Rumour has it that Elizabeth Taylor liked to keep people waiting. There was even an edict to make sure that she was late to her own funeral. She was a legend in life and will – I’m sure - be a legend in her death. Although she will long be remembered one incident of outstanding lateness will outshine even Dame Elizabeth Taylor in my mind.
I don’t like being late to events where I’m invited but the traffic diversions and ensuing delays meant I was bound to arrive at a ceremony after it was due to start: I was beginning to feel mortified and called the family with my apologies as the hour was fast approaching.
I need not have worried; they still weren’t dressed and hadn’t left their accommodation yet. We arrived late (by our standards) but later – much later – I realised just how early I really was. After driving around 80 miles we waited in the car. And waited. Then, as a change of activity, we waited some more!
Nearly an hour after we’d arrived I called the hosts again. This time there was no answer. I thought they must be on their way. But this was not the case, after some – waiting, there was a ... no show.
I called again, this time I was told they were just leaving the house (something I’d be told when I was stuck in traffic a good while (and many miles) before.
While I waited I saw a few people arrive at the chosen location – they obviously knew something I did not. There was no sense of urgency about their arrival. Every guest had the same invitation but these people rolled in with a casual air. It was immediately obvious that nothing was going to happen for a long time yet. So I decided to go elsewhere for a while as nothing was happening at the celebration venue. When I returned about 45 minutes later I felt as if I had committed treason or at least some great breach of social etiquette.
But, again I sat and waited for the main celebrants to arrive.
When they did turn up (laden with excuses but not apologies for the delay) it was a full three hours after the party should have started. It was then that I thought that Elizabeth Taylor had been outdone!
Most of the guests turned up after this.
This led me to the conclusion that either I was not part of that social network that knew you had to add three plus hours to the official start time or I existed in a different time zone and held a distinct set of social standards. Incredulity remained with me for the rest of the evening.
So, this is an apology to the memory of Elizabeth Taylor who carefully nurtured her reputation over seventy years – and who even kept visitors to her own house waiting for her to enter a room – sorry, but you have been outdone.