s” famous director David O’Selznick was buried. Slowly retracing my steps I almost leapt out of my skin with joy, for in front of me were the names of Clark Gable and his wife Carole Lombard. I was in Heaven, absolute Heaven! I raced back out to where I’d left my husband, heart pounding, grinning from ear to ear. He, of course, was not surprised at my antics, but playfully scolded me nonetheless.
As we all moved to leave the building I stopped at the nearby Sanctuary of Benediction where I could see, leaning over the chain this time, the crypts of Red Skelton and Sid Grauman (of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre). I was unable to see around a wall to the crypts of Jean Harlow and others, who were mentioned in Alleman’s book. During the few hours I was at Forest Lawn, I felt I’d made a special trip to Heaven to meet some of my favorite Hollywood movie stars.
Except for the traffic, I had a “maavalous” birthday,“daahhling”…hugmamma.