Bananas and custard
Alarm goes off at 4.15am. I have to get to Docklands by 7 to get through security and everything. I wonder if Barack Obama started his day with a 5am banana in Princes Risborough station car park.
My six year old son has told me to make sure I bump into the US President. He wants me to say ‘excuse me, Barack. Just wanted to say (pause to adopt wild west cowboy pose and accent): hi!’ Meanwhile my seven year old daughter reminds me that if I see Obama’s trousers fall down, I need to say ‘Barack (the accent again): your pants have fallen down.’ Top tips.
Truth is I am highly unlikely to see the President at all, except on the big screens in the bloggers and press area. We will be breathing the same ExCel Centre circulated air, but the chances of me coming face to face with Barack Obama – let alone catching him with his pants down – are slightly lower than the odds of the G20 leaders making a cameo appearance in the Grand Designs exhibition happening next door. (Actually that could be good. Meet Barack, Gordon and Nicolas. They’ve decided to knock down their old world order and build a completely new one. They’re going for a modern feel, lots of sunlight, very green. But they can’t seem to agree on the detail – and they’re way over their original budget of £200,000 for the build. So far they’ve spent just over $2.5 trillion. Those floor-to-ceiling windows are looking like an expensive luxury.)
Anyway… Good to see the British hosts got through last night’s summit dinner without a ‘look-at-what-they-were-eating-don’t-they-know-there’s-a-recession-on’ scandal. This has been the trap that successive summit hosts have walked into – last summer’s G8 in Japan managed to cook up a ’17-course banquet’ which kept the press happy for days. Not so here. Welsh Lamb with ‘seashore vegetables’ (what’s that? Seaweed?) and Bakewell Tart with Custard for pudding. Oddly the leaders’ spouses ate separately from their (mostly) husbands, though they got the same dishes. Presumably the Foreign Office took so much time and trouble getting the the menu perfectly balanced to avoid both media outrage and diplomatic insult, that when they finally started on the spouses menu they didn’t have the heart for it and just told Jamie Oliver to make double.
Sad to see Aussie PM Kevin Rudd was seated down the far end of the dinner table, some distance from the big shots. Having become his newst biggest fan since hi appearance in St Paul’s Cathedral on Tuesday, I was hoping he would be able to repeat his line (‘don’t shred your aid commitments’) as he asked Sarkozy or Berlusconi to pass the salt.
Those aid commitments have not yet been shredded, but they are looking distinctly ragged. One of the things we were talking about yesterday with the other bloggers is how the poorest countries are casualties of this crisis on so many levels: falling foreign investment, a drop in the remittances that workers overseas send back home to their families, cuts in world prices for their basic commodities, the impact of foreign exchange fluctuations… If ever there were a time they needed the rich world to keep its aid promises, that time is now. An additional 46 million people – the same as the population of Spain – are being thrown into poverty because of this economic crisis. Half of them are children. As world leaders seek to rebuild the global economy, they must build it with those children’s interests at its heart. That will be the test of this G20. Today’s the day.