Well Mr. Trump has started out exactly as he promised his supporters he would. Why this has caught the world by surprise is, well, surprising. He is not a subtle man. Nor does that river seem to run to any depth. He blurts something out and then uses blunt force to make it happen. Yet, a mere week into his presidency, his travel ban sent the world into a frenzy. Chaos everywhere. More placards and protests. More defiance, on both sides. So, are we truly at the beginning of the end? And is all this anger productive or simply self-indulgent? I ask these questions honestly, because we are living in a time that demands DEMANDS that everyone we know think the same way we do. It is a time when “news” from Huffington Post and Buzzfeed is considered to be of equal value, if not more so, to that of well established periodicals. Discourse and discussion have gone the way of leaded gasoline. To disagree is tantamount to treachery of the highest order. Disheartening. But the new world order. And not limited to the United States. One only need listen to the current Brexit debates in and outside the Commons….yikes, plenty of bullying and scare-mongering going round there too. This is not to say I agree with any of the current administrations. But, I am not sure I believe everything coming out of the opposition either. Hysteria abounds. It is time for thought, but we live in a world of instant reaction. So what to do? I have absolutely no idea. But I know what I like, and what I value, and that often the timing in my life is exquisitely sweet.
Several days ago, my gorgeous friend Sara, British of Iranian heritage, got the “gang” together, meaning the art crazy group that often winds up together at art shows and fairs. This includes Iranians, Russians, English and us, the Americans. What a fabulous collection. About a year ago, I started calling it my CIA watchlist group, and joked that if Trump got elected I might be in trouble….hmmm.
The gathering, by coincidence, happened on the same day that Trump announced his ban on all people from 7 countries, including Somalia. For many long hours, it appeared the Somali born British citizen , athlete supreme SIR Mo Farah wasn’t going to be able to return to his family in Oregon. This man is a national treasure. The Home Office, and public opinion, went into melt-down. The ban also includes Iran. And so it was ALL the talk on the night. My Iranian friends are a sophisticated and well travelled bunch. LA is a particular favourite destination, as well as Miami, New York…all the great US cities. Suddenly…no more. Shocking, even if he had warned it was coming.
It was then, sitting on the couches in Home House, a ridiculously fabulous private club in central London, surrounded by Iranian beauties, that I realized I had inadvertently staged my own little anti-Trump protest. Not with shouting and banners, but with wine and friendship. Trump is a tee-totaller. Which is fine, admirable even. But he is also a control freak and so no one around him may drink either. Ever. Wine flowed at Home House. So did the conversation. I love interesting people who have had totally different tastes and experiences from me. It is the way to learn things, explore things, my curiousity is boundless. Samey samey doesn’t make me feel safe, it just bores me. I am rarely bored. And it was a fantastic night.
Then another bit of delicious serendipity, today on Radio 4’s Midweek was the world renowned, Nigerian born, British psychiatrist, Head of Psychiatry at Birmingham University, Professor Femi Oyebode. He is also a poet. He shared a snippet from a poem about voting in Britain: “I voted without delight, and was able without tension. My neighbours were fond of me. This was England…” When Libby Purves, the host, suggested this relaxed attitude was no longer true, he chuckled that we still had a way to go to match the election violence to be found in Africa or Latin America. The right to protest without fear, something to be grateful for, certainly. But it was his next poem that really got me thinking about the night. A Love Supreme, named after jazz saxophonist John Coltrane’s great album of the same name. The poem begins with the lines: “5 accents over dinner, flickered between candlelight and sipped light white wine, between the pauses of discourses.”
There were more than 5 accents in our little group alone, too many to count in the whole of Home House. Of the pictures our men took of us that night, I especially love the one on the couch. It wasn’t until I saw it in a larger format that I realized how tightly I am gripping the arm of Mobina, in an awful, stalky, obsessive sort of way. I had a good laugh at myself. And then re-worked it in my brain. I wasn’t being possessive so much as making a statement. THIS is my friend. I don’t care which passport she carries or the politics she subscribes to or the accent she speaks with. My friend. ALL of these are my friends. And I intend to continue to meet, engage with and befriend people from all over, regardless of country of origin.
More than 5 accents sipping white wine. How sweet it is. This wonderful, multi-cultural city of London, where raising a glass of wine to such a toast is as easy as…well…..raising a glass of wine with friends. My own private protest. Take that Mr. Trump.