G8 Diary: 26/06/2010

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The Independent Online

To celebrate or to grumble? That was the dilemma faced by many Ontarians as their province showed off its best face for visiting leaders and reporters, but the inconveniences of a huge security operation began to bite.

Roughly 19,000 personnel were involved protecting the G8 venue in Huntsville, two and half hours' drive north of Toronto, as well as the site of today's G20 gaggle in Toronto itself. Worries about protests forced as many as nine downtown schools to close yesterday; some shops were boarded up.

In Huntsville, the mood was one of anticipation mixed with irritation. "My business has dropped like a stone since they [the leaders] arrived," said Nate Smith, owner of Surf Paradise, a water sport and apparel store on Huntsville's main street. "Usually this is one of the biggest weeks for me, but a lot of my cottage customers aren't coming up until next week."

David Cameron went for a run first thing yesterday and then dived into the fake lake – in his running shorts. "The hour change means you get up very early," the PM said.

One aide said: "He just fancied it." Apparently, the swim was "perfect" after the run.

The Canadian summit hosts have thought of everything for the media, including hot morning waffles. (There was even a brief bomb scare.) The reporters' desks have been arranged according to nationality and, of course, the British are directly facing the Germans.

The tiny squishy soccer balls they have been handing out, ostensibly to help us manage stress, will soon be flying between us and them in a warm-up for Sunday's big game. As it happens, the British government delegation's office in the press centre is also bang next door to Germany's.

Someone has pinned a German flag to the UK office door. "See you on Sunday," it says. Cameron and Merkel were next to each other at G8, too, and are due to be attending the same G20 working session during the England v Germany match at 10am local time on Sunday. It seems someone will provide them with a couch and a telly.

"There is an idea we might try and watch it together," Cameron said yesterday. "I will try not to wrestle her to the ground during penalties, but we will have to see."

The PM hopes the Germany game does not go to penalties. "I am not sure our hearts can take another [shootout].

Asked how he would react if England won, the PM said: "Are you expecting me to put my shirt over my head and run round the table? I think probably not."

He commiserated with Mr Berlusconi at Italy's exit.

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