Friday, 27 July 2012

In which it turns out I owe Mitt Romney a debt of gratitude

An absolutely massive working day. After weeks of feeling like I was wading through mud, I finally got the pitch and no fewer than two sample chapters finished and sent off to the agent. (The Playwright rang just after lunch to inspire me, and no one inspires quite like he can.)

There was also a wild ride in the sunshine and a twenty-minute conversation with The Farmer, who wanted to know all about the mare. We swapped notes on cows and horses and came away happy as grigs. Or at least, I was deliriously happy. He was smiling politely but you never know. It could have been massive equine overload shock. (He did drive away rather quickly in his navy blue Landrover before I could start telling him about the Darley Arabian.)

The good part of all this is that I have had a proper and fulfilling day. I even managed to take a very quick glance at the 2.55 at Ascot. (My fancy, Dansili Duel, finished an honourable third. I wish my father had taught me the trick of each-way betting, but he never did. It was all on the nose with him.) The bad part is that my huge Olympic blog plan is completely scuppered because my fingers are now too gnarled to type and my brain is too fogged to think.

I will say one thing though, which is a big, big thank you to Mitt Romney. No one else could have managed to unite the country so completely with a few disobliging sentences. All the PR gurus and advertising mavens and feelgood experts must be chewing their arms off with rage, since no campaign they could have devised would have done the job more efficiently.

Mr Romney, I suspect, does not understand quite a lot of things. The one thing he really does not comprehend is that we Britons are the only ones who are allowed to bitch and grouse and grumble about our own shortcomings. The British have a slightly odd habit of taking a twisted pride in thinking of themselves as a little bit crap. Britons moan and groan about our football team crashing out of tournament after tournament; we know we no longer rule the waves; we understand very well that the tube and the NHS are a bit of a shambles. Mr Romney clearly has no time for the shambolic; he dreams of the coming American century, the shining city on the hill. We know our city will always be a little dusty.

But just because Ordinary Decent Britons take an almost perverse pride in the crapness of everything, adore to complain, and indulge in heavy irony rather than Pollyanna-ish sanguinity, it does not mean that anyone may come in from the outside and tell us how feckless and pointless and hopeless we are. That is our job.

(It is very, very rare that I use the Universal We. I dare to use it here, even though it’s a bit naughty; obviously not every last British person will subscribe to the shambolic sentiment.)

Within hours of Romney talking of the British public’s lack of enthusiasm for the games, calling poor old Ed Miliband ‘Mr Leader’, as if he were a character in Star Trek, and saying he had just looked out of the ‘backside of Number Ten Downing Street’, seemingly unaware that backside means arse in British English, the hashtag #romneyshambles was trending on Twitter. Outside, the great British public were crowding the streets, hanging from lampposts as the Olympic torch went by, roaring with approval in Hyde Park as Boris Johnson said ‘There’s this chap called Mitt Romney who wants to know if we’re ready. Are we ready?’ I thought: I think we are ready.

Good old Mitt, with his extraordinary lack of grace and shocking manners, has added vastly to the gaiety of nations, and to this one in particular. We may criticise ourselves as if grumbling were itself an Olympic sport, but when an outsider doubts us, we rise up like tigers. As Churchill said: we will defend our island. The Romneyshambles jokes came thick and fast, and everyone seemed to decide dear old Blighty might be able to put on a party after all.

I suddenly realised that, for all the fumbles and missteps (I do think that getting a hamburger chain to sponsor a sporting event is quite odd), it is damn well the greatest show on earth and this crumbling old island nation might just do it proud.

Watching the happy crowds, I felt a bit teary and oddly patriotic. Thanks to Mitt Romney, I became fired with Olympic zeal and Corinthian spirit. Go, Team GB, I thought. We may not be the best in the world, we may be a bit bashed and battered, but we do have our moments.


Just time for my own little Team GB:

27 July 1

27 July 2

27 July 3

And our hill:

27 July 4


  1. Romney is just as awkward and tin-eared in the States, but somehow people don't seem to notice so much. I'm terribly sorry he went and was rude about your lovely nation (admired by most Americans of my acquaintance who have been, by the way) but I am secretly gleeful that his big PR trip was a Romneyshambles. I have to remark that we just took a long driving trip through the American South, usually a nightmare journey for a pair of Democrats in an election year, and were shocked that we saw a paltry three- three!-- Romney stickers in an entire week. Not that we saw any more Obama stickers than that (except on cars with California plates) but still.

