Those politicians... always on holiday: Eric Pickles's American road trip with a difference
British students taking cardboard cutout of Local Communities and Government Secretary around the States
Eric Pickles is on a road trip around the USA. Which, for a devotee of the English countryside and a champion of localism, is an unusual step - but then, the Secretary of State for Local Communities and Government never fails to surprise.
He has been photographed sunbathing in Crawfordville, Florida (fully dressed: he's no fool), snapped striding past bikini-wearers on Miami Beach, briefcase firmly tucked under arm), and was recently seen standing strong on Atlantic beach next to a Union Flag. (No surprise there: Eric Pickles loves flags. Supporters will be delighted to see that his enthusiasm stretches past St George's Day and well into August.) Oh, and he popped up in Olustee Battlefield, standing on some artillery from Civil War times.
He has the look of a man who means business, unflappable in any setting. And well he might, because he's been doing his tour as a near-life size cardboard cut-out of himself, courtesy of university students James Johnson (Oxford) and Daniel Falvey (Nottingham), both 21, who have taken it upon themselves to cart him around America this month. Both Conservative voters, they claim to genuinely admire Pickles: “He has a lot of gravitas, and he's a funny man,” Johnson says, on the phone from Florida. “What better way to spice up our American road trip than bringing along the man himself?”
The boys say there's an extremely good chance the Right Honourable MP doesn't even know about this profile-raising activity - unless under that bluff earthy exterior is actually a PR whizz who wants to break America. He's certainly received a lot of attention from people who were unaware of his celebrity. “All the Americans ask who it is,” says Johnson, “and, when they find out, some are a bit baffled and others find it hilarious. It's a great way to bond with people. People want photos with it and want to know more. It's a great way of getting us interacting with the locals. It's a talking point.”
So the novelty of wielding their paper friend isn't wearing thin yet? “We're one week into five weeks, and he's coming all the way,” he says. “He's coming to Vegas, which is our last stop.” Keep up to date with their picklesroadtrip.com blog to find out if he's a high roller.
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 4 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 5 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
The City of the Monkey God: Archaeologists claim to have found city lost for 1,000 years in remote Honduran jungle
Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
London property boom built on dirty money
Becky Watts: Stepbrother and his girlfriend named locally as two arrested on suspicion of murder
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...
£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...
£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...
£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Administrator is requ...