I managed to get myself back on the invite list for this year’s annual celebration of American Independence Day, hosted by the United States Consulate in Belfast.And almost predictably, the weather was warm and sunny — there has been a good track record over recent years for fine weather on this day. This event is always a good one for networking, finding familiar faces and getting introduced to new contacts, and today was no different. I even met yer man Jim, local star on the BBC programme, The Apprentice. (Don’t ask me if I asked him if he won; I didn’t ask!)
I had pleasure in introducing Madame Oui to the Consul General, Kamala Lakhdhir, who insisted on giving me “an American hug”.As Madame Oui and I circulated through the crowd, introducing her to various personal and professional acquaintances, she remarked, “It’s interesting to see you do your day job. I see why you enjoy it.” For me, it’s more about strategic survival — how are you going to know who might be able to help you achieve your organisation’s objectives if you don’t get out and talk to people? And yes, it is fun — your job should be fun. At one point, Kamala asked us to pay respect to the playing of the American national anthem. I duly placed my hand over my heart as we all faced the flag on the flagpole. But I glanced and noticed that whoever other Yanks were in attendance didn’t do the same, even the Consul General; I must be a traditionalist! Before we left, we inspected a photograph on the wall inside the residence, of Kamala with President Obama and the First Lady. Kamala appears particularly short, standing in between the two, but almost anyone would, considering how tall Barack and Michelle Obama are. We commiserated with our friend Eva Grossman (Unite Against Hate), who was also photographed recently with the US President and is even shorter than Kamala. Overall, a really enjoyable afternoon. The craic was good.