Trials and tribulations of a Rocky metropolis

When a provincial city like Denver - however spectacular its mountain backdrop or its urban renewal programme - is chosen to host a high-flying international gathering, it is supposed to feel honoured and privileged. Not so this Mid-Western metropolis on the edge of the Rockies, whose welcoming banners and general interest in the event are the least conspicuous I have seen in a good few years of such meetings. No, so far as Denver is concerned, the world's seven richest nations, plus Russia, should feel honoured to be here.

The city has only just managed to squeeze them in between two of this year's biggest American legal cases: the trial of Timothy McVeigh for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing (which ended a week ago with McVeigh sentenced to death) and crucial developments that are expected imminently in a case that has all America panting for its slightest nuance.

On Christmas Eve, a six-year-old girl by the name of JonBenet Ramsey was found dead in the cellar of the family house near Boulder, Colorado, just up the road from here. JonBenet was a child beauty queen and the daughter of a former Miss America. Despite a battery of tests, no-one has been arrested. JonBenet's parents have been questioned, but not charged. A report on the test results was reportedly delivered to the police on Thursday, but details have not been released. The suspicion is that the authorities are waiting until all we G7 reporters leave Denver, lest we race up to Boulder and leave the world's leaders to consort in private. Note to Denver hoteliers: Don't worry, we'll be back for the trial.

Critics of Euro-extravagance will be delighted to learn that the only delegation not to travel to Denver by private plane was the observer delegation from the European Union - specifically, from the Netherlands, which currently holds the EU presidency. We passengers on United Airlines flight 1731 from Washington DC to Denver on Thursday afternoon were intrigued to be asked "one extra favour" as we touched down.

Would we please remain seated for "a few more minutes" because "We do have the Dutch delegation on board with their 17 secret service agents". This posed a number of questions. While rejoicing to see that the Dutch were prepared to mix it with the rest of us (up to a point - the three ministers were in first class), 17 secret servicemen for a delegation of three seemed generous. My neighbour, a Mid-Western lawyer, was more forthright. "Why did we need to know?" he asked. "We could have told someone." Indeed we could. Each row of seats was equipped with a phone and fulsome encouragement to use it. "Why not: check voice-mail/call the office/phone the kids?" it flashed before us. Note the American priorities.

Talking of the secret service, the US administration will understandably not say how many of its employees have been assigned to Denver for this weekend, but the locals guess that it is about half the country's total strength of 2,100. They claim to see them lurking everywhere, and for a quiet city like Denver with one of the lower urban crime rates in the US they are doubtless pretty obvious. The consolation is that with the Russians now on "our" side and the Chinese allegedly paying millions into President Clinton's re-election fund, leaving Washington uncovered may be a good deal less risky than it used to be.

It's strange what host cities think reporters need. The press centre at Denver has a hairdressing/barber's salon in one corner of the press hall. Even the French - who hosted last year's summit in Lyon - did not consider giving us a haircut: a little foie gras, by all means, a decent Beaujolais, of course, but not a haircut. They understood what the Americans will never understand: Europeans and Japanese would prefer not to be coiffed in the full view of their colleagues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory