To the Union Jack pub on Potapovsky Lane for a US election night party. The jolly Muscovite Trump supporters who organised the event had gone to the effort of providing girls with tight--fitting Trump-Pence T-shirts and Make America Great Again baseball caps. In pride of place beside the bar hung a specially commissioned triptych of oil paintings — heroic Soviet-style portraits of Russia’s new heroes: Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen.
Though he is a big fan of the European Union, Barack Obama brings bad karma to it. So perhaps he should not have chosen Greece and Germany, the two countries which illustrate so poignantly why the euro is doomed, for his last foreign tour.
His farewell visit is, if not a kiss of death, surely a bad omen for the EU and most immediately for one of those present in Berlin to bid him goodbye: Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, who has called an all--important referendum on constitutional reform for 4 December.
Donald J. Trump always keeps everyone guessing. Is the president-elect ditching his crazy act in order to bring in a conventional Republican government? Or ditching conventional Republican government in order to bring in his crazy act? Is he bringing together the anti--politics outsiders and the Washington insiders? Or is he playing them against each other? Are we witnessing the usual scramble for power that accompanies every incoming administration? Or is the Trump transition a new kind of shambles?
The answer to all these questions is yes, probably.
Let’s take stock. Donald Trump, until last week, had never done a government job or held an elected office. He ran for president as a kind of anti-politician, ignoring the conventional wisdom about how to win. Amazingly, he won. It was, in its way, an impressive feat, overturning much conventional wisdom. Still, there’s no getting around the fact that, as president, he’s got to be political and must surround himself with politicians.
Trump’s victory sets a test for conservatives, a test they are failing with embarrassing ineptitude. They are making the oldest mistake in politics. They are carrying on as if nothing has changed.
In the early 21st century, it was easy to attack the supposed liberal left. These alleged liberals were for real censorship. The white working class was their enemy. Radical Islam was the fascism of the time, yet liberals who thought themselves anti-fascists accepted that misogyny, prejudice and hatred of individual rights were fine, as long as the haters had brown rather than white skin.
-What was your favourite response from the liberals to Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election? Actress Emma Watson handing out copies of a Maya Angelou book to bewildered commuters in New York? Cher announcing that she wasn’t simply leaving the USA, ‘but Planet Earth too’ — a move some of us assumed she had made at least 40 years ago? The hysterical protestors who set fire to their own shoes because they thought the said shoes were pro-Trump? The hyperbolic hatred spewed out towards those who voted for the Donald, or Matthew Parris suggesting that maybe this democracy caper has gone too far, or the teachers telling tearful children that we’re all going to die?
There’s just too many to choose from, a cornucopia of riches, of wailing and fury and outrage.
“Is she really going out with him?’ asks the old Joe Jackson song about a mixed-attractiveness couple. ‘They say that looks don’t count for much — there goes your proof.’ High society used to abound with couples in which the woman was far more beautiful than the man. But while we can still point to famous aesthetically mismatched partners (pudgy Trump and pulchritudinous Melania anyone?), the mating patterns of the young now mean we are witnessing the death of the mixed-attractiveness couple.
The new government seems to be struggling with the logistical intricacies of removing Britain from the European Union. I can only assume they have never tried to put together a theatre awards. The Evening Standard Theatre Awards take a year to arrange, but it can sometimes feel like the whole thing is done in a week, which passes in a blur of seating plans, speeches, menus and other thespian miscellany.
‘A more thrilling, uplifting, glorious way of living has yet to be invented,’ the jockey John Francome said of National Hunt racing. Watching last weekend’s action from Cheltenham racecourse, it was easy to see what he meant.
Now is when the National Hunt — or jump — season really gets under way. The summer months are about flat racing, although these days flat racing goes on through the winter, too.