03 November 2009

Class act

A few years ago Roger Grimes took a royal roasting for telling an off-colour joke at a small, private gathering of business people in New York. 

It was inappropriate, to put it mildly.

That’s why it so nice to see the decorum Grimes’ successor has brought to the office as he welcomed the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall yesterday in St. John’s.

This came shortly after a plug  - completely out of place - for the Danny Dam, by the by:

Hopefully your experience will be contrary to the experience of Sir Winston Churchill who when asked if he had any complaints after his tour of the United States in the 1930s said, and I quote him, “the toilet paper was too thin and the newspapers were too fat.”

Yes, there is nothing like a Royal Visit to make a joke about the ‘loo.  And if the thing is broadcast live on national television, so much the better.

Don’t even bother with the fact that the quote is only attributed to Sir Winston.

The rest of the speech is about Hisself, of course.  His time at Oxford.  Miniskirts.  Popular music from the mid 1960s.  And his staff, fish and chips and Coronation Street. 

Incidentally, the applause at the front end of the speech might have to do with the fact that the relatively small crowd in the venue (600 out of a seating capacity 10 times that) was crammed full of the governing party’s caucus and staffers.

His capper for the crapper speech – of course – was a half-story about the naming of the stadium, something Hisself said he had done.  Mile One was the half of the tale he told.  What Hisself didn’t say is the name he wanted but everyone else rejected.

The applause was restrained, even for such a loyal and faithful audience.

It all makes you wonder who is writing speeches for Hisself these days.    This one was about as cliche-laden, stereotyped and – as the quote shows – as grossly inappropriate as can be imagined.  He’s been known to deliver the odd clunker or six, including one in Toronto where his flat tone must have had his security detail making sure to keep an eye on the sharp objects and the high ledges.  Then there was the mess from the now legendary January 5, 2004 speech.  

But this one?  Makes you wonder what the Governor General and HRH, the Prince of Wales tittered over immediately after the Churchill “joke”. 

At least if Hisself didn’t write it they can correct the problem by finding someone who can write speeches for the next one.  You see,  speech-writing is like a lot of things:  you are usually better off not doing it yourself.  Experience counts.

The speech also stood in stark contrast to the other two, one by the Prime Minister and the other by the Prince of Wales which were light in tone and charming in content.  And lookit, if Stephen Harper – one of the worst speech readers even to live at 24 Sussex Drive  - comes off sounding better than you do, you know you are doing something wrong.