19 January, 2009
he's done it
What a completely thrilling afternoon and evening for us here in London, watching our lovely man become President. England is so excited! Europe is thrilled, expectations couldn't be higher. Festivities here started as soon as our little girls came home from school, since Avery's friend Emily was coming with her family to celebrate. They banged on the door in the gathering twilight, "Why didn't you pick us up, your phone doesn't work, we waited in the cold..." all the usual litany of complaints from an afternoon when nothing went quite as planned.
I must explain why we had English friends with us for the inaugural: Emily's family lived for years in Darien, Connecticut, and heartwarmingly, they came away from their years in America with a firm love of all things across the Pond. It was to them that we repaired on Thanksgiving, and it was of them I thought first when I wanted to invite someone to watch the inaugural fun with us. So in they trooped, bearing gifts as always: a plate of luscious brownies, tubs of ice cream. I was putting the finishing touches on my Alderton ham baked in marmalade, and enormous dish of very American macaroni and cheese: the smoothest Raclette in the world forming the basis of the sauce this time.
We watched the oath of office in the living room, on that insanely ridiculous sofa cushion of such drama. Annie and I cried off all our makeup, listening to our new president become so, and speak of his new responsibilities. A remarkable moment, speaking to our enemies: "we will reach out our hand, ready to shake yours if you unclench your fist." Amazing! To hear the president speak of reconciliation, to hear him utter the word "curiosity" as a virtue to be attained by the American people was a very invigorating and touching experience! Things may not be perfect, but there is a new breath, and it feels so good. The BBC describes his speech as embodying "the mixture of hope and realism that he has made his own." How lovely. And when he said that the son of a man who could not have got a seat in a restaurant in America 60 years ago was now taking the highest oath of office in the land, we all felt quite overwhelmed, including the little girls who clapped and clapped. I'm so glad Avery is old enough to understand what happened today.
And dinner: "Oh, no!' I remembered at the last minute. "I meant to make stuffed mushrooms for a first course." Emily's cookery-mad brother and I looked at each other. "Let's do it." We worked feverishly and had a marvellous time producing them and wished instantly that we'd made about four times as many. It is really the best recipe, rich with goats cheese and bacon, shallots and garlic. With a huge salad of rocket and baby beetroot leaves, and a spicy dressing, it was a nice, warming supper. In the background played all the inaugural drama. Avery brought out her first real self-made dessert, a lovely chocolate pot made from a recipe by Mark Hix, and a total success it was.
Altogether a gorgeous evening with such treasured friends, good food though I say it myself, and now, late at night, a chance to breathe and relax. I face a meeting of my writing class first thing in the morning, and feeding them lunch after. Leftover ham, anyone?
Congratulations, America. It has been a fabulous day.