For a ‘slight’ change of format, this blog entry of Stranger in a Strange Land is not going to be about me banging on about my travels around the States, nope, this is gong to be about Barack O’bama’s (yes, that’s the proper spelling) visit to Ireland and England and Stranger in a Strange Land somehow seems an appropriate title. The O’bama’s have just arrived in the UK after visiting his ancestral ‘Roots’ in Ireland and like most Irish I’m thinking yeah yeah, yet another American (as proven by birth certificate) claiming to have Irish blood coursing through his veins, in Barack O’bama’s case this is a whole 5% heritage and I’m wondering which bit, his nose, his right hand, I’m not sure which 5% is Irish but I hope it’s not the finger on the nuclear trigger because we Irish tend to be a tad mischievous
One of my friends at work was saying he’s about as Irish as Arnold Swarcheneggers left foot because he’s black (the President, not my friend who has typical Irish colouring ie pasty light blue at the height of summer) and he thinks there are no native black folk in Ireland but I had to disagree, most of my generation will remember the lead singer of Thin Lizzy, Phil Lynott who was also black and Irish, as a sideline Phil used to have a wonderful line at concerts in America, he would shout out to the audience “is there anyone here tonight with a little Irish in them” and the crowd would naturally roar yeah and then he’d grin and say “are there any girls out there who would like a little more Irish in them…?” a man after my own heart. Apparently O’bama was asked did he like Gaelic and he replied “yes, especially on spaghetti but Michelle doesn’t like me eating it as my breath stinks in the morning..”
Anyway, Barack has been to his ancestral home in Moneygall and I noticed an interesting statistic, Dulux, the paint manufacturer had donated 3,500 litres of paint to smarten up every house — at least one painted in the Stars and Stripes. Potholes had been filled in, pavements patched up, floral displays hung from lamp posts and flags hoisted the length of Main Street. Now what I’m wondering is, just what sort of impression does this give the President about Ireland, does it just look like a rather wet version of Disney World and is his overriding memory going to be that Ireland smells of fresh paint? (I wonder if that’s how the Queen thinks the entire world smells like…and is that a required qualification to join the Royal Family, no allergies to fresh paint..).
The show has moved to London now, it seems the visit was caught short due to that volcano in Iceland erupting again and fears that Air Farce One was going to be grounded, here’s a tip if you happen to be a superpower like Russia and you are planning a surprise attack on the UK, all you have to do is wait for that volcano to erupt again and you can fly your jets with complete impunity over our bases and airports because of course all bloody air traffic is grounded yet again.. It was not the first time in the day that the president’s travel arrangements had to be changed somewhat hastily. Earlier, the presidential Cadillac, nicknamed “the Beast” for its bomb-proof features, failed to make it out of the US embassy in Dublin after getting stuck on a ramp. You kind’a think the Secret Service would have done a trail run… The O’bamas had to abandon the car in front of waving crowds and switch to a horse and cart to drive them to the Marine One helicopter that took them to visit his ancestral home. Only in Ireland…
So now at 10pm GMT the president is attending a banquet in Buckingham Palace, nice place, been there once, the loo’s are difficult to find! but very plush, they employ folk to wipe yer butt, indeed they employ folk to kiss yer butt and there are 170 guests from both sides of the Atlantic at this banquet, so we have Tom Hanks sitting next to ‘M,’ the head of MI6, Sir John Sawers which is strange because I thought the head of M16 was Judi Dench, but that must be an interesting conversation, I dare say the head of M16 could reveal some stories that would be rejected by even Hollywood as defying reality.
Of course, what I’m wondering is, will Michelle Obama hug the Queen again, apparently that’s a major no-no here but like a red rag to a bull.. Interesting to see that Buckingham Palce hasn’t moved into the 21st century, one of the reporters asked “is there WiFi here?” to which the super cool as a cucumber courtier replied “No, we haven’t gone completely Starbucks yet. “
From the US media point of view this trip is very much a non-news story and there is (or was) very little coverage of it state-side, at least there was little coverage until the Obama’s met the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, well, they have to do something to raise their profile, the Obama’s that is..