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An American Interlude

This column will not be refreshed for a couple of
weeks.  Tomorrow, M and I are off to the United States,
where access to a computer will be difficult. 

It wouldn’t be difficult if I really tried, and had
the technical competence, or the will, to overcome the problem, but I suspect I
will be busy renewing old acquaintances, lest they be forgot, and driving
interminable distances in that cause, to various bucolic corners of New
England.  It will be our first visit for
over two years, the longest time either of us has ever been absent from my
adopted homeland, and M’s native land.

No doubt, I will be returning with various
observations about the country which, if one believes what one reads in the
British press, is suffering the agonies of economic decline, self-doubt and
political confusion.  These days, every
American, of whatever political persuasion, seems to have an unusually
trenchant view of America’s
position in the world.  American confidence
is said to have been severely undermined by economic crisis.  All I can say is, Join the Club.  Britain
is hardly flush with money or pride, despite the temporary uplift from the
Olympic Games, and Europe continues to
struggle with fiscal and identity problems of its own.  Even China is struggling, as its
overheated economy falters.        

We finish the trip in New York
City, where we plan to visit the so-called Ground Zero site
downtown, the former location of the World
Trade Center,
where we both worked for many years – I had an office in Tower 1, M in Tower
2.  The area has been wonderfully
transformed, I am told.  We shall see.  I approach the prospect with hope, but also a
sense of dread that is hard to articulate. 

A presidential election looms, and we expect to hear
some startlingly disparate views on the respective virtues and faults of Obama
and Romney.  We have lost at least one
friend, who seems to have fallen hook, line and sinker for the Tea Party’s
loony blandishments about Obama’s birthplace – hence his right to be president
– and his religion.        

How sad it is, at a time of economic hardship, that
the political agenda seems to be dominated as much by such ancillary issues as
religious conviction, abortion and the rights of gay citizens to marry, as by
economic renewal.

Anyway, cheerio for now, and more anon.

 

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