Excuse me, are you a royal?

Finally, the royal baby is here. We can all get on with our lives and I'll be spared stupid questions.

For a month, I was in the US, where I was somehow confused for a British royal.

Considering the scruffy vest, shorts and slippers covering my gangly frame, I'm sure it's an easy mistake for Americans to make.

It was because of the accent. In truth, the accent is now a bit of a mess, with traces of cockney, standard English, Singlish and even Aussie slang depending on who I'm not talking to, but it is decidedly un-American and that was enough.

"Excuse me, you're from England, aren't ya?" A kindly, plump, middle-aged lady asked at a hotel check-in counter.

I instinctively cringed.

I was once asked - in all seriousness - by an American woman if I lived anywhere near Hogwarts.

As I wasn't familiar with the Harry Potter series at the time, I foolishly asked - out loud - if she knew any neighbouring towns around Hogwarts as I couldn't locate the place.

When she explained it was a place where loads of weird kids did rebellious things, I guessed Hogwarts must be near my hometown Dagenham.

But my new American friend didn't want to talk boy wizards, she wanted to talk babies.

"Do you know if the baby has been born yet?" she enquired, a little too giddily for my taste. I thought she had been on the sherry.

"Sorry, what baby is that?" I replied, genuinely confused and wondering if she was ever going to give me my hotel room key.

"THE baby," she exclaimed. "The baby, the royal baby!"

She was starting to scare my daughter.

Her cries failed to register, partly because I hadn't been following current news events particularly closely, but mostly because I really wanted my hotel room key.

"Your royal family's baby," she continued.

Tired and a trifle disoriented, I did wonder if my mother had run away with Prince Charles. And then the penny finally dropped.

"Ah, you mean that baby. Prince William and er, what's her name?"

"Kate! Kate's baby. How could you forget her name?"

Well, she's not my wife.

I wasn't being intentionally flippant. I left England when I was 21. My entire adult life has been spent elsewhere, all that remains are traces of my accent, a childish sarcasm and an irrational loathing of the Australian cricket team.

Other than that, I have more cultural faces than a Singapore Government campaign poster.

So the impending royal birth had slipped beneath the radar. To be honest, I was more interested to see if Jose Mourinho would deliver a bald, bouncing bundle of joy for Chelsea supporters. But Wayne Rooney hasn't made a decision yet.

(Yes, that was a cheap shot. I don't do personal jokes, but I get around this one with the caveat that Rooney isn't bald. He actually pays a lot of money to look like that.)

"Sorry, I have no idea about Kate's baby. I haven't been following it," I shrugged.

"But it's your royal baby."

Well, in point of fact, it's not my baby. If it was my baby, then I'm pretty sure I'm guilty of a treasonable offence - and that's just with my wife. She would cut off my...

Testing the woman's patience, I conceded that the British royal family wasn't high on my list of my priorities.

"But it's your royal baby," she said again.

"That's highly unlikely. I was in Singapore at the time of conception, working on a TV show. It had 'sexy' in the title, but I still think that's a bit of a stretch, don't you?"

Like Queen Victoria, she wasn't amused.

But the American obsession with the young British royals has been startling, if understandable. William and Kate encapsulate the cult of celebrity that engulfs the US and satisfies the secret royalist yearnings of a republic.

Remember, America has no royal family, but it's the only country that gave us the king of rock 'n' roll, the king of pop and the king-size mattress.

Eager to escape royal baby mania, I searched for some sanity on Singapore news websites. You know, hawker centre cleaning wars and rational stuff like that. Instead, the most popular sites screamed the headline: "Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton is in labour."

(As news home pages must be changed constantly, how do you update a headline like that? Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton still in labour?)

But the baby bug had even reached Singapore. No one was immune to the frenzy of the Great Kate Wait.

I had a sudden yearning to read more about hawker centre cleaning contracts. At least that was uniquely Singaporean.

Finally, the Duchess of Cambridge put us all out of our misery - and presumably herself - by delivering birth to a healthy baby boy.

Even though it's "my royal baby"- apparently - I have no further updates at this stage, other than to say he is likely to be educated at Hogwarts.

 


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