Posts Tagged 'English'

What Leaders Should Learn From Obama

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It struck me recently that if there were a sudden approaching crisis; nuclear apocalypse, meteor heading for Earth, devastating tsunami; something to wipe us out like in the films, we’d have to turn to David Cameron. If our lives were about to be thrown into an enormous tumble-drier, the person we’d have to look to in our hour of need to guide us through fire and brimstone, and provide our beacon the way that Churchill did in the war, would be a slimly, mid-level suburban Estate Agent in a Marks and Spencer’s Suit and odd socks.

David-Cameron

Politically, Obama is no different to any other politician, so far as I can tell, but I don’t want to talk about politics, I want to talk about a man. If America were facing destruction, one has some degree of faith that Obama would stand up and lead his Country through turmoil, fates willing. This is why he was elected President. One can picture Obama being heroic, giving his people comfort. One imagines that Obama would do something. He would lead his people, which is precisely the point of him.

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What did David Cameron do when London rioted? He stayed on holiday until it was absolutely over. He was photographed playing games on the beach with his family while his city burned. I wouldn’t suggest that he isn’t entitled to a holiday. As a matter of fact, I argued at the time in favour of his being allowed a holiday. An un-rested man does not make a good leader. But he should have been back in London before the riots were even under way. He should have been there with the people, doing something.

Obama is not middle-class, or posh, or particularly working-class. Obama is casteless. He has a depth that Cameron is constantly trying to beat out of himself, as all middle-class Englishmen are. Cameron strives to be bland, and inoffensive; to appeal ambiguously and dilutedly to as many people as possible. Obama, however, exudes strength. To be frank, Obama is majestic.

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Even if only apparently, Obama gives the impression of being trustworthy. It probably isn’t the case, but he gives the impression. He looks you in the eye. When an English politician is asked a question, they immediately begin to flounder. I wouldn’t waste my breath asking one a question, because I wouldn’t credit the answer.

Who else but Barack Obama would release a video of himself pretending to be Daniel Day Lewis playing Barack Obama, making jokes about his own ears? Hilarious and endearing, because it seemed absolutely sincere. Obama isn’t afraid to laugh at himself, which gives the distinct impression that there isn’t as much to hide. By his very nature, Obama instils people with faith, and a sense of transparency.

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When was the last time David Cameron was moved to tears whilst giving a speech? When was the last time we saw David Cameron laughing? Would David Cameron ever release a video making fun of his own ears? Never. David Cameron is bland, and non-committal; always trying to manage the level of offence caused by his words.

Under the names POTUS and FLOTUS (President of The United States and First Lady of The United States), Barack and Michelle Obama use their Twitter accounts to give the people a glimpse into their personal lives, and invest a level of playful intimacy that would make David Cameron shudder. We know the name of their dog, and the colour of their shoes, and we see photographs of them in their twenties, when they were hot and dust-covered youths in t-shirts. In everything, there is a sense that they are deeply in love, and from all available evidence, it would seem that Obama is a very decent man.

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The Obamas kiss in public; they touch each other.   They dance on stage.  They seem every bit the passionate, connected couple they are. They aren’t afraid to show people how attracted they are to each other. Even in public, they see only each other. There is no doubt about their relationship. They aren’t afraid to be hot. That doesn’t happen in England.

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David Cameron strives to remove all emotion from every public appearance, and the text of every speech. I realise that we are much more formal in England, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s the reason I love us. I am one of the old-fashioned people that longs for things to go back to how they used to be, and who hate the erosion of English tradition. That said, I think Dave could learn a lot from the Obamas when it comes to being genuine, and connecting sincerely with people. When Obama speaks to a crowd, he speaks to every individual. He moves every individual, and is often visibly moved himself. Whether with tears or laughter, Obama connects with every person in the room. One always has the sense that David Cameron is merely getting through another obligation without causing too much of a fuss.

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Politics aside, I wish that Britain had a leader that made us laugh, and cry, and trust, the way that Obama does. I wish we were lead by a man or woman that cared about us. I wish our politics felt less middle-management. I wish we had someone to respect, and follow, and be proud of.

We’re not even American, and most of us look up to Obama. Most of us have been moved to laughter, or a lump in the throat, when hearing him speak. Most of us have swooned over Michelle, and admitted, in a drunken moment, that Obama is actually quite dashing. Isn’t it a shame that, as far as I can tell, the majority of Britons are completely non-plussed by David Cameron, and probably don’t have much of an opinion of him either way?

