Friday, 16 March 2012

No sweep could be grander

"Through the grand sweep of history, through all its twists and turns, there is one constant: the rock-solid alliance behind the US and the UK. The reason is simple. We stand together and we work together and we bleed together and we fall together in good times and bad, because when we feel our nations are secure, our people are more prosperous, the world is a safer and better and more just place."

Barack Obama, in the presence of David Cameron, 2012

"Good evening, I have recently been traveling round the world, on your behalf, and at your expense, visiting some of the chaps with whom I hope to be shaping your future.  I went first to Germany, and there I spoke with the German Foreign Minister, Herr. . .  Herr and there, and we exchanged many frank words in our respective languages, so precious little came of that in the way of understanding.  I would, however, emphasise, that the little that did come of it was indeed truly precious.  I then went on to America, and there I had talks with the young, vigorous President of that great country, and danced with his very lovely lady wife.  We talked of many things, including Great Britain’s position in the world as some kind of honest broker.  I agreed with him when he said that no nation could be more honest, and he agreed with me when I chaffed him and said that no nation could be broker. This type of genial, statesmanlike banter often went on late into the night...

"When I was abroad, I was very moved to receive letters from people in acute distress from all over the country. And one in particular from an old age pensioner in Fife is indelibly printed on my memory. Let me read it to you. It reads, ‘Dear Prime Minister, I am an old age pensioner in Fife, living on a fixed income of some two pounds, seven shillings a week. This is not enough. What do you and the Conservative Party propose to do about it.’ (tears up letter) Well, let me say straightaway, Mrs McFarlane, as one Scottish old age pensioner to another, be of good cheer. There are many people in this country today who are far worse off than yourself. And it is the policy of the Conservative Party to see that this position is maintained."

Harold Macmillan, as envisaged by Peter Cook, 1962

One feels that Cook-as-Macmillan might be writing the scripts of government spokespersons today.

The newspaper USA Today, in reporting on the Camerons' visit to Washington, apparently described Mrs Cameron as a 'fetching British aristocrat'. At least Peter Cook's Harold Macmillan was more accurate in his description of the then First Lady.

Macmillan took no offence at Peter Cook's sketch and himself attended one of the Beyond the Fringe performances in London. Cook, in his way, returned the compliment, claiming to hold Macmillan in affectionate regard: 'I was a great Macmillan Fan.' Richard Ingrams described Cook's political views as 'Conservative anarchist'.

The young, vigorous Peter Cook