Foreword by Stan Lerner: hopefully downtownster readers have all read my blog “President Obama Fails To Deliver Abroad”, but the following letter from my intern on loan to London offers yet another viewpoint of this disaster of a trip. And yes, I’m of the view that she shouldn’t have touched the Queen—I have loyalist feelings toward the crown!
I know that London may share the same alphabet as the US, and perhaps even the language is pretty much the same (despite the fact that the letter “Z” is pronounced “zed” and to “light a fag” does not have the hate crime connotations that it would back at home) but in terms of the press, the UK is notorious for their one-sided presentation of news. Outrageously biased, one is forced to choose a paper that most closely aligns with their political ideologies. For instance, for the hipster Independents there is the Guardian, and the Conservatives love The Daily Telegraph. However, one thing all the papers used to have in common was a universally UK anti-Bush sentiment.
Now that the Bush administration has gotten the boot, to say London has jumped on the Obama bandwagon would be an understatement. Once associated with a harsh critique on American politics that implied a bitterness that could be traced back to the colonies, London has now united in a pro-Obama parade that might even surpass the US’ zeal for the politician. With London’s gusto for the new president secure, you can only imagine the excitement that overtook this place during the G20 conference. But the excitement wasn’t exclusive to the arrival of superstar Barack, but was also a result of the German anarchists that had threatened to wreak havoc on the city.
Seriously, boss, you would not believe it! I mean, the rants of these revolutionaries made all of London completely paranoid and terrified of anything having to do with the conference. The locals began to respond to the peril of mayhem in a myriad of ways: Bankers were told to wear covert clothing (I’m not kidding), civilians were warned to stay as far away from the City as possible, even my mom attempted to bribe me into taking cabs as a way of avoiding the tube while the international leaders occupied London. It’s understandable that given the clout of the political powerhouses invading our town that police reinforcement would be increased tenfold, but telling bankers to dress like homeless people and boarding shop windows miles away from where the meeting was actually happening seemed a bit more like paranoia than warranted security.
And I was right. Despite the rants of the German revolutionaries, the protests of the political zealots was left exclusively to water guns and some brilliantly painted protest banners (think Banksy, minus the cheekiness). The preparations of the police even ended up working against them, with the traffic caused by the extra reinforcement becoming responsible for the only G20 related death: a newspaper man who suffered a heart attack but was then unable to make it to hospital in time to be saved.
I don’t want to sound like a tw*t, but the lack of violence was a bit of a let down. I mean, you should have heard how everyone was discussing the possibility of anarchy personified inhabiting the city. I think even the police were a bit disappointed that their presence wasn’t necessary, becoming more detrimental than heroic. Don’t even get me started on the bankers who took the possibility of encroaching danger so seriously that they donned a look that Mary-Kate Oslen would be more likely to covet than a Power Player CEO. The German rebels weren’t even a topic of conversation once the leaders left London. Instead, Michele Obama’s “Queen Hug” became much more relevant. Londoners are notorious for their cold demeanor, never showing any affection for anything other than their animals. Dogs, horses, cats, whatever, this group is definitely more likely to show signs of endearment towards four legged creatures rather than their significant other, let alone a stranger. To know that Michele actually dared to TOUCH THE QUEEN caused intense debates amongst the citizens of the land. It seems that this sign of warmth was turned into an epic political statement, far more worthy of press and discussion than any Eastern European radical group could have hoped for.
It seems that the once unified pro-Obama consciousness was replaced by a debate about tradition vs. progression. Boss, you would not believe how this gentile embrace sparked arguments regarding appropriateness and respect. Prior to this, I had no idea how much the Queen meant and the reverence she demanded. But from my perspective,
London town made a bigger deal about the whole thing than Elizabeth herself. Yeah, I guess she didn’t exactly seem entirely thrilled about it, but she didn’t seem completely repulsed either. She even made a small attempt at reciprocating the gesture, which included an awkward arm-drape around the statuesque Obama’s waist, the awkwardness of which being exasperated by Michele’s 5’10” height and the Queen’s lack there of (I think she might barely pass the 5’ mark). So boss, beside the hug and some minor communist protests, the G20 went on without a glitch. Which is great…. even though a socialist revolution would have been a bit more exciting to report than an “Obama Hugs the Queen”.
From your adventure seeking intern,