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I was in Westminster on Wednesday to meet a friend who lives nearby, and as I was a bit early I walked down from Leicester Square.  It’ a part of London I know well, and am often in a hurry to get somewhere when I’m there; and it’s very easy to become extremely irritated by all the people taking photos, strolling aimlessly and generally getting in my way.

Instead, I decided to join them, and walked through Admiralty Arch to see The Mall decorated for the State Visit of the Obamas.  It is one of the moments that made me reflect what a beautiful city London can be, and how well it brushes up for the big occasion.

I only had the camera on my phone with me so it’s not a great shot, but I did walk to the middle of the road in rush hour traffic to take it, but more so that I could actually see the overall effect of the flags amid the trees leading up the vista towards the Palace.

I’d caught the end of President Obama’s address at the Palace of Westminster on the television before leaving home; I’d not intended to watch it, but there was something about the manner in which he was speaking that hooked me.  In many ways the message was of ideals rather than plans or ideas, and there was quite a lot to argue with in the post facto justification of the actions in Libya, but he is an incredibly charismatic speaker.

The audience in the hall sat in transfixed silence as he delivered a preacher’s message, full of rhetorical pauses, and carefully cadenced and structured phrasing.

It’s a class act, even if I can’t agree with everything he says, I’m glad there is someone who uses language so well and poetically speaking.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve found myself looking at the photos of the Obamas in the press and admiring what a great looking couple they are.  In group shots Barak Obama’s smile is dazzling, the Queen looks tiny, and Prince Charles rather raddled; Michele Obama looks tall, athletic and elegant and the new Duchess  looks like a fawn stick.

It’s an incredible powerful subliminal message, about image, but I find that I am able to take much more pride in the way the city has hosted this event than in the over the top pageantry of the wedding last month.  Both are symbolic ceremony, but this had less of the heritage soap opera about it.

As an avid fan of The West Wing I was very excited to see a vehicle, presumably for second or third level backup staff, with a ‘FLOTUS’ sign in the window while I was waiting to cross the road, if only to have confirmed that they do actually use that acronym in real life.

I became very ‘method’ in my adoption of the role of tourist and took quite a few photos.

I’m often surprised from how many places it is possible to see the London Eye.

There are always lots of people about staring up at the clock, and instead of ducking out of their way tutting a bit, this time I joined them just as Big Ben was striking 6. (It doesn’t really lean…..)

Only the usual level of security remained by the time I went by.  We’ve become used to all these barriers and obstacles in front of government buildings, and now take them as part of the landscape.

Only the tail end of the press were still colonising College Green (with the obligatory orange suited protesters).

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