I’ll have what the president’s having

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You don’t need me to tell you it’s been an unconventional convention week. Like most reporters, I covered it from in front of the telly for the first couple of days. The downside was slipping off to bed after filing, with adrenaline still coursing through your veins, when really you wanted to be in a gloomy hotel bar having an ill-advised last bourbon while some policy boor shouts in your ear. The upside was not having to endure that extra bourbon and the policy boor.

And being able to eat what you wanted when you wanted. Not shoveling junk food in your gob because either it was free or it was all you could find open in a country that seems to think dinner time is 5pm.
Until Wednesday. That was the day I packed a little parcel of beef and mustard sandwiches to tuck in my satchel before boarding a minibus to Fort McHenry. If only the press van had been up for a sing-song then it would have felt just like a school trip to the site that inspired the Star Spangled banner after the Royal Navy shelled the fort in 1814.

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He’s ready

The occasion was Mike Pence delivering his acceptance speech. He used the history of the site and the motif of the flag as the threads that held together an attack on Joe Biden for failing to protect the nation’s monuments and values. And there was me feeling like the setting was simply to troll the only Brit in the expanded travel pool (technical term for the reporters covering the VP that night).

Which brings us to Thursday and the big event, President Trump’s set-piece speech formally accepting the party’s nomination for president. As ever logistics are everything. Which found me at the White House about five hours before he was expected to take the stage.

With limited seating, I wanted to plonk my name card on a seat on the south lawn so that I would at least be able to file my story from while balancing my laptop on my, erm, lap. Job done I had time to kill and the nagging fear I would go hungry if I didn’t try to eat before we were called to our seats.

But where is open for dinner at 6pm in downtown DC in the middle of pandemic. When all the businesses that had stayed open through coronavirus were boarding up their doors in expectation of a fresh wave of protests.

McDonald’s, that’s where. And anyway, what better pre-match meal than a double quarter pounder and fries to steel the arteries for a long night. You know it’s what Donald would have wanted.

I plonked myself down on a stone bench inside the White House’s outer security cordon to wolf down the thin, grey patties as a stream of cyclists burned down 17th Street chanting “B-L-M.” They tasted only of ketchup and pickles. Which is kind of all right by me.

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