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Goodbye George, Hello Barack

Today is a big day for America (and much of the rest of the western world) as President elect Obama finally takes office and tries to put right the wrongs bequeathed to him by the media’s favourite Presidential clown George W Bush. We are all used to seeing articles like this one – ‘The top 20 Gaffes by GW Bush’

Photo: Robert Scarth/Flickr

Photo: Robert Scarth/Flickr

It has to be said President Obama hasn’t got off to a flier in the PR department. Having muffed his lines in the swearing in ceremony, (he had to do it again in the White House map room the same evening), and it has since emerged that the string quartet who played at his inauguration were faking it, and had recorded the piece 2 days before!

We can expect massive Obama coverage in the UK press in the weeks to come as his every move is put under the  microscope even more than it has been already, and as it is a tricky job for a new President to understand the British, we thought we’d do our bit to enlighten him.

Back in 1981, the following pithy (but now slightly dated) explanation of the British was offered in Anton Powell’s book ‘Londonwalks’. Aimed at educating US visitors on Britain’s social structure, it split the country up into the various newspapers published in the UK and went like this:

“The Financial Times is read by the people who own the country; The Times by the people who run the country. The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country; The Guardian by liberals who think they run the country. The Daily Telegraph is run by people who used to run the country; the Daily Express by people who want the Queen to run the country. The Daily Mirror is read by people who want the unions to run the country; The Morning Star is read by people who want another country to run the country, and The Sun is read by people who don’t care who runs the country so long as she has a great cleavage”.

I’m not sure President Obama would be any the wiser for it.

Curious facts

Francis Scott Key, a lawyer from Georgetown, wrote the words to the United States’ national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, after watching the defence of Fort McHenry at the Battle of Baltimore in 1814. You can hear a rendition of it by Whitney Houston at the 1991 Superbowl here too.