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As much I deeply adore the quiet London dignity of 10 Downing Street, and all the age-old tradition of Big Ben, and Parliament, and Macintoshes and Tube stations, and spectacles behind newspapers, perhaps America is helped by the theatrics of Air Force One, and The Oval Office. The White House is a dramatic stage, and Air Force One automatically turns any President into an action hero. Having said that, only somebody who truly is an action hero could viably assume that role, or they’d just look silly. I can’t help but feel that standing next to an American President in a blue flying jacket with an Eagle on the lapel, any of our English politicians, in their suits and socks, look distinctly like Mr Bean.

On a personal level, I really wish Britain could be lead by a hero again, rather than another Waitrose Dad trying not to cause too much offence. What has happened to the Churchills and Thatchers?

Let’s have heroics back in Britain. Let’s be lead by somebody who gives a shit. I want a man that will cry. I want a woman that will fight. I want somebody that will do something, anything, for us, with us.

Somebody like Obama.

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A diary of cakes and tea.

It has been brought to my attention, by three separate people, that my family and I are forever eating scones and drinking tea.  Actually, it’s true.  A combination of two months of wet spring weekends, a mammoth festival of bank holidays thanks to Easter, the Royal Wedding, and May bank holidays, plus four damp days in Wales, have resulted in a string of occasions where we have found ourselves at a table, perhaps in a teashop or on a lawn somewhere, with a cup of tea and scone with jam and cream.  In fact, I’m not complaining, because it is a lovely, very British way of spending an afternoon, whether it be sunny or drizzling.  The teashops of these fair isles are a thing of wonder.

Spring started with a weekend full of picnics.  The first was a bikeride to our local Heath, and saw the début of the heart-shaped picnic basket I’d received for Christmas from my Grandmother.  The second picnic took us to Wales, the beautiful town of Conwy, for a small stony spot by the beach, surrounded by fishing boats and the wing of a dead seagull, which was only discovered after we’d eaten.

We celebrated two birthdays this Spring, both with Cake.  For one we  went for breakfast at the local teashop, and ordered Pizza in the evening, for the other we went walking in Derbyshire.  Both were lovely.  In our family we always make a special fuss of birthdays, and never let one pass without doing something special.

April 29th 2011 brought with it THE ROYAL WEDDING, and the country celebrated in true old-fashioned style.  In fact, I didn’t even have to verify that date, I just know it.  In our house we eschewed the children and beer ridden street party that our neighbours were holding, and instead had our own celebration, with cakes and tea, and dresses from Jack Wills and Cath Kidston.  We spent the night before making bunting, and had a whole day devoted to shopping for outfits and porcelain memorabilia.

We watched the event, glued to the screen, from start to finish, relishing every moment, feeling part of something special.  The only thing that momentarily robbed our attention, and only in the boring bits, was the food.  Chocolate cake, pink fairy cakes, strawberries, trifle, garlic bread, pizza, tarts and quiches, homemade pies, and everything in between.  It was a true feast.

We wanted to make it a special day, one we’ll always remember, like the wartime street parties and jubilee celebrations of our grandparents, and we certainly succeeded. I’ll always look back on it as a lovely day.  Of-course, we had champagne and lots of tea.

The Easter weekend felt like much-needed holiday, and with the bank holidays, and royal weddings, and days off, it felt like a long break.  We had a day walking in Derbyshire, with a picnic on the edge of a river, always entertaining with pensioners, walking along eating Easter eggs, and a sumptuous dinner in a beautiful hotel in Buxton.  Now that we have a child in the family, my cousin who’s almost two, we had a legitimate excuse to have an Easter egg hunt, something we’ve been doing for years anyway.

We hunted for eggs in my grandparents’ garden, on an unusually warm and sunny morning, and then we sat down to tea and cake.  My Mum had baked fairy cakes from scratch, and arrived with arms full of cake tins and Tupperware, and my Nanna made a typically eccentric chocolate cake with layers of cream and strawberries.

My Nanna comes from a family of master bakers, and was rightly proud, as was my Mum.

