Sunday, July 31, 2011
Day 23. The Unpublished 'Scoop'
As Hillary Clinton left Vilnius’ Presidential Palace following a Community of Democracies meeting, flanked by her entourage and getting doused in rain, the last thing the watching crowds ever predicted waited to greet her just around the corner.
No, it wasn't hiding amid the greens of the grassy knoll, sporting a shaven scalp and a pocket brimming from buckshot.
Nor was it the beardly bad looks of a fanatical Talibandit.
Hovering close to the curbside like a burnt-out buzzard, I was clutching my camera in apprehensive wait for the Big Shot's appearance. As usual, in Litho-rainy-a, hair slapped against foreheads and umbrellas starfished above the scene, obscuring vision for the dedicated desk-hounds amongst us who were awaiting a possible angle.
The ones who needed something.
Who had nothing.
I had my barrel focused on a miniature sect: A Lithuanian-Canadian family of four, daughter, grandmother, mother and man, who stood on the roadside shaking soggy American flags at the end of the downpour.
Talking to them afterwards, after events transpired as they did, they told how the last thing they ever expected was to be met with hugs and handshakes by one of the world’s most famous women.
But, within minutes, there it was.
Police sirens sounded and Clinton’s motorcade, a convoy of dark four-wheel drives and luxury sedans, pulled out into the cordoned-off road, to take the one-time US presidential hopeful back to her hotel.
The family’s little girl, Cordelia, clutched a bouquet of local wildflowers, plucked with the passion of glittery childhood, as she waved at the passing brigade.
Without more than a signal, the motorcade suddenly braked, and a gaggle of security forces surrounded Clinton as she stepped out on to the Old Town cobblestones, to take the child in her arms, accepting her flowers in feigned grace.
Wriggling into the moshpit of CIA serve-bots and starstricken civilians, the trusty Nikon clicked and whirred seemingly seperate from my control.
After what was no more than two minutes on the footpath, evidently 120 seconds of arduous fret for her bodyguards, Clinton clambered back into the safe haven of her hired hatchback, and the motorcade sped off to their destination.
Cordelia, who grew up in Boston, USA, was glowing, trembling like a trout, though was still, as would a pistol-whipping patriot, shaking her Stars and Stripes.
“It was amazing,” she answered as you'd expect a starry-gazed five year old female to answer, when asked how it was meeting one of her role models, one of her favourites after Harry Potter and her goldfish, Greta.
But so not to drone on like a cynic, they were a happy lot, and it filled me with something akin to humanness (if possible), I guess, to watch them, the family of four, stroll off contented into the purple hued evening.
But there was something about the spontaneity of the whole event which rang out with questions.
What was interesting about Clinton’s sudden stop was how the world’s media were already present: obviously professional photographers standing idly beside the family in wait. The next day, Clinton’s grapple with the girl was plastered all over daily newspapers, and online.
So, was it set up? Was it a pre-planned public relations dig to gain some brownie points so close to American Democratic election time? Did she need it? Or was it, as one would hope to believe, a pang in the heart of a politician at the sight of a real fan and family?
Whatever the case, Clinton’s two day visit to Vilnius heralded some interesting sights and scenes for the locals, as she now jets off to the Mediterranean, to meet with some President or drug-don, or whatever of the Spanish Government, part of a seemingly endless circuit of high-wheeling publicity frenzy.
And as for this guy, the lone shooter, he wandered back to his crazy outpost on the outskirts of oblivion, and removed the tie he bought especially to strangle himself on this special occassion.