We’re all teenagers again

by | Apr 4, 2009

Cute story from the Obama visit: a few Foreign Office staffers picked up that Obama and Brown were going to do their joint press conference on Wednesday in the FCO’s (vast) Locarno Room rather than the smaller room usually used for press conferences at Number 10.  So, obviously, they decide to loiter around the grand staircase to catch a glimpse of the great man as he passes.

Well, the security staff soon cotton on to their little game and usher them away.  A game of cat and mouse proceeds for a few minutes until, in an example of the kind of lateral thinking one looks for from a 21st century ministry of foreign affairs, they hit on the idea of “having a meeting” in a room that just happens to be strategically placed on the way to the Locarno suite.

A long while later, David Miliband passes with Hillary Clinton, who gives them a nice smile and a friendly wave, and this is thought to be pretty cool. 

A further wait ensues. 

Then, at last, Gordon and Barack stride past.

Squeals of delight are stifled. 

And then Obama glances back… catches sight of them… pauses… breaks stride… turns around… and comes in to say hello, while Gordon chuckles indulgently in the corridor. 

Bastards.  Bastards!

(I, on the other hand, spent 15 minutes amidst the crowd of tourists loitering outside the gates to Downing Street later that day, hoping in equal measure to (a) see the Motorcade sweep in, and (b) avoid being caught behaving in this embarrassingly starstruck way by anyone I know. First the motorcade drops the President off in Horseguards Parade, on the other side of the block. And then, two minutes later, a Downing Street foreign policy adviser I know walks past… catches sight of me… pauses… breaks stride… turns around… and asks solicitously: “are you protesting?” Bastard. Bastard!)


  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.

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