The past two weeks have been busy, with three beautiful but slightly damp days in Wales in a caravan, which gave us two opportunities every day to have tea and cake, an opportunity we took full advantage of.

For the record, I drink builder’s tea.  Medium strength, but with lots of milk, and two and a half sugars.  Any other way, and I can’t drink it.  Made properly, I luxuriate in tea, feel comforted by it, am taken to a higher plane by it.  I am so grateful whenever anybody makes me a drink and brings me an unexpected cup of tea, it’s a lovely surprise and kind gesture, but one thing I can’t stand is when someone makes you a drink the way they think it should be made, rather than how you like it.  The worst culprit is my grandparents.  They believe that tea should be the colour of mahogany, with a thimbleful of milk, and one sugar.  After years and years, I’ve finally succeeded in making them accept that I take more than one sugar, and they’ve gone up to two very small ones, but will never reach the full two and half.

There’s nothing quite like sheltering from the rain on a cold day, or stopping off on the way home after a long journey in a cramped, packed-up car, for a nice cup of tea and some sandwiches and cake.  Better yet, a lasagne.

I’m actually in love with tea and cake, I’ve just realised that.

These last few pictures were taken at The Davenport Tea Room, at Acton Bridge in Cheshire. http://www.davenportsflorists.co.uk/tearooms.html  It’s down a tiny lane, signposted opposite Marco Marco and The Leigh Arms, and is well worth a visit.  In a beautiful old farmhouse, with antique tables and exquisite china, they have a wonderful menu and the perfect atmosphere.

All this writing about tea, I’m gasping for a brew!


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Sylvia Plath said; "Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences". My aim in life is to find things and people to love, so that I can write about them. Putting words together is the only thing I can see myself doing. This blog is an outlet, and I hope you enjoy reading it. Please feel free to comment on posts, or contact me by the special e-mail I've set up (vikki.littlemore@live.co.uk) with your thoughts.


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The New Remorse, Oscar Wilde.

The sin was mine; I did not understand.
So now is music prisoned in her cave,
Save where some ebbing desultory wave
Frets with its restless whirls this meagre strand.
And in the withered hollow of this land
Hath Summer dug herself so deep a grave,
That hardly can the leaden willow crave
One silver blossom from keen Winter's hand.

But who is this who cometh by the shore?
(Nay, love, look up and wonder!) Who is this
Who cometh in dyed garments from the South?
It is thy new-found Lord, and he shall kiss
The yet unravished roses of thy mouth,
And I shall weep and worship, as before.

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Music I Love (In no particular order, except that The Smiths are first)

The Smiths,
The Libertines,
The Courteeners,
Nina Simone,
Oasis,
Pete Doherty,
Gossip,
The Kills,
Amy Winehouse,
Arctic Monkeys,
Rod Stewart,
The Doors,
The Rolling Stones,
Etta James,
Babyshambles,
T. Rex,
The Jam,
Morrissey,
Guillemots,
The Kinks,
Jack White,
The Deadweather,
David Bowie,
The Winchesters,
The Cure,
Kaiser Chiefs,
The Kooks,
The Twang,
Kings Of Leon,
Pulp,
Blur,
The Housemartins,
The Ramones,
James,
Robots in Disguise,
The Klaxons,
Kate Nash,
The Raconteurs,
Regina Spektor,
Aretha Franklin,
Stereophonics,
The Contours,
Dirty Pretty Things,
The White Stripes,
New York Dolls,
Yeah Yeah Yeahs,
The Clash,
Style Council,
Velvet Underground,
The Horrors,
The Cribs,
Reverend and The Makers,
The Subways,
The Wombats,
Foals,
Elle S'appelle,
The Troggs,
The Beatles,
Echo and the Bunnymen,
Florence and the Machine.

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

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Will it ever be alright for Blighty to have a Queen Camilla?

One less tree from our window each day


Vikki's bookshelf: read

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
1984
Twilight
Of Mice and Men
Pride and Prejudice
The Hobbit
The Da Vinci Code
Lolita
Tipping the Velvet
Wuthering Heights
The Picture of Dorian Grey and Other Works by Oscar Wilde
Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Irish Peacock & Scarlet Marquess: The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde
The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman
Moab Is My Washpot
The Bell Jar
The Other Boleyn Girl
On the Road
Brideshead Revisited
Revolutionary Road



Vikki Littlemore's favorite books »

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