Convention Diary: Men from Auntie show their backs to the hall

WATCHING media commentators in television booths is a favourite pastime for delegates bored with speeches and anxious to see their favourite newscasters in the flesh. Few eyes turn, though, to the BBC eyrie in the outfield of the Houston Astrodome. Not many here would recognise David Dimbleby and Gavin Esler anyway. Even if they did, they might have wondered whether the duo were actually live specimens, or wax dummies sent over by Auntie just to impress.

After sitting through Monday night's proceedings with backs to the hall, the two finally turned their heads just for a second to catch a glimpse of Ronald Reagan's arrival on stage. Then, curiosity satisfied, back to Madame Tussaud's.

THE writing press, accommodated behind tiered desks either side of the podium, was agog not just for Ronnie but also for right-wing rabble-rouser, Pat Buchanan, who provided so much copy with his primaries challenge to George Bush.

But when Pat was getting into his stride, accusing the Democrats of cross- dressing to seem like moderates when they are really still liberals, the mighty pens of the New Yorker and New Republic found themselves distracted by other allusions to smut. Somebody had just found the latest issue of the New York Post with revelations of Woody Allen's love affair with Soon-Yi, the adopted daughter of Allen's long-time partner, Mia Farrow.

THE Astrodome - home of the Astros baseball team - is not the half of it. Attached are two more vast exhibition spaces, the Astrohall and the Astroarena.

The first houses a virtual media city, with working areas for the 15,000 journalists assigned to the convention. The second offers food and a series of exhibitions under the name, The American Spirit.

Appropriately, this is a free-enterprise extravaganza with corporate stands occupied by the likes of General Motors and a company called Limbs For Love, which makes artificial body parts. Helping to model the products are young children with missing arms and legs.

UNDER the same roof are several acres of souvenir and memento stands selling all kinds of political whatnots from tacky Republican keyrings to dollars 500 ( pounds 250) golf bags embroidered with the Convention insignia. Appealing to the super-patriots in town - and there is no shortage of them - one stall offers huge Stars-and- Stripes flags and even collapsible, alumunium flagpoles ready for planting in the front garden back home.

More curious is a stand taken by the Saturday Evening Post Society offering free prostate cancer examinations for hypochondriac male delegates in a barely private area cordoned off by curtains.

THE appearance of Mr Buchanan, whose yearning for racial purity is often only barely disguised, brought wrath from a Jewish group assembled in an area barricaded off specially for protestors a third of a mile from the dome.

Wearing concentration-camp pyjamas and yellow stars, they carried placards with the message, 'Shame On You President Bush For Inviting The Indefensible Buchanan.' On Monday, a march by 1,000 gay activists ended in confrontation with the police. The burning of effigies and chants of '150,000 dead, off with George Bush's head' was too much for officers, who broke it up with batons and horses.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world