I'm sure I'm not alone amongst ex-pat Brits in wanting to keep abreast of news from home. The BBC is one prime source for this, and I monitor the news headlines regularly. When I saw the headline above, I just knew there was a quintessentially British story to share. Here's the story in its entirety.
Let's start with Linda Lusardi. Ms. Lusardi started her career as a "page 3 model." "Page 3" is somewhat of a British institution, albeit a rather dubious one. The Sun, a British tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch, has for many years featured a photograph of a topless model on page three of the newspaper. Linda Lusardi was one of the most popular page 3 girls ever, appearing for eleven years. She also appeared fully nude in various men's magazines.
More recently she's been appearing in various shows as an actress, most notably in Emmerdale, the third most popular soap-opera on TV in Britain. Again, pretty much an institution, Emmerdale, originally called "Emmerdale Farm" started out as a story set on a farm. In more recent years, the show has focused more on the goings-on in the local village. The show is also well-known for having more than its fair share of disasters, such as plane crashes, explosions, fires and shootings.
But back to Linda Lusardi. Linda has recently been appearing in Pantomime with her husband, British actor Sam Cane. Pantomime, often shortened to "Panto" is another British tradition. Presented at theatres (we have to use the British spelling, as opposed to the American "theater" here, darling!) around the country during the Christmas season, the stage shows usually feature music, comedy, audience participation for the kids ("Behind you!", "Oh no it isn't!" "Oh yes it is!"), some sexual innuendo for the parents, and cross-dressing. The lead male character is most often played by a woman, and an older "pantomime dame" is usually played by a man. Popular shows are Aladdin, Cinderella, Mother Goose, and similar.
So, Linda Lusardi (who's now 50 - that makes me feel old!), on her way to playing Queen Lucretia in a panto performance of "Snow White", is driving on the M25, a motorway that completely circles London, notorious for high volumes of traffic, when she encounters a traffic-jam. She proceeds to call 999 (The British equivalent of 911, reserved for emergency services), where she requests permission to use the hard-shoulder so she can get to the show on time. Her request was, of course, denied. A police spokesperson said "Being late for work is not a reason to call 999, contact the police or use emergency measures. Use of the hard shoulder is restricted for emergency service vehicles only."
Oh no, she didn't! - Oh yes she did!
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