It just so happens that our baby daughter’s very first trip abroad coincides with that of her partial counterpart Donald Trump. I would venture that so far hers has been more successful on a number of fronts.
Her itinerary is less ambitious than Trump’s. Instead of Riyadh, Jerusalem, Rome and Brussels, we’re playing safe with London and Sheffield, and instead of exasperated world leaders she’s meeting friends and family. The level of excitement in one single household in Sheffield right now is far greater than it is in the whole of Belgium for Trump’s visit. To be fair one does have to pity those who’ve always dreamt of meeting the US President and are then faced with the prospect of humouring someone who thinks he’s won top prize in an amaaazing reality TV show and who would struggle to remember the colour of the White House. Trump knows at some level that he is ‘President’ but has no idea what that means beyond the fact that he gets more ice-cream than anyone else and can bomb or sack anyone who annoys him (or, more realistically, whoever Steve Bannon tells him to). As for our daughter, the fact that she is thankfully even cuter in real life than media reports (well, photos) means that no one has yet expressed any disappointment or anger at her presence.
Journey. Despite months of anxiety about the possibility of her destroying several hours of the lives of total strangers, our trip from Rome Ciampino to London Stansted was trouble-free. Obviously she travelled by Ryanair rather than Air Force One, but the difference doesn’t mean as much to her as it presumably would to Trump. We did however actually almost miss the plane, but that’s because I was so busy showing her and my Portuguese off to some Brazilians we didn’t notice that there were two planes departing for the same destination 15 minutes apart. The biggest tantrum was also my doing, as I didn’t react in a particularly grown-up fashion to the refusal of the vending machine to dispense me either a Snickers or the €2 I’d just paid for it. Unlike on Trump’s journey to Saudi Arabia, no one spent the entire flight screaming at other passengers about leaks, and luckily there were no physical leaks, which may, conversely, not be true of the US President.
Entourage. Our daughter is travelling with her parents and some carefully selected playthings, as opposed to a ragbag of white supremacists, arms dealers and leading members of secretive Hungarian far-right organisations. The toys themselves seem to get along reasonably well, with no backstabbing and nothing you could call nepotism. Mr Gweenery is not currently under suspicion of setting up a sweetheart hotel-building deal with leading members of the Chinese central comittee. At least, not as far as we know.
Travelling. Our daughter has no understanding of where she is. Cities and planes are totally unfamiliar concepts, mere adult abstractions. It’s just more world stuff, which happily contains a continuing supply of nappies, cuddles and milky-wilky. Intriguingly, she does not seem to connect transport with movement, shifting in time with travelling in space. To his credit, at least Trump seems to have understood that he was in the Middle East at some point. Mind you, his world is just an endless array of blandly opulent hotel interiors with gold fittings, with steak and ketchup permanently on the menu, Fox News always on the TV and just the occasional diaper to hand just in case.
Tiredness. Just like the US President, such a gruelling schedule for someone of her age has caused occasional bouts of mental and physical exhaustion. I’d like to apologise to anyone in or near the Moroccan restaurant in Exmouth Market around 2.40pm yesterday afternoon, and anyone on or in the vicinity of the 16.32 from Farringdon to Sutton on the same day. Luckily she is denied access to social media so she can’t share her meltdowns with the wider world. I suspect that White House staff would find it much easier to deal with her than with the manchild they’re supposed to be nursing.
Reception. At every stage of her foreign trip she’s largely been greeted with goodwill, even delight. She hasn’t been confronted with any protests, nor would one expect a four-month-year old to be. There are no photos in which someone’s looking at her as though she’s an utterly insufferable creature. I think this Pope might actually be very good with children.
Result of trip. The world is not a significantly less stable place as direct consequence of her visit to the UK. She hasn’t conducted any major arms deals with extremely dangeous countries (that’s the sort of thing that new parents have to watch out for). At the same time, she hasn’t learnt anything about terrorism, the Holocaust or Climate Change, but then neither, to be fair did President Trump on his trip.