The Ryan Report-Episode 420 "The Limey"
Did you know that the Tower of London's proper name is Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress? And did you know that even though its past has this vicious reputation and its got a torture chamber chock full of colorful devices, only seven people were executed there in medieval times, whereas twelve were killed during World War II. Kind of makes you think, right? And then there are the crown jewels and the menagerie and the moat... it is truly a one of a kind destination - somewhere I have always wanted to see. But unfortunately it is somewhere I will never be able to see, because it is in a country I am not allowed to enter.
I was supposed to go years ago. One of my sisters and I were backpacking across Europe and England was going to be the cherry on top of our trip. We went through Italy, France and Germany and then after a quick stop off in Ireland to see some relatives we were going to live it up old country style. Our side of the Ryan family came to the States a few generations ago, so we had lost touch with everyone who stayed in Ireland, but an aunt of mine was a bit of a genealogy freak and made it her mission to track down the long lost members of our clan. So we were going to be the ambassadors for the Yankee Ryans and then we were going to go to England. Or so we thought.
That time with the family was... an experience. I'll say that much. It was fun in the way I imagine running a marathon is fun. It's incredibly painful, and there are moments when you want to die, but in the end, after you've had a few days to recover, you are glad you did it. The Irish have a rather unglamorous reputation in America that is epitomized in the way we celebrate St. Patrick's Day - a full nine to five workday of drinking, fighting, more drinking and then passing out on the sidewalk. In fact there are many other interesting facets to Irish culture that do not involve drinking. That said, my relatives did not feel the need to show us those other facets - they just showed us the drinking.
Of course, while we sampled the country's spirits, we talked on and on about our different histories and about our different cultures and about our different footballs (ours is way better) and even though there was a little name calling - us being traitors by going to America and all - by the end of it we were really starting to feel like a family. That is, until we told them about our plan for the rest of the trip.
The mere mention of England got their blood boiling. I'm not sure how much you know about Irish-British relations, but let's just say there's been some ill will in the past. I knew this of course, but I kind of thought it was all behind them. Turns out there are those who don't feel that way - like my family.
At first we thought they were joking when they bashed our plans. "Why'd yu wunt tu gu tu Lundin fer? Boncha liars and cheets they er!" But then they said some pretty vile things about the British, things that I don't think are appropriate to write here. It became pretty clear pretty quick that they weren't just 'having a go' at them. They really and truly hated the English.
That's when it got awkward and that's when my sister and I started back pedaling. We said we didn't really want to go to England at all, but we felt like we had to because of the propaganda they told us in school. We were glad they told us the truth, so we didn't waste our time going to such a horrible place. We even came up with an alternate plan to drive around the Irish countryside and look at all the rolling hills and the... rolling hills. But that wasn't enough for them. A couple of my cousins took us outside and they made us swear, under the sparkling Irish sky, on the sacred name of Digby Fearghus Ryan, progenitor of the Ryan clan, that we would never set foot in England.
And so we did.
We had a detective from Scotland Yard come and work with us recently and I couldn't help but stare at him, longingly. I don't think he noticed because all the ladies in the office were staring at him longingly too, but my longing was a little bit different. He sees things every day that I have longed to see for my entire life, but that I never will.
Not unless you know how to renounce an Irish oath. And no, I'm not willing to promise the soul of my first child to anyone. Jenny vetoed that plan.