    Along with the rest of the world we will be tuning in to watch the opening ceremonies tonight and I am sure that they will be excellent. Meanwhile, I wish to expess particular gratitude for the photo with The Stick.

    1. Ellie - you are SO kind and polite and lovely that any thoughts of rude Mitt are SWEPT away. How fascinating about the south. One of the things I love about the Dear Readers is that I get these little glimpses of distant places. And I am so very, very glad that you appreciated the Picture with the Stick. (Don't you love the slightly reproachful aren't you going to throw it look?)

  2. And we must distill the essence of all that you have articulated, into the opening ceremony. I think we'll manage that. Bring on the fake rain.

    1. Lucille - there was of course a wonderful moment when the rain did start to fall, and everyone stoically put up their umbrellas.

  3. Ditto what Ellie said, in that most people I know who have been to the UK love it or at least like it very much. More importantly, they have great respect for it. Their little jokes or complaints (such as about the heating in the old country houses) have an insider-sort of subtext (such as, "aren't I well-connected? I got invited to a country house!").

    One of the hopeful things in the 2012 campaign is that the religious right members of the conservative movement (the ones usually most likely to vote, given how paranoid they are of abortion and gay marriage) don't like Mitt because he is a Mormon. Fine with me if they don't go to the polls, since a major project for Republicans these days is to disenfranchise people likely to vote Democratic. Can't even imagine the US with Romney as president. He doesn't even know how to live with a dog.

    But you turned him into such a good blog post! For once, he is actually useful.


    1. Bird - I have long been slightly obsessed with Mitt's dog. Poor Seamus the setter.

  4. nice information keep it up best of luk! nice working i love your work stay happy:)
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  5. I think I may rename him Titt Romney, as he seems very capable of making one of himself.

  6. "Twit" Romney works too -- and won't be banned on Yahoo because of "language"!

    At least one of my immediate family members will be supporting Mitt -- or anyone else who runs against Obama -- for the presidency. A few others from the more extended family are also suspect. I fail to "get" why.
    I fell asleep (typical! having waited to see it) during the Olympics' opening ceremonies, so I missed the procession of the countries' teams which, for me, is more of what this event is about than any of the preceding "hoopla" regardless of which country is orchestrating it! That said, what I DID see (& remember) looked like a lot of fun, especially with all the children and adolescent dancers.
    Looking forward to staying awake for the swimming, diving & track & field. Oh yes, and the horses!

  7. I think Titt will get through Yahoo's primness. After all, it isn't a real word!

    I like your list of things to catch, in addition to which the gymnastics can be astonishing, and I am hoping Federer can defend his gold from Beijing.

  8. I'm interested to know what you think of Rafalca, Ann Romney's horse competing in dressage; they get a tax deduction of about $77,000 for the mare as a business loss, but Mitt can't be bothered to watch her compete.

  9. Comint to this rather late but I am delighted at your post about Romney. Yes I agree only we can grumble and moan not just at our country, but even our relations!!!! no one should. Now you've got me going - let me go and find out what he said.

  10. Romney is obviously, then, not a fan of "Withnail & I" (if he's allergic to the shambolic). I, however, am not allergic to the shambolic, and so am a HUGE fan of Withnail. And "I", especially *wink*.

    Which brings me to giggles every time you mention "The Farmer", as one of the most memorable quotes in the movie goes like this:

    (Withnail and Marwood are running through the pouring rain, trying to get the attention of a man driving a tractor. They finally succeed.)

    Withnail: "Are you the farmer?"
    Marwood: "Stop SAYING that, Withnail, of COURSE he's the fucking farmer!!!"

  11. Ah, W&I, Marcheline, what an unalloyed joy that film is, and offers a quote for every occasion. Particularly fond of "We have come on holiday by mistake", and "I am making up TIME!" And "Monty, you terrible c*^+!" which has to be saved for extraspecially important occasions as it is still so shocking to many...

  12. Such lovely and funny comments; thank you all.


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