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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Edward Kennedy (1932-2009)

Some time in the late 80s I was in Washington, DC for work. In those days you could visit all the main sites of the capital, including The White House, without any great security hoo-ha. A colleague and I went to the Capitol, had the tour and then decided to drop in on The Senate, which was in session. I remember climbing many stairs and then being admitted to a gallery looking down on the Senate floor. The chairman was there plus a bunch of pages, lobbyists and functionaries. A debate was going on between two senators. Hardly anyone else was in the place. One was Jesse Helms, legendary Republican from North Carolina. The other was Edward Kennedy, legendary Democrat from Massachusetts. Just occasionally, your timing turns out to be perfect.


  1. It just seems so much more democratic in America. One Veterans Day, I found myself at Arlington Cemetery and watched Bill Clinton make a speech to the old soldiers; in Britain, I'd need to be a posho with an invite. Marvellous.

  2. Yes, it's all very democratic here. Until you try to get decent healthcare, then the country turns into a corporate oligarchy.

  3. I'm not sure this incident proves anything about democracy. Both countries are democracies. Back then it was always harder to get near the centres of power in the UK because there was a long history of people trying to kill prime ministers and blow up institutions. Once the same thing happened in America on 9/11 the shutters came down in a big way and show no sign of being raised. Michelle Obama visited the school across the way from my office a few months ago and nobody got even so much as a wave.

  4. Paul K4:08 pm

    I remember when I was a child walking down Downing Street - then those gates were put up at the end of the road. At the time, I seem to remember the (Labour) opposition saying it was Thatcherite triumphalism - but I don't see them rushing to take them down...

  5. Marchpines8:38 am

    I remember being taken to London as a 10 year old for the Scotland England football match and standing directly outside Number 10 in my Scotland top chatting away to the policeman on duty about our chances (he was right, we were hammered) - a moment very unlikely to be available for future young uns.

  6. For all his significance, I still think initially of Griff Rhys-Jones taking the piss on NTNO'CN whenever Ted Kennedy's name comes up.