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David Horton Headshot

Toad Hall restored

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I was trying to think what it reminded me of, seeing Barack and Michelle, Joe and Jill, entering the White House after the inauguration. And then it came to me - "Wind in the Willows". You will recall that Toad Hall has been taken over by the bad stoats, weasels, and ferrets, a truly evil crew who wreck the joint. Then, as Wikipedia puts it "Badger, Rat, Mole and Toad enter Toad Hall via a secret entrance and drive away the intruders".

Mr Obama gave a speech full of so many good things, good things in every sentence, that it seems churlish to cavil, but I was struck by the phrase "We will not apologise for our way of life", which at first hearing had an awful resonance with Bush - "The American way of life is not negotiable".

A great deal of the world might well think that consuming such a disproportionate share of the resources and producing such a large volume of greenhouse gas might well require an apology and a promise of action. And indeed he offered a kind of apology in "nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect". So I think his "way of life", unlike Bush's, is more to do with values, and ideals, and democracy, and freedom of speech, and secular government, and the rights of women and minority groups, and the rule of law, and all the rest, but it still jarred, for a moment. As did "the knowledge that God calls on us", which is a theory or hypothesis, shared with many other nations throughout the world, and throughout history, not a truism to go unremarked.

But The Watermelon Blog appreciated the call out to "non-believers" which rather balanced the "God with us" sentiment, and especially appreciated "We will restore science to its rightful place". That's what you can do once you get rid of the stoats and weasels.

So at the Watermelon Blog we welcome Mr Obama as he leads America back to the Enlightenment world, in spite of my concern that here we have the first president whose age is almost the same as his presidential number. I remember when presidents were my grandfather's age, then when they were like father figures, then, all too soon they were people I might have gone to school with, and now, heaven help me, the first one only old enough to be my son. Either presidents are getting younger or I am getting older.