London. April 2009, some days dark and gloomy, some unremittingly cold, others sunny but not all that warm.
The signage outside my local supermarket announces: "Store open 24 hours a day. Open weekdays 7am-11pm. Sundays 9am-5pm."
I take a train to Gatwick and I eavesdrop on two Saudi businessmen dressed in conservative suits. "Osama is living in the Gulf." I hear one of them say to the other.
I walk south from Tottenham Court Road to Trafalgar Square to attend an anti-War On Terror rally being held to tie in with the Obama visit. I get there about 20 minutes before the marching protestors arrive from the American Embassy. They're mostly young students, healthy and attractive and colourfully dressed. Loud drumming, garish flags of freedom flapping in bright Spring sunshine.
Its outwardly reminiscent of some brave Spanish Civil War scenario. In maybe three minutes the crowd have fanned out all over the Square and occupied the steps in front of the National Gallery.
They're mostly young but the speakers are mainly elderly. Tony Benn, Julie Felix, Bruce Kent. One girl standing near to me shouts, orgasmically, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" every time anyone says anything good about Palestine or bad about Israel.
Its all so tired and so predictable. Even these well meaning people are giving Obama the benefit of the doubt - a benefit he has done very little to deserve.
Joe Ambrose has written 14 books, including Chelsea Hotel Manhattan and The Fenian Reader. Joe is currently working on his next book, Look at Us Now - The Life and Death of Muammar Ghadaffi, which is an expanded version of a story first published in the anthology CUT UP! Visit Joe's website for all the latest info: JoeAmbrose.co.uk.