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I know these are petty points, but...

...about two thirds of you who answered the previous poll didn't have the faintest notion what I was on about.

A relatively sympathetic article revealing the answer is here. The Guardian, God bless them, are spinning this story as the British rightwing press being outraged for the sake of outrage.

But I'm afraid this is part of a pattern in the last few days: Hillary Clinton presented her Russian opposite number, Sergei Lavrov, with a gag "Reset" button which had the word "reset" in both English and Russian. Except that the Russian for "reset" was a) spelt wrong and b) in the wrong alphabet anyway.

Come on guys. I was overjoyed when you won; please pay attention to the tiny details. They matter.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 11th, 2009 08:00 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid I don't see what's so wrong about the DVD set as a present; it's not quite as creative as the penholder, but it's certainly an American gift, and it's useful and entertaining!

(I may be in Canada but I still read U.S. press; I didn't see the slightest mention of the gift exchange in the news, so I don't feel bad that I didn't have the faintest notion of what you were on about. It's hardly earth-shattering news that I should be ashamed I missed).
Mar. 11th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
It seems to me the sort of gift you give someone when you have to buy a present for them but you really have no idea (or interest) in what they would like to get. It's not bad in itself, it's just when balanced against a pen holder carved from the timbers of the HMS Gannet and a first edition of Gilbert's biography of Winston Churchill, it's not quite the same...

(I must say this, with its numerous grammatical mistakes, did not much reassure me.)
Mar. 11th, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
This seems a matter of perspective, and the individuals involved. I know *I* would vastly prefer a DVD collection (even that one, which has relatively few movies in it I want) to a pen holder and/or biography. Pen holder? I suppose for a politician it may be very different, but from my point of view that falls in the "retirement watch" category -- "Dear lord, what the hell am I going to DO with this? Maybe I can sell it on Ebay". (that's for a pen holder as you describe, in which I presume the HMS Gannet is a very significant object and thus the pen holder gains significance therefrom. A pen holder in a generic sense would be on the level of a gift of socks at Christmas).

Mar. 11th, 2009 09:27 pm (UTC)
After the refit was complete, the Gannet was assigned to the Mediterranean as an anti-slaver. HMS Gannet is somewhat significant, yes.

Edited at 2009-03-11 09:28 pm (UTC)
Mar. 11th, 2009 10:27 pm (UTC)
I presumed there was some significance to it, or no one would have mentioned the name.
Mar. 12th, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC)
Though it's also somewhat of a "he's black, so let's give him something to remind him of our glorious past as a enslavin^wanti-slavery nation"... present.
Mar. 11th, 2009 09:47 pm (UTC)
The thing is, it's not about you as the 'recipient'. Brown isn't even allowed to take the DVDs for himself, unless he pays market price for them. And why would he, when he can get a better price from Amazon?

I don't know how the USA handles diplomatic gifts, but I assume that ornament and first edition will go to the furnishings of the White House, passing to the use of each president. If presidents can keep it, then I imagine they will eventually wind up in the Obama Library.

Still, if it's not appreciated, then we know we can save our government a lot of civil servants' expensive time when he visits the UK, and just send out a junior staff member to buy a WalMart gift voucher :-)
Mar. 11th, 2009 10:26 pm (UTC)
If it wasn't about the recipient, then NHW's comment about not having any interest or attention about what the recipient wants is, well, irrelevant?

If it's about the White House (i.e., the Office of President), then it's still a rather... odd gift. I mean, is it really likely that there aren't already about five dozen pen holders in the White House?

It's possible there ISN'T a copy of Churchill's biography already there, but given the history involved I'd kinda doubt that too.

So I guess my puzzlement is... if you're gonna give a gift, why not actually give one that's going to be used? (if it's just gonna sit there, find some priceless work of art to give, since those *are* just supposed to sit there). Or maybe we could exchange forgiveness of debts, tariffs, or whatever would be country-related good.
Mar. 11th, 2009 08:05 pm (UTC)
At least he didn't give him socks
Mar. 11th, 2009 08:08 pm (UTC)
I found the spokesman's remarks more significant, who said the US's relationship with Britain was no more significant than that with the one-hundred-and-ninety-odd other countries.

Not that I disagree, but I think right now would be the perfect time to end our disgraceful involvement with the occupation of Iraq, and when the Americans complain, invite them to get their janissary troops from the hundred and ninety other countries.
Mar. 11th, 2009 08:49 pm (UTC)
Wait...the "reset" button thing was REAL? I thought that had to be from The Onion or something.

Mar. 11th, 2009 09:32 pm (UTC)
While some of us may or may not like a DVD set, it strikes me that it should be obvious to the 'leaders of the free world' and their employ that gift exchanges are not a politeness for people in their positions, but a political statement.
While we were hinting at things like solidarity and a sense of historical worth, I'm not sure what a bunch of DVD's anyone could pick up from Amazon says about America, other than that we are not worth their bother.
Mar. 12th, 2009 08:07 am (UTC)
Indeed. And the misspelt Russian word on the "Reset" button says that America probably isn't serious about that policy either.
Mar. 11th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
5Live had told me it was a boxed set of some DVDs - not 25 of the best movies ever!
Mar. 11th, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC)
This just wasn't the biggest news going on in the world in my book, even though I read it, and what the relationship was to your list of movies passed me by.

Of course, it's not like the Obamas can keep anything of value given to them anyway - I can't figure out why anyone would even make the effort when most of it just gets given back to the Smithsonian.

You sure there wasn't some more important world news happening at the same time, or the next day, or in the last week, that you wouldn't be prouder of having us remember?
Mar. 12th, 2009 12:01 am (UTC)
Wow! That is appallingly crass! Why not just give Putin a nice set of tennis balls? That has historical precedent at least. Still remember this is the same Clinton that after a touching scene in NI where the President was addressed by two children, one Catholic and one Protestant flew the cute little Catholic girl out to Washington for Patrick's Day I think it was and totally forgot about the slightly older and less 'awww!' Protestant boy until he had missed the party. Never underestimate the potential for crassness.
Mar. 12th, 2009 04:14 am (UTC)
A relatively pointless kerfluffle. It's not like America has a tradition of understanding other cultures well enough to present gifts and positions that reflect a subtle understanding of that other culture.
Mar. 16th, 2009 03:32 pm (UTC)
I only realised recently that as soon as the Taoiseach of the day has presented the U.S. President with the St. Patrick's day Waterford Crystal bowl of shamrock, the shamrock are destroyed under health regulations and the bowl is consigned to the standard pile of gifts.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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