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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee