In March of 2007, Hubs (who was simply Boyfriend back then) and I went to visit some awesomely awesome friends in London. It was a super fun trip full of adventures and pubs and crazy weather and crumpets with Nutella. Essentially, I've wanted to go back since the moment I left. Also, going to London with someone who studied British history makes for a busy, busy trip full of atypical destinations. You don't always know what you're getting into, but it usually turns out great in the end. One of those destinations was the Imperial War Museum. I had no idea what to expect, but it was actually one of my favorite stops on our trip. The museum is comprehensive with a capital C, and so I wouldn't recommend trying to see all of it at once. Your brain will not be able to take it.
Anyway, so we're there on a lovely gray afternoon in March, and there were all sorts of vehicles in the atrium, and Boyfriend's running from place to place telling me what they all were ("This was the smallest boat to participate in the Dunkirk evacuation! Take my picture!"). We notice that the atrium is starting to get kind of full, which we think is strange for the middle of the week, but being DC people like we are, we understand the randomness of tourists. Then, we notice that it's filling up with older gentlemen in bright red jackets holding musical instruments. This is admittedly a bit weirder. Then, we get pushed back into the sidelines-- not like we're being cordoned off, but just being kept to the side. The band starts to play, and I peek around the shoulder of a older woman dressed in a smart green suit standing a few feet ahead of me to see what all the fuss is about. I see another older woman next to the band, smiling and carrying on. They play "Happy Birthday," and we all sing along. During the weird commotion, I take a moment to look at the smartly dressed woman nearby.
And I swear it's Margaret Thatcher.
I turn back to Boyfriend, who's snapping some pictures of the Birthday Girl but mostly taking a moment to admire the total randomness of the moment. I want to tell him that I think I'm standing, like, an arm's length away from Margaret Thatcher, but then another thought pops into my mind: is it really Margaret Thatcher? Or is it just an older woman in fancy clothes and you simply think it's her because she's of a certain age and British and wearing fancy clothes and you're an American tourist? So, I don't say anything. I look at her once more, take a peek at the Birthday Girl who is simply beaming and loving the attention (we ask and find out she's a famous war-time singer who's celebrating her 90th birthday), and then move on out.
That night, we go back to our friend's place in Brixton, and I take a minute to do a quick search. A news article pops up for the celebration of the 90th birthday of Dame Vera Lynn, the Forces' Sweetheart, which occurred earlier that day at the Imperial War Museum. And who was in attendance?
Sometimes you're that American tourist. Sometimes you're right.