The Presidential Inauguration / Inauguration Diary: In tune with the times

BILL CLINTON ended his last day as a private citizen in church and began inauguration day at prayer. No one can doubt that America's new President, a Baptist, takes worship seriously. After attending the Presidential Gala on Tuesday evening, the new First Family attended a two-hour service at the First Baptist Church of Washington, leaving for a brief night's rest at 1.20am. By 8am yesterday, Mr Clinton was back in the pews at the AME Metropolitan church, close to the White House. But even hallowed walls are not insulated from Clintonmania - the organist had been supplanted for the morning by a saxophone soloist.

OUR NEIGHBOURS, and seemingly half the street, were up and leaving home at 6.30am yesterday to make it to Pennsylvania Avenue in time to find a spot to view the afternoon's inaugural parade. 'We've been living here for 25 years and we've never seen hoopla like this,' said Elder Wellborne. Indeed. Limo-lock downtown reached disaster proportions by mid-morning. The atmosphere, under a dazzling winter sun, felt like Christmas, the Queen's Jubilee and all the birthdays you ever had rolled into one.

ONE MEASURE of the madness was the reaction of the king of excess and glitz himself, Donald Trump. Even in his book the inaugural fete has gone beyond reason. 'It's getting to be a little much,' he is reported to have muttered from his Manhattan penthouse, from where he has refused to stir. Friends told him the capital had become a 'madhouse, an absolute madhouse'. He noted, a little sourly: 'The Bush inaugural was not anything like this in terms of lavishness. The Clinton inaugural is about as big and opulent as you can do. The Democrats seem to enjoy the pomp every bit as much.' So it seems.

A CONFESSION: although the seats at Monday's dress rehearsal for Tuesday's Presidential Gala were meant to be free, your diarist was obliged to pay a scalper dollars 100 for a seat. Guilt passed quickly, however. Tickets for the performance itself, in the company of the First Family-designate (as well as Barry Manilow and assorted stars), changed hands for dollars 3,000. Yesterday, my tout was holding tickets not just for every ball in town but even for the swearing-in itself. Where did he get them all? Mostly from not-so-wealthy Arkansans, forced to fund their week-long stay in town by selling free tickets showered on them as honoured citizens of the hog state.

CONSIDER this, however. So hot was the alternative rock'n'roll ball staged by the rock-video channel MTV last night that one Texas man allegedly offered the organisers dollars 100,000 for a pair of tickets, surpassing the previous record of dollars 15,000. The Texan was apparently serious, but was turned down. Others who pulled all available strings to attend - and be seen to be there - included Thomas McLarty, the new White House Chief of Staff, the model Cindy Crawford and even the African National Congress leader, Nelson Mandela. All this to see Roger Clinton - Bill's half- brother - sing the Sam Cooke classic A Change is Gonna Come.

THIS DIARY reported yesterday that the Oval Office had been emptied of all Mr Bush's executive bric-a-brac. But where was it all going? Not to the Houston hotel suite George and Barbara now call home, surely? Fearless sleuthing has discovered the real destination: the sixth floor of 1726 M Street, Washington DC, where both Mr Bush and Dan Quayle are opening post-administration offices. Nothing remarkable about the location except, that is, for the distinguished company the two gentleman will be able to keep on the floor above. Level seven is occupied, you've guessed it, by us - the Washington bureau of the Independent. They're welcome up for coffee any time.

REMEMBER the cookie competition last summer between Barbara Bush and Hillary Clinton? Well the First Lady's brand are on sale once again as a fast-selling item on the souvenir stands. But the new symbol of America's latest First Family is Socks, Chelsea Clinton's cat. Nobody is quite sure whether she will be taking residence up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue immediately, but her local following is already strong. Issue one of Socks the Cat Newsletter, written for children by children, is a sought-after item among the inaugural crowds. Among its stories is an item about past White House pets. There was Amy Carter's Siamese cat, Misty Malarky Ying Yang, and Susan Ford's Chan, also Siamese. The earliest recorded presidential balls of fun were Teddy Roosevelt's cats, Tom Quartz and Slippers.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Day In a Page

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride