I am in West Palm Beach in Florida this week trying to take a break. It’s not easy in the days of the Internet as I find problems pursue you wherever you are. At least I have the consolation that the phone calls and messages from home tend to stop at one o’clock because of the time difference. If I really had the self-discipline I could turn my phone off but then inevitably something really important would come up. I think I preferred telegrams. Remember them ?
Still here I am in Trumpland. He’s back from Asia and basking in the respect the Donald thinks he was shown by such figures as Vladimir Putin and President Duterte of the Philippines, and must regard returning home to the United States as very tiresome. Here there are checks and balances to theoretically curtail his potentially irrational behaviour. Oh how he must wish he were Putin, free to crack the whip and pocket lots of change. Good heavens he could probably order people to stay in his hotels and spend money in his golf clubs. Then to get a little perspective on things, the banner headline in the Palm Beach Post on Thursday was “Will Trump’s return snarl traffic” ? El Presidente is likely to spend Thanksgiving at Mar-a-Lago his Palm Beach Club which he grandiosely calls “ the Winter White House”. That’s the joint where he likes to eat chocolate cake with world leaders. I travel home next week and I just hope I don’t get caught up in the President’s wake.
My real attention this week has been focused on Zimbabwe and what looks like the last chapter in Robert Mugabe’s tyrannical rule. His avaricious wife, Grace, nicknamed Gucci because of her expensive shopping habits, also looks like she’s for the chop. One of the stranger episodes of my life was when I was last in Zimbabwe in 1970. I had been working in an Anglican Mission in South Africa and was on my way home. I had the bizarre experience of having lunch with the then President of Rhodesia Clifford Dupont. He was the second person to sign the Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Britain in 1965. I sat in the dining room of the Presidential Palace having lunch with him and his wife hoping that he would not enquire in too much detail what I had been doing in South Africa. In essence I had been breaking the law on a regular basis attempting to do my small bit to help the Zulu nation and at the time had a black girlfriend which was illegal during the apartheid regime. Believe me, it was a surreal experience and sometimes, like other episodes in my life, I have to pinch myself so that I know it really happened.