Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I met a really interesting woman today. She was wearing a panda suit. She said things like: ‘when I went into Chatham House they thought I was there to bring the tea.’
I said: ‘If I could even say I went into Chatham House I would be happy.’
She told me that she had been a lobbyist for landmines and cluster bombs. She had already said about twenty interesting things by that stage.
I said: ‘Oh, it’s too much, you are a saint too.’
I laughed. Then I paused.
‘Unless of course you were lobbing for landmines. You weren’t working for an arms dealer, were you? You weren’t saying, yes, yes, more cluster bombs?’ Luckily she was not. Imagine the faux pas.
She had been to Eritrea with Bill Deedes. I grew very excited at this stage. I met Bill Deedes a couple of times when I was about eighteen. He was one of the wryest, driest, funniest, coolest old men I ever met in my life. He had the great talent, common to all the best people, of treating you as if you were the Queen of Rumania even when you were a raw teen of no discernable importance.
We were with The Older Niece. ‘Do you know about Bill Deedes?’ I said. She did not. I explained about how he was the inspiration for Scoop, how he was Dear Bill in Private Eye, how he was one of the last of the old school Fleet Street legends. The Interesting Woman said that his copy was so good that none of the subs would change a word. I had not known that. I am so glad I know it now.
Then we had a most excellent conversation about whatever happened to the liberals in Texas. For over a hundred years, Texas was one of the most dependably Democratic states in the union. Now, it is a solid red state, with Governor Rick Perry at its helm, and a wild libertarian streak. I am always fascinated about how things like that happen. We moved on to the fabulous mystery which is Newt Gingrich. (I really want to write about the bizarre rise of Newt at length, and may do so tomorrow. It’s about time we had a good, meaty, outraged political post.)
It was a real treat. One of my enduring freaks is an intense, almost obsessive interest in politics, and American politics in particular. It’s very, very rare that I meet anyone who is much fascinated by that subject, let alone can talk fluently of it, and knows all the names. I wish we had had time to get on to the crash of Herman Cain and the strange pronouncements of Michele Bachman about Iran. (I discover, to my shame and chagrin, that all these months I have been spelling her name incorrectly. Disconcertingly, she uses the single L. I can’t be fagged to go back and change them all, so if you read a misspelled version in an old post, I can only beg forgiveness.)
Now, you may be wondering about the panda costume. In my book, everyone should have one and wear it at least once a week. (I admit I have gone a little panda-crazy since the arrival of Sweetness and Light, or whatever they are called, at the Edinburgh Zoo, on their special panda-jet from China.) In this case, it was put on a for a special photo call. The Older Niece and The Interesting Woman have produced a wonderful collection of songs for children, and they wanted some shots of them together.
I am shamelessly plugging their work. There are CDs of just the songs, and a special DVD with adorable shots of the human panda, lots of small singing children, old tractors, and dogs. What more could you want?
You can find them all, including downloads for your MP3 player, on Amazon here.
And they have a website here.
And these are a couple of the pictures I took of them today.
In elegant sepia, with added Pigeon:
In full colour, with both dogs, and the hill in the background:
Now, in other news, this is what the day looked like:
The amazing thing is that even despite the arctic temperatures and gales and snow, my little rosemary is still alive:
And the pot table, whilst a little moth-eaten, does have some green things on it:
The very opposite of moth-eaten is her ladyship. See how she is getting all furry for winter?:
And is the very mistress of the unwavering gaze:
Two hills today. One as usual, one in panorama: