The Mustard Seed

G7 Summit 2021 held in Cornwall, UK (photo) | Taghribnews (TNA)

Today is Sunday June 13th. Kia ora katoa.

Last night we went to see a  film at the Embassy Theatre, the opening film of the French Film Festival. Although it’s a large cinema, it was difficult to find a parking space, and there were lots of people there, forcing us to sit way up high. The Embassy doesn’t have a hand rail, and the stairs just seemed to go on for ever. The ice creams were weird, too – not the usual selection. But we got ourselves safely seated in the folding seats before the movie started.

The film was Antoinette in the Cevennes, a charming movie, starring one of the women in the series Call My Agent. There was beautiful French countryside; and the heroine was on set for much of the film. Despite some plot holes, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The elderly audience seemed to too, although it was quite racy in places.

Afterwards, we ate in town, and again marvelled at the crowds of people, and at being able to do this. I enjoyed a mocktail – Peach Burlesque, and afterwards we shared Affogato, with Tia Maria liqueur. It was just right.  I enjoyed this so much – seeing an entrancing movie, and having something nice to eat afterwards. I hope to go to other French Film Festival offerings during the next few days.

In Cornwall, in England, there has been a meeting of the G7, hosted by the ever-disheveled Boris Johnson.  This is President Biden’s first overseas trip, and he seems to be handling it with aplomb. At least he is charming, decent, and doesn’t do embarrassing things! No one can make fun of him except late night comedy hosts, and you get the feeling they really like him, too. He meets with Putin after this summit  – Putin is pointedly not invited, although Trump wanted him to be included ( the G8 became the G7 after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine). There have been some interesting moments, including Biden’s warm embrace of French President Emanuel Macron, to the discomfiture of Boris Johnson; Macron’s wife, despite her age, looks very chic compared to Carrie Symonds; and Biden’s statement that he will say some things to Putin “That I want him to know”. There has been some criticism from the US of Biden’s granting Putin the honour of a face to face meeting, but Biden has let it be known that he’s firmly in control; and, by the way, there won’t be a joint press conference afterwards: instead, Biden will give a press conference.

There have been various issues with the getting to the meetings in Cornwall: cicadas, “mizzle”, and the scariest, an outbreak of Covid 19 at an hotel that was supposed to host the large press following. Oh, and a policeman diagnosed positive, and now two companions are self-isolating. This is scary stuff. The Indian Delta variant is causing an alarming number of new cases of Covid 19 in England, and deaths have climbed again, too. The famous June reopening, when the last of the Covid 19 restrictions were to be lifted on 21 June, is now in serious doubt, with many advising it should be extended for four weeks. It does seem that Johnson has taken a very casual approach to the Covid 19 pandemic.  His approach has been very Trump-like, but in an English way. Let’s hope Cornwall doesn’t become known as a super spreader event, and that President Biden stays well. No one wants the Vice President to take over, right now.

The Cornwall summit has provided an opportunity for The Royals to meet President Biden and his wife, Dr Jill Biden. The Americans, as is their way, have not been as restrained as the English. Dr Jill Biden and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, visited a school together. Dr Biden asked if she would comment on the birth of her niece. This, I thought, was a brave question, and what was Kate to say?  “I can’t wait to meet her”, she said, an eminently gracious and appropriate reply. The point has been made that the Royal Family has continued to treat the Sussexes far more graciously than Meghan has treated her own family.  In these situations, one kind of longs for Archie and Lily to become teenagers, and rebel against their (in)famous parents. That’s when one gets over feeling rather sorry for them.  One can’t help pointing out that the Royal Family is rather more functional, in its way, than the Markle family. And whatever happened to Doria Raglan? Can we all do without her, now?

The Netflix series the Crown, despite its beautiful dresses and jewellery, has been quite unkind to the Royals for their maintenance of the English stiff upper lip and lack of showing emotion.  That may well be true, but they behave with great dignity and Royal functions are always handled really well. Maintaining the myth is important to gushing commoners, but the Queen, whatever one thinks of her, has done her job of being queen rather well.  Stephen Fry pointed out that British Prime Ministers have an audience with the Queen every week, and that is perhaps something that keeps some of them grounded. After Diana’s tragic death, William and Catherine have certainly given us all something to be proud of. When reality spills into these private lives the results can be distressing, indeed.

Back in the US of A, things are weird. The Republican Party is in a really strange place. Can democracy survive? The Democrats have a very narrow majority in the Senate, but Joe Manchin seems determined to stymie Democratic progress. Meanwhile, who can argue with the infrastructure proposal? Everyone, it seems. Goodness knows, their infrastructure, once great, is now no longer great. When we last went overseas in 2016, Americans marvelled at how advanced Dubai and European countries were compared to America. One would like to leave them to their endless wrangling and reasons for not doing things that make sense, but it’s actually really important who’s in charge there. Trump’s tenure affected us all, not just Americans. The thought of his being in power again, by whatever means, is truly terrifying. Mind you, one can probably ignore US politics for a time, and they’ll still be having the same old arguments. Republicans are crazy, Democrats shouldn’t let their Progressive base control the Party; former Republicans cannot agree with Democratic moves, and so on and so on. One thing most agree on: they want to have a democratic government, whatever that means to them. I don’t think that everyone realises that while many states are making it far harder for people to vote, the officials controlling the results can change them if they don’t like them! If this can happen, the difficulties in casting your vote, knowing that it has a greater likelihood of being irrelevant lead to a very disturbing scenario.

It’s now Monday June 14th.

It transpires that the Bidens took tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle. There was a Guard of Honour inspection, which the Queen wisely left Joe to inspect on his own. After the shenanigans of the former guy traipsing all over the place, usually in front of HM, she was wise not to risk that again. In the official photograph, Dr Jill managed to look frumpy (which HM did not, although I don’t always admire her dress sense). Biden, perhaps unwisely, spoke of what they had discussed.

This afternoon I saw another picture from the French Film Festival, A Big Hit, about an actor working with prisoners to produce Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Suffice to say this play, while challenging, is a great choice, and the guys do it very well, in the end, which is not to underrate how difficult it is. I enjoyed this film, and especially the Haka rendition of Ka Mate, Ka mate.

The weather here is cloudy  and showery, but not as cold as it has been. We still wait for our Covid 19 vaccines. While the delays are a bit frustrating, it seems the government has not been totally straightforward about the statements it has issued.  It really doesn’t matter; over in Victoria, they have just had a lock down for a few days, and cases of Covid 19 have reduced accordingly – just one new case today of community transmission. Ngā mihi.

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