Golden clouds were hanging low in the late evening light over Blenheim Palace when, much to the surprise of the waiting dignitaries, another one glided out of the Presidential limousine and hovered above its passenger door.
It took a while to work out what was going on, but yes, Donald Trump’s hair really had got out his car before he did.
It may just be the inevitable consequence of a tall man, stepping out of an elevated hummer limo, then pausing for some time before stepping forward. But it may also be that the world’s most enduring tonsorial mystery could in fact be some David Copperfield style illusion, that the man’s hair and body have always been separate entities, held together as an ingeniously reworked version of the old woman sawn in half trick.
But it means that those waiting for a tantalising glimpse of the Leader of the Free World are gifted several long seconds to enjoy the planet’s most famous haircut in perfect isolation. To trace their eyes along its sweeping topiary, to rise and fall over it its soft contours. Viewed entirely on its own, detached from the anthropomorphised gob that lives below it, it clearly resembles the kind of overly ambitious spun sugar project that collapses with devastating effect right at the end of Bake Off: The Professionals.
Theresa May was approaching by this point, wearing a sweeping red ballgown and steep red heels, and looking never more like the just-for-the-lols contestant on Strictly that’s about to taste Youtube immortality via the Argentine tango.
From around 50 metres away, the immediate question was why had the President brought a six foot saffron chrysanthemum with him as a gift, but as he handed it over to a grateful looking Philip May it became quickly apparent it was in fact the First Lady.
Before setting off on his European jolly, the president had remarked on the White House lawn that the UK was in “somewhat turmoil”, a reality that would only have been confirmed to him had he not arrived by helicopter and actually driven past the 400-yard long protest that had assembled on the road up to Blenheim Palace entirely for his benefit.
The protests were more entrepreneurial than angry at first, the most professional looking billboard being the one perched on the back of a pick up truck, and advertising the services of Sherwood Kitchens of nearby Witney.
Nearer the gates a large black and yellow effort screamed “SHITLER GO HOME.” If its designer was annoyed that Donald Trump didn’t drive past, hopefully they will be aware that, as one of the invited British dignitaries, Chris Grayling did, so it was not an entirely wasted effort.
Whoever had taken the trouble to erect a large FREE TOMMY ROBINSON banner, decked out in stars and stripes about 40 miles too far south on the M40 is evidently unaware that presidents of the United States now live in the age of air travel, which will come as a surprise to no one.
People who describe themselves as “protocol experts” for the benefit of the 24 hour news channels have allowed themselves to become deeply confused over quite what this presidential visit is. It’s not a “state visit”, it’s a “working visit”, but it comes with a grand banquet at Churchill’s birthplace, tea with the Queen and a military parade.
It had been assumed this was a compromise to keep everyone happy. Online petition signing Brits can be placated by its official non-state-visithood, while simultaneously the presidential brain might be kept distracted long enough by Her Majesty alongside various men in frocks with trumpets to convince himself it was.
All of which goes a long way towards explaining the otherwise unlikely decision to send Disgraced Former Defence Secretary and, since Monday, Actually Most Experienced Senior Minister In The Government, Liam Fox, to meet the President off the steps of Air Force One at Stansted.
As far as the domestic audience is concerned, what could be a greater slight for a visiting president than to land at Stansted and have Liam Fox waiting for you? This is an indignity so severe it is yet to be dared even with Ryanair passengers.
And yet, as the president placed his foot on the asphalt, he didn’t appear aware he was dealing with anyone more significant than a particularly self-assertive baggage handler.
It’s been said before, but it’s no less true. No one does this stuff like the Brits.
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