TV: Obama on HD

Obama swears the oath, originally uploaded by Thoroughly Good.

Technically I should have been in the office during the 56th Inauguration but when I learnt it would be on the BBC HD channel I had to go home and watch it there. I’m glad I did. His inaugural speech was something to behold .. especially on a 50inch HD screen.

In the event that you find yourself speaking to my boss or want to call the BBC, be assured that I will make up the time tomorrow and the next day.

It’s been quite a special day. Now to work President Obama.

Obama’s Inauguration

We don’t have to play the waiting game over here in the UK in the event a new Prime Minister is voted in during a General Election. Votes are cast during the day and counted during the evening. Once the result is known camera crews scour the country looking for a look of despair one of elation.

That’s why Inauguration Day always seems like a ridiculously long way off when the final count is announced and the loser concedes.

When you find yourself – as I did – swept along by that pivotal moment when it was confirmed Obama was the 44th President, then the idea of waiting such a long time before he’s ushered into office seems ridiculous.

And yet that 60 day or so wait has had its effect. It’s provided the big man with the time to get his cabinet in place, get his inauguration speech prepared, get his daughters settled into a school near to the White House and go on a train journey to Washington D.C.

He’s not my President. I didn’t vote for him. I’m not black either, so I don’t feel as though I can lay claim to a share in the inevitable euphoria surrounding his victory. I am, in some senses, merely an observer. This is someone else’s party.

Still, I can’t help looking forward to the event. As much as some commentators, advisers and legislators may want to play down the monumental day Obama’s inauguration, it’s almost impossible not to be affected by what midday on Tuesday 20 January 2008 signals.

Obama will be marking the beginning of his tenure by laying out his vision tomorrow lunchtime. It feels like new year’s eve or an opportunity for a fresh start. We won’t remember anything of today come tomorrow.

Crazy talk. Of course we will. But still I find it difficult to resist not laying down one or two hopes for the future too even if its so I can come back to them in four or eight years time and see if they’ve come good. 

Wars will surely still rage somewhere in the world. There will surely still be poverty somewhere too. But could there be less fear? Could there be more of a feeling of respect for one another? Might world leaders take inspiration from Obama’s oratory and the enthusiasm he has promoted?

If and when it goes wrong for Obama, could we resolve not to strike him down from the extremely high pedestal we’ve currently got him displayed from? And could we – with absolutely no disrespect to the black, mixed race or any other ethnic group come to that – find ourselves in the enviable position in four or eight years time of not thinking it noteworthy to draw attention to the colour of someone’s skin if only so that we’re no longer forced to pigeon hole a person.

If there’s one thing I really wouldn’t mind it would be the latter. Surely the key to equality in the world is not just applauding the fact that someone “different” is in a position we never thought possible, but to be in a position where the perceived difference is of no significance to people at all.

How I heard about Obama’s win


Just like Christmas Day, originally uploaded by Thoroughly Good.

It’s 5.30pm on a dark Wednesday afternoon. The traffic I can see out of my new office window is bumper to tail. It always is. It could be just another normal weekday although unusually for me, I can barely keep my eyes open.

I’ve spent most of the afternoon yawning. My new boss (who I understand went to bed at 10.30 last night) was able to see right into the inside of my mouth. For all I know he did. If he did then I feel a bit embarrassed. It can’t have been a pretty sight. I had red leicester and spring onion mayonnaise in my wholemeal bap today. That and it’s only my third day in the job too.

There is good reason for me being tired. Like many moved by events in America over the past 24 hours, I am an US election victim.

Embarrassingly however, I also ended up going to bed quite early – shortly after the results programme kicked off here in the UK. I was all set to stick with the results process, wanting to share in a moment of potential collective euphoria if and when Barrack Obama but I ended preferring the comfort of a firm mattress, a double duvet and two lovely black cats.

Safely ensconced, I switched on the radio and waited for James Naughtie on Radio 4 to lull me to sleep. As I slowly drifted off, one horrible thought crept into my mind.

I was certain Obama would win. It felt like he would. It felt like he’d won the Presidency of the United States last week, to be honest. I can’t put my finger on exactly why. I just knew it.

But wait … the last time I was thinking like that was when I drifted off to sleep the same night when we waited for the 2004 result? Four years ago I seem to remember being certain George Bush would be ousted.

When I woke up the morning after the 2004 vote, I was a little surprised.

Would the same happen again this time? Did I dare to go to sleep and risk waking up the following morning and experiencing some kind of Groundhog Day thing where the guy I was expecting to win it, failed?

I reached out and patted the thick fur of our larger cat Cromarty, noting the slightly slimmer one – Faero – laying at the foot of the bed keeping watch.

What felt like hours later, the lovely Simon is shaking me by the shoulders. What the hell is he doing? What time is it? Why is he doing this? 

I avoid opening my eyes. I don’t want to wake up. I don’t want to move.  

“He’s won! Obama’s won!”

That’s all I remember now. And if it’s the only thing I remember about today then I’ll definitely always remember today because of it.

Aside from the fact that Obama cut a dashing look on the regal, arc-lit podium from where he gave his victory speech and clearly looks the statesmen, he also inspires when he speaks and makes me feel excited about the future. 

More importantly, at some point in the future the fact that he’s America’s first black President will have passed from being the breathtaking statement that it is and move to becoming par for the course.