Orchid Territory is dedicated to Martin, of course, and also Bart and Alice “who were never taken to Disney-world because there was always too much to do in the orchid house.”
I have had many hardened orchidists nod sagely- of course! - and tenderhearted mothers sigh over these few words. But the truth is, this is a family joke.
I had announced from the very start that I would never take any child of mine to Disney World. I saw it as my one claim to being a Good Mother (most of the other criteria being hopelessly out of my reach). There was a good dollop of English snobbery involved, but mostly the despair of the Eng. Lit graduate who sees the end of civilization at every turn. This even though I’d grown up with Snow White, and the seven dwarfs are more a part of my internal landscape than most of my relatives.
The more Bart and Alice argued the more resolved I became. First, of course, I was informed that they were the only children in their school who had not been to Disney World, which - hallo! was just a little north of us, just up the road in Orlando. Then it became the whole of South Dade, had gone, then the whole of Florida and, as their horizons broadened, the US, and of course, living in Miami, the whole of the Spanish-speaking world. Then we heard about the influx of cheap flights straight to Orlando, from Western Europe and beyond and then the Emperor of Japan had to announce that he loved Disney World too.
I didn’t know about the Emperor but I had to admit that whenever I went back to the UK, the plane filled up with families coming or going to Orlando, and coloring books and crayons were being given out to at least half the passengers.
So the funniest thing happened last year when Martin was invited to speak to several orchid societies in the Los Angeles area and one day our hosts arranged for us to have a free trip to Disney Land. We were picked up and deposited at the gates for the day. So it came to pass that in our family it’s the parents who have been to Disney Land. We called Bart and Alice from outside one of the sunny palaces and I think they were old enough to have a good laugh. We mostly people-watched and Martin made sage comments about the landscaping and I really got into the spirit of it all. I discovered how delicious the chocolate-vanilla Mickey Mouse ice-creams were and all day whenever I felt hungry I got a Mickey Mouse ice-cream and ate it, starting with the ears.