He can try to hide - but London will still give Trump a wake-up call
PUBLISHED: 14:00 13 July 2018
PA Wire/PA Images
Despite his attempts to escape the real world, Bonnie Greer says Donald Trump is in for a shock.
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London is set to be the backdrop this weekend to a Carnival Of Resistance, a self-styled extravaganza of protest to be staged during the first visit to the UK of the 45th president of the United States.
The protest will feature a ‘Baby Donald’ Blimp, hovering somewhere over land. This is meant as both statement, insult and provocation. And what of Trump, the object of the exercise?
He will be making a ‘progress’. Like some ancient ‘Oriental’ potentate. He will be far removed from what some medieval writers often called the ‘stews of London’. And he will have been impressed that the UK government has managed to whisk him away from the great unwashed, and grateful that the Carnival of Resistance has provided fodder for campaign rallies and videos. Our only hope will be that Scotland will bring home to him what his presence means to this country.
Number 45 will be visiting: Chequers, the PM’s country residence; Windsor Castle to meet the Queen; Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill; and the American ambassador’s residence, Winfield House, deep inside London’s Regent’s Park.
While the Carnival of Resistance are chanting, Trump could be meeting with Theresa May and end up making a deal for US access to the NHS. This, the nation’s platinum asset, could be on the table for any US trade deal. And why not?
With its 70-year-old accumulation of health data on various cohorts, some tracked since its inception, the NHS could be a happy hunting ground for US Big Pharma – the ‘pill-pushers’.
With the Veterans Health Administration, the only thing that the US has that in any way resembles a national health service, under stress, Trump could make just such a deal amidst the faux gothic of Chequers. To an American, the architecture there feels a bit like Robin Hood. Trump could turn out to be Robin. In reverse.
He will be the guest of honour at a 100- person sit-down dinner at Blenheim Palace. This will go down well on Fox News and in the town halls of Iowa, where Churchill is seen as a kind of secular saint of the ‘Special Relationship’. This homage will also placate Trump’s fragile relationship with conventional Republicans, many of whom are asking themselves what exactly they have wrought in allowing this man to lead their party.
Blenheim will be the schmooze part where the great and the good, by their presence, will assure Trump’s fragile ego that it is they who really matter. Trump will fall for this because he has no choice; and there will be toasts all around about the Special Relationship.
At Windsor Castle, if he intends to lay on a special layer of torture, he might ask Her Majesty for an introduction to her latest granddaughter-in-law. After all, she is still an American.
The new Duchess Of Sussex, in her past life, was no fan of Don the Con. Trump, who is known to test people, may try and test the Queen by seeing how nice her newest family member is. That the former Meghan Markle was an accomplished professional actor will not have escaped him in his never-ending search for that ‘w’ – a win.
And his trip will be a win. With an itinerary that will also include browbeating and chest-thumping at the NATO summit and kissing the ring of Putin, what better way to top it all than with a visit to a fairytale kingdom. Because to the average American, Great Britain is England, and England is the Shires, and the Shires are places of tranquillity.
There are no Latinos; no African American women calling for revolt against him; no high school kids marching in the street; no military veterans pointing out that he – who dodged the draft five times – has the nerve to slam two military vets: George HW Bush and John McCain; no critics telling him that his policy of separating families may last, for some, for a lifetime; no-one pointing out that a special counsel may have the goods on him...
For this man, the ‘troublesome’ problems of equality and diversity do not exist in this ‘Magical England’. Trump has come to escape the real world. To be feted.
It is reported that he and the First Lady will be spending the night at Winfield House. This neo-Georgian mansion, with the largest private garden in London outside of Buckingham Palace, was once owned by Barbara Hutton.
Hutton was the heir to the Woolworth family fortune. She was so wealthy in the 1930s and 1940s, when she owned the house, that she was known as the ‘poor little rich girl’ for her sad personal life. One of her husbands was the great actor and film star Cary Grant and the couple were dubbed Cash And Cary.
But aspects of it have a movie-star air. The private quarters feature the original, marble-lined bathrooms from Hutton’s day. They have a kind of 1930s, Jean Harlow, Hollywood air. Billy Wilder could have filmed Sunset Boulevard in their soft, gauzy whiteness. But instead of Norma Desmond emerging from the john, it will be Donald John Trump of Queens, New York, former reality TV host, now the most powerful being on the planet.
It will be he who will be gazing out over the garden behind the bulletproof shades at his window. And it will be he who will be overlooking the massive garden and the troops guarding him from below.
Trump should feel just not only at home, but also sheltered from the unvetted. He will be cocooned in this big pile at the end of the winding driveway; past all the civilian and military security; away from the Regent’s Park joggers and dog-walkers; and the Carnival of Resistance and all of those who call his win illegitimate, who call him a Manchurian Candidate, a Kremlin plant, a traitor.
Although the garden of the house is large and tranquil, Trump could have a literal wake-up call. In Regent’s Park, there is also a mosque, a huge one. It rings out what all mosques do: the call to prayer. In early morning, that call can be heard.
The glorious idea that Donald Trump could be awakened, in England, by the beautiful sound of a muezzin ringing in the early morning air is not something that you could make-up. Nor could Don the Con – the guy who can sell anything – flog the concept of a US President in a mansion near a mosque. Only real life itself could deliver this.
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