The date: July 29, 1981. At 3:30 a.m. (11:30 a.m. in London) Diana arrived at St. Paul's Cathedral in a glass coach, veiled in lace. "Like Cinderella," we squealed, ignoring that the fairytale actually described a glass slipper and a pumpkin coach. Didn't matter. Diana was beautiful (and thin!), the train on her ivory-silk gown with puffed sleeves 25-feet long. We watched the ceremony, hushed, drinking coffee to stay awake, part of a global TV audience: 750 million, according to the BBC.
Britain declared a national holiday, but we Americans went to work. At the Telegram-Tribune, I banged out the best piece I'd ever written. Swooning details included the coachman's scarlet-and-gold waistcoat and his bay horses, Lady Penelope and Kestral; Diana's veiled face so pretty and innocent.
I pulled the story from my typewriter and with a flourish presented it to city editor, Jeff Fairbanks, watching for his reaction from the safety of my desk. He read without expression. Then in one swift motion he crumbled the paper into a ball, yelled "incoming!" and lobbed it over to another editor who held out his wastebasket without looking up. Score.
My story, trashed, just like that. I felt too embarrassed to ask why. Looking back, it probably oozed Purple Prose.
From BLUE SKIES: ONE AUTHOR'S JOURNEY, to be published this Fall.