Copyright © 2007 by"Jim McCulloch"
All Rights reserved
My Love Affair with Great Britain by Miriam Zimmerman RN.C
I became a hopeless anglophile the moment I heard John Lennon sing “She Loves You”.
I was in the 10th grade and living in a small town in Georgia. My Dad was a specialist in time and motion, and had moved us several times already. Those early years made me comfortable with new places and new people. Making friends was never a problem for me. So, here’s the story of how I fell in love with all things British…
The 60’s were an amazing time - the “London Look” highlighted by Jean Shrimpton, Mary Quant, Jean Muir; the music - BEATLES (who else is there?), the Stones, Moody Blues, Herman’s Hermits, Chad and Jeremy, Peter and Gordon. The list goes on and on.
Rich’s in Atlanta (the wonderful department store) even had a British celebration complete with a display of Winston Churchill’s art, British foods, and, of course, all the “Mod” clothing you could ever want. It was during this time that I decided I had to go to London. The thought of one day being “old” (anything over 25) and not having taken this trip was out of the question. My Mom and Dad (staunch Southern Baptists) never stood in my way. They weren’t happy about it, but they never told me not to try.
I had begun to correspond with a boy who lived in Uxbridge. His aunt, Enid Andrews, went to my church back home and she had encouraged us to become pen-pals. Derek and I wrote for a couple of years. His mother invited me to fly to England for a visit and offered to let me live with them until I got on my feet. This idea was perfect for me. I never had an intention of just visiting England - I knew it was where my heart was.
On August 18, 1968 (the anniversary of when I saw the Beatles in Atlanta in ’65), I left for London. When I arrived the next day, it was 52°F and overcast. I was hooked! Rainy weather is my absolute favorite! This marvelous family gave me the dearest little bedroom, complete with rose-coloured satin comforter and diamond-leaded windows! They treated me as if I was their own daughter and took care of me for six months. During that time I opened a bank account and got a job. When I felt comfortable, I moved to Belsize Park in NW London, shared a flat with 2 crazy girls (one American and one from Wales), attended the Actors’ Workshop, worked during the day as a typist/secretary, and worked evenings and weekends at Hampstead Theatre Club and Windsor Theatre Royal.
After a couple of years, I was very homesick. I flew back home to stay with my parents and began working. I also dated someone that broke my heart, so in 1972 I decided it was time for a return to England. I lived with another family in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. I had a wonderful job with a man who has remained my life-long friend - Ian Wilkinson. “Wilkie” would eventually be the one to “give me away” at our wedding, as my father wasn’t able to attend. But - I’m getting ahead of my story. One Friday afternoon, I had an appointment at the local hairdressers. Anton was the stylist. He began to flirt with me and, eventually, asked me out. I turned him down.
The next day, a Saturday, I found the phone number of the salon and rang them up to try and speak to Anton. I accepted his date for the following Monday - July 3. I had an appointment at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (I was trying to be admitted). I wanted to study stage management and RADA was the best place! (Long story - short - I was accepted!) However, I did not ever attend because Anton proposed on July 4, 5, 6, and 7th. I finally said “Yes!” on the 7th of July. We were married 5 months later. The rest is history.
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