UNOFFICIAL AGENDA Today: White Band Day. Saturday: Live8 concerts in London, Paris, Philadelphia, Rome, Berlin, Moscow, Johannesburg, Barrie, Tokyo; Africa Calling in Cornwall. Make Poverty History march, Edinburgh. Sunday 3 July: Alternative G8 Summit, Edinburgh. Wednesday 6 July: "Final Push" concert, Murrayfield; march to gates of Gleneagles hotel
No one could accuse the G8 leaders, particularly President George Bush, of not knowing how to make an entrance. For weeks, the Scottish press have been obsessed with the understandably shadowy security arrangements. Two thousand marines are said to be on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Ayrshire, ready to secure Prestwick airport when Airforce One touches down. From there, Mr Bush will be whisked by helicopter to the Gleneagles hotel in Perthshire.
As each VIP arrives, roads and railways around Prestwick will be "locked down" for half an hour. A fleet of Galaxy transport planes is said to have been flown in containing armoured cars in which to convey some of the summiteers.
Scotland has never seen anything like it. All police leave has been cancelled for the duration of the meeting: more than 10,000 will be in attendance. In Edinburgh, the Scottish Parliament has been cordoned off. Around the 850-acre Gleneagles estate itself, a 10,000 panel, hi-tech "wall-of-steel", complete with closed-circuit television has been erected. In nearby Auchterarder, locals talk of anti-aircraft missiles on the golf course and a £500,000 bolthole for the US president to flee to in case of emergency. More prosaically, a school is closing a week early so that it can house the police, while the A823 and A834 have been closed for security and to provide "accommodation modules" for security and support staff.
None of this comes cheap (the Gleneagles G8 logo cost £40,000 alone, while off-setting the summit's carbon emissions would come to £50,000). But it's hard to say quite how large the total bill is. The widely touted figure of £100m has been denied by Scotland's First Minister, Jack McConnell; beyond that he has been, perhaps understandably, evasive.
The Foreign Office is picking up the £10m tab for the core event, and the Treasury is contributing £20m towards policing. Other costs will be paid by Scottish taxpayers, most of whom had little desire to play host even before the scare stories about protesters blocking roads with burning lorries.
Once installed at Gleneagles hotel, the G8 leaders can expect to forget the chaos. It is unlikely that Mr Bush will find time to enjoy the £5.9m golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, the spa with its two-swimming pools, the falconry, clay-pigeon shooting or aerobics dance studio. And as a reformed alcoholic, he is unlikely to have a need of the seven sommeliers or the 1990 Krug Clos du Mesnil champagne at £695 a bottle. But if he can get over the fact that the hotel, built by the Caledonian railway company in 1924, is modelled on a French château, he should find the 600 staff provide for his every whim.
The Government has declined to comment on who will get which of the 16 suites, but Mr Bush is likely to bag the grandest, the Royal Lochnagar room (£1,600 a night to you). "Restful soft greens, gold and terracotta colours, silks and fine wool, polished wood and leather glow softly," says the hotel's website, "while from its many windows there are stunning views across the Gleneagles estate to the rolling skyline of the Ochil Hills." George and Laura may also be grateful for the tea- and coffee-making facilities, terry-towel bathrobes and top-of-the-range Statesman Corby trouser press.
The food may please Jacques Chirac more than Mr Bush. Gleneagles has four restaurants, but by far the grandest is Andrew Fairlie's Michelin-starred establishment, which describes its cuisine as "unashamedly French but with a Scottish twist". Much of its produce is flown in from the Rungis market in Paris.
Mr Fairlie, who has recently recovered from an operation to remove a brain tumour, is not allowed to reveal the menu. However, for the Wednesday-night banquet, hosted by the Queen, he is likely to cook his signature lobster dish, which involves smoking the shells over old whisky barrels for up to 12 hours. (Buckingham Palace strongly denied a report that Cherie Blair had asked for the crustacean to be removed from the menu because she doesn't like it.)
At £60 a head for three courses without wine, a meal at Fairlie's restaurant is not cheap, but by London standards it represents value for money. That hasn't stopped protesters pointing out the irony of holding such a dinner at a summit whose priority is meant to be Third World poverty. At Gleneagles, one website noted, even the price of a bottle of mineral water is £3.95 or "about half a week's wages for a Nicaraguan factory worker".
Still, look at the luxury another way: at least somebody's getting pleasure from this jamboree. Nine months after the Genoa G8 in 2001, there was a 20 per cent fall in the local birth rate. Make of that what you will. But it seems to suggest that, for those of us outside the "ring of steel", the G8 will always be irredeemably unsexy.
PRIME MINISTER, UK, 52
Will try to forget Iraq and rebrand as Saviour of Africa. Faces tough time with Bush on climate change, debt relief and trade. Possible tension withpost-constitution-row Chirac.
PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES, 58
Opposes any large increase in aid not linked to US's own 'good governance' criteria. Will fight anything other than voluntary measures to curb greenhouse gases.
PRIME MINISTER, ITALY, 68
Always aligns with Bush and Blair. Will support Blair on Africa and climate change. But recession-hit Italy will struggle to meet EU/UN target on aid.
PRIME MINISTER, CANADA, 66
If he commits to 0.7% of GDP to foreign aid that will put the spotlight on the US and Japan to follow suit. Bob Geldof calls this Canada's unique opportunity.
PRESIDENT, FRANCE, 72
Wants to go beyond debt and aid, push for air levy and references to Kyoto/consensus on climate change. G8 a stepping stone to UN in September.
CHANCELLOR, GERMANY, 61
Expect no major initiatives from this lame-duck leader awaiting elections. Will probably stick to existing timetable of development aid to Africa.
PRIME MINISTER, JAPAN, 63
Likely to raise N Korea's nuclear programme, and Japan's UN Security Council ambition. Has said will double aid to Africa and support climate change.
PRESIDENT, RUSSIA, 52
Backs Blair (mildly) on Africa and climate change. May use Africa debate to push debt relief for ex-Soviet states. Has met his main aim – that Russia counts.
Jose Manuel Barroso
COMMISSIONER, EU, 49
Blair ally who will back agenda for Africa and climate change. May try to smooth EU crisis.
The other players
POP STAR AND ACTIVIST, 50
Former frontman of the Boomtown Rats, creator of Live Aid in 1985 andhighly vocal driving force behind the Live8 campaign. Geldof will be seen both at Hyde Park tomorrow and at Edinburgh next Wednesday.
Britain's leading screenwriter has done much to promote Make Poverty History. His TV film, The Girl in the Cafe, made millions of BBC viewers aware of the issues surrounding G8. Curtis has also been involved in films to be shown at Live8.
DEBT-RELIEF CAMPAIGNER, 58
Director of the Jubilee 2000 campaign for debt relief and of Advocacy International, associate at the New Economics Foundation and a prime mover behind Make Poverty History. Led G8 protests in 1998.
UK POLICY HEAD, ACTIONAID, 37
Will be one of the main spokespeople for ActionAid – perhaps the most vociferous charity supporting Make Poverty History. Its "Get On Board" bus recently crossed Africa on the way to Downing Street.
CLOWN PROTEST GROUP
The Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army is one group whose protests may be more colourful than the summit. Group comprises "real, trained clowns".
Profiles by Anne Penketh and Ruben Andersson