So, we’re off on Tuesday, a day after His Orangeness lands with, seemingly, his whole family. Why not, if someone else is paying and you get to use the gold loos in Buck House? It’ll be something to dine out on for the rest of your life. Of course Comrade Corbyn won’t be attending the state banquet, nor will Meghan. She’s apparently on maternity leave, but we all know that she can’t stand His Trumpkiness and would have feigned death (‘I’d leave the country if he got into power’, she was heard to say) if she were instructed to sit at the same table as the man.
And should we be getting excited about this? Should we be thinking of this as the office of the president visiting, not one from a misogynistic, pussy-grabbing, racist, thicko who is currently the so-called leader of the free world? That we should be showing due dignity and reverence … building on our special relationship with the world’s number one power. Afterall, if we go ahead and crash out of Europe we’re going to need all of the friendly trading powers we can get our hands on. Trump is transitory. The presidency isn’t.
Well you won’t be surprised that I’m with Jeremy and her royal Americaness. Actually, I’m much more with Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon. Think Love Actually, when Hugh G playing the PM tells the wandering-handed (on McCutcheon’s backside) president, ‘A relationship based on the President taking exactly what he wants, and casually ignoring all those things that really matter to Britain. We may be a small country, but we’re a great one too. Country of Shakespeare, Churchill, The Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter, David Beckham’s right foot, David Beckham’s left foot. A friend who bullies us is no longer a friend. And since bullies only respond to strength, from now onward I will be prepared to be much stronger. And the President should be prepared for that.’
Trump is a bully and not a very good one. We should stand up to him and his administration, an administration which has gone out of its way to undermine allies, befriend adversaries, cut women’s rights, dismantle international agreements (Iran, Paris and nuclear weapons), deny climate change – promoting the melting of the northwest passage’s ice fields as positive thing for exploitation, build walls, provide tax cuts to the rich, undermine the judiciary … I could go on. And on.
No, I don’t think we should be laying down the red carpet. Trump would, I promise you, be more impressed if we’d stood up to him. He needs the UK. Loves Scotland. Is in awe of our history. If Queenie had said, ‘We’re sorry, but we’re not going to meet with the man who uses the only umbrella whilst allowing his 10-year old son to walk in the rain.’, he would have been mortified. As would the whole of the GOP.
That’s it. I’ve said my piece.
And us? Well a few things. First we have rewritten our wills. We did this via the Co-op who, over the phone and for less than £250, produced mirror wills for the pair of us in under 2 weeks. They also keep the original in a central vault for nothing. And I have started to sort out my state pension. Alert for military old people. You may think you’ve contributed 35 years’ worth of national insurance, but due to some arcane rule our military service doesn’t fully count towards our state pension. So, even though I served for 25 years and then 8 years as a school teacher, I’m still 7 years short of full pension (£168.60 per week is the most you can get – I’m on £155), and so I’m going to have to buy them back. It’s quite complicated but I understand it, so if anyone wants to start up a conversation about it, then let me know.
And that brings me onto Mum, who we’re with at the moment. I’ve taken responsibility for her accounts, bills and pensions and whilst I’d had telephone exchanges with people who in power who gave me reassurance that mum would be OK, I Wasn’t going to be happy until we’d had the paperwork. Which arrived last week. Which I read when I arrived … and, according to the letter, showed that mum’s pension would actually drop.
There was a frantic 10 minutes as I looked over the stuff they’d sent again and again, at the same time trying to imagine how mum was going to stay in the house on not a great deal of money … until I realised that the figure of £250-odd was per week, not per month. Phew. That’s sorted, then.
Which it is. She seems v happy. And now I’m pretty confident that she can stay in the house for as long as she can manage. That was a relief.
Off tomorrow to Mary’s, where we will overnight before getting an early taxi to Gatwick on Tuesday. Bags are packed and we’re ready to go. The taxi’s waiting, it’s blowing its horn. Already I’m so lonely I could cry … stop. A can’t get John Denver out of my head.
Next blog should be from Korea. Hurrah!