When the Anglophiles (and Angloskeptics) of New York Heard About the Queen’s Death


Items and occurrences observed at Myers of Keswick, a British specialty store on Hudson Street, in the West Village, September 8, 2022:

1:30 P.M. One urgent text, sent to Fay Bottomley, from Yorkshire, displaying a tweet from Buckingham Palace: “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon.” One gray-haired mother who, via video call, said, “I’m gutted, absolutely gutted. I’m not a major Royalist, but she’s always been there.” Bottomley replied, “She’s a bit of a badass!” The mother paused. “I actually didn’t think I’m a Royalist, but maybe I am.”

1:38 P.M. Four dollars and eighty-seven cents, handed over the counter, in exchange for one Cadbury Crunchie bar (“honeycomb covered in chocolate”) and one pop-tab can of Heinz Beanz.

2:05 P.M. One remembrance: “I was a little boy when I saw her. She just had her coronation, and she was coming up Belsize Avenue in a big limousine with the hood down. And she was with Princess Margaret, both smiling. I couldn’t get over how lovely they looked.”

2:12 P.M. One exchange: Elena Saldana, an apron-clad woman behind the shop’s counter who has worked at the shop for twenty-five years, said, “What can I get you?” A bespectacled Brit named Harry King, who has been a hairdresser for celebrities and common people in London and New York, replied, “A tissue.” Two almost-laughs. One Scotch egg bought by King. “I haven’t had one in years,” he said. “I’ll sit and have a little cry eating it watching the telly before I go to the gym.”

2:13 P.M. On display: one memorial for the shop’s deceased black-and-white tabby cat, Archie, “a free spirited little explorer who, in his short time with us, touched the lives of many. . . . Furever in our hearts!”

2:15 P.M. More than two dozen white roses, hydrangeas, sweet peas, and orchids; lots of Union Jack bunting; a few commemorative plates; and one framed photograph of Queen Elizabeth II, all placed in the store window—pushing aside a few dozen jars of Haywards Traditional Onions (flavor: Medium & Tangy), Heinz Sandwich Spread (original), Baxters Sliced Beetroot (“suitable for vegans”), Batchelors Bigga Marrowfat peas (“No. 1 in UK”), and Marmite. Not pushed aside: one urn holding Archie’s ashes.

2:33 P.M. Two journalists from Reuters, including one cameraman who showed up to tape some B-roll. One frizzy-haired breaking-news editor from amNewYork, snapping a photo of four twentysomethings who live together in a West Village apartment. “Something about this feels wrong,” one said. Another asked, “Are we looking happy? Do we smile? Do we look sad?”

3:05 P.M. One nanny and one toddler, who played with Gracie, Archie’s feline next-in-line, an orange, black, and white calico.

4:10 P.M. Two Cornish pasties, two Scotch eggs, two sausage rolls, one chicken-and-leek pie, one shepherd’s pie, six British bangers, and one can of Batchelors Chip Shop Style Mushy peas purchased by Shawna McCarthy, who had arrived at the store after a visit to the dentist. “I completely forgot she died,” McCarthy said. “Bad news—I need a full mouth reconstruction.”

4:22 P.M. Three or four stargazer lilies, left at the shop’s doorstep by a woman wearing a black baseball cap, barefoot sandals, and Bose headphones, who, when approached by a Post reporter for a quote, shouted “No!” and sprinted down the street.

4:27 P.M. “Two steak-and-kidney, two steak-and-ale, and a whole heap of sorrow to go with it!”

4:52 P.M. Three glasses of prosecco, poured by Nino Saldana, the shop’s chef—who, in the past thirty-two years, has cooked hundreds of thousands of sausage rolls, Cornish pasties, and pork pies—for his wife, Elena; his co-worker of fifteen years, Irene Donnelly; and the owner, Jennifer Myers-Pulidore.

4:58 P.M. Five dollars and ninety-five cents exchanged for one package of McVitie’s Digestives (flavor: original) by Theo Payne, a Londoner. “I hate the Queen,” he said. “So, yeah, I was quite glad she died. I pissed off a lot of my family. My cousin unadded me on Snapchat!” And the McVitie’s? “I miss digestives. It’s been so long.”

5:36 P.M. One hotel concierge, sent by a guest to acquire two items scribbled on sticky notes: British flag (size: five feet by three feet), digestives (wheat).

6:03 P.M. Three bags of Walkers crisps: cheese, cheese and onion, and Monster Munch pickled onion, acquired by Manu Kakani, who is twenty-two and grew up near London, and said, “I was born in India, so I don’t know. It’s, like, am I supposed to pretend to be sad?”

6:18 P.M. Three pork-and-Stilton pies, the last ones of the day, purchased by a man named Lloyd Price.

6:30 P.M. One radio, tuned to the BBC, intoning, “This is an important moment for Britain.”

6:55 P.M. Scores of bills in the register, counted by Donnelly, who said, “It’s been a weird day.” One more glass of prosecco, sipped by Elena, before she stepped outside for an interview with Telemundo. Two beers drunk by Nino in the kitchen.

9:18 P.M. Two bags of garbage brought outside by Javier de Los Santos. Several more drinks poured by the staff in the kitchen. Many stories told. One door locked. Sixteen lights switched off. One nap, enjoyed by Gracie, the cat. ♦


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