Wish they all could be Mississippi girls; The Diary

New Orleans

WE ARE still getting over the holidays here. The events of New Year's Eve did not bode well. They rarely do in , given the time-honoured tradition of firing one's pistol into the air at the stroke of midnight. Ordinarily, only residents get killed or wounded, but four years ago a Yankee tourist was watching the fireworks when a falling bullet struck her and killed her.

Tourism is basically the only business in town, so the city fathers suddenly got serious about preventing this particular method of celebrating. This year the local paper reported the triumphant news that 1998 had "the second- fewest number of falling bullets since 1994". I am desperate to know how they can possibly keep count, but it was all a bit beside the point. A barge carrying the fireworks blew up, killing two people and leaving a third critically injured.

Not that the week or so before had been so hot. First, as the world now knows, the President was impeached, an historic event that Clinton later told his friends wasn't really any big deal. The White House staged what was billed as a "pep rally" on the lawn. All the House Democrats were bused over from the Capitol, presumably to provide the pep. It's a wonder that they didn't all start shooting guns into the air.

Earlier that same day Louisiana's favourite son, the newly elected Speaker of the House, Bob Livingston, resigned, due to the fact that Larry Flynt was about to reveal in Hustler magazine that Livingston had had several extra-marital affairs. He doesn't seem too bothered either. Last Thursday, the day Livingston was to have been sworn in to an office that would have put him third in line to the presidency, he told a reporter that he was "very fortunate. I got my health and I got my family and I expect to make a goodly sum of change." That is certainly swell news for Bob, but meanwhile, as usual, Louisiana isn't faring so well. The former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke has already declared that he is running for Livingston's seat in order "to defend the rights of Christian Whites".

NATURALLY, the weather went as crazy as everything else. On Christmas Eve, a devastating ice storm hit the Mississippi Delta where my friend McGee and I were heading off to our respective childhood homes. When we left it was raining so hard a friend called to warn us against "y'all's usual rolling wine and cheese party" we stage to make the five- hour drive more bearable. After four hours we couldn't stand it, and McGee stopped off to buy a half pint of Courvoisier. It was a good thing, since immediately upon arrival in the Delta, the usual family resentments surfaced. "That is so typical of my mother," McGee said when we pulled up in front of her pitch dark house. "She didn't bother to leave a single light on for me." I pointed out there was indeed light in the house, but it was coming from candles - the storm had knocked out the electricity.

There were lights at my house, but the national air of cynicism had infected even the tiny tots. On Christmas morning my two-year-old niece hurled herself into my room at 6:45 to announce that Santa had arrived. When I said I was so happy he'd made it down the chimney she gave me a blank stare. So I proceeded to explain in an absurdly sing-songy voice all about how the reindeer fly Santa in his sleigh, and they land on the roof, and then Santa comes down with his big bag of toys. She looked at me again, not blankly, but as though I were an idiot: "That is so stupid."

TRENT LOTT, the majority leader of the Senate, and the man with the thankless task of guiding Clinton's impeachment trial, also spent the holidays in Mississippi. I have known Lott for twenty-five years and I can vouch that he has an almost pathological need for order.

Once, I interviewed him at his home, and in the space of a mere ten minutes he got up to brush a speck of dirt off a chair across the other side of the room from where he was sitting, he dropped to his knees to blot up a drop (literally) of spilt coffee from the rug, he went outside to chastise the lawn service for trimming the flower beds too far back from the grass, and he trimmed his own fingernails with a pair of clippers he pulled from his pocket. Finally, after he'd tried at great length to right a plant that was wobbling in its basket, his wife said: "Trent, leave the plant alone," and he said: "I can't."

On Tuesday I appeared on the CNBC political shout show Hardball and blew as hard as the rest of the panel. I would have been better off lifting the quotes that my own father, referred to as "the dean" of the Southern Republican party, gave to the New York Times and the Washington Post: "Chaos is not Trent's thing" and "Frankly, I'm confused my own self as to which way to raise hell". On Wednesday a television reporter called to ask me if it were possible that Lott could be on Larry Flynt's peccadilloes list. Certainly not, I said, that's way too messy. But, rejoined the reporter, he has such beautiful girls working in his office. All the girls in Mississippi are beautiful, I replied - "Ole Miss," otherwise the University of Mississippi and Lott's alma mater, claims to have provided the country with more Miss Americas than any other university.

I'm actually beginning to feel sorry for Lott. True to his neatnik instincts, he tried to short-circuit a drawn-out trial, but almost every Senator in his party jumped all over him. Now we may have to listen to Monica Lewinsky testify, and what's worse, to a ludicrous Clinton defence that the White House floated last week.

In arguing that he did not lie in his grand jury testimony - Monica says he touched her while he says he didn't - his lawyers may rely on intent. Okay, he may have touched her there, they will admit, but he didn't do it in order to arouse her or to get anything back, so it still doesn't fit the definition of sex.

Let me now beat the scriptwriters for Jay Leno and David Letterman to the punch in "quoting" Bill: "Hey, how was I to know? When I touched Hillary nothing happened." It may possibly work, but I reckon that at this point flying reindeer are infinitely more believable.

News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
News
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea was left red faced but, thankfully, unhurt after taking a few too many steps backwards, sending her tumbling off the stage.
peopleIggy Azalea was left red faced but apparently unhurt after taking a few too many steps backwards
News
newsComedian Lee Hurst started trend with first tweet using the hashtag
News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
A nearly completed RoboThespian robot inside the Engineered Arts workshop is tested in Penryn, England. The Cornish company, operating from an industrial unit near Falmouth, is the world's only maker of commercially available life sized humanoid robots
techSuper-intelligent robots could decide destroying the human race is the kindest thing to do
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Extras
indybest

Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Software Developer (Java /C# Programmer)- London

    £30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...

    Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

    £65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

    Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

    £70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

    Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

    £60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

    Day In a Page

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition