The St Catherines School auditorium was packed with political enthusiasts waiting for the interview with the BBC Washington correspondent Gary O’Donoghue.
We were only two minutes in before President Trump was mentioned. The special relationship between the UK and the US in Trump’s eyes was helped with us leaving the EU. Although Gary did say it is very hard explaining to everyone in the US that we haven’t actually left yet…
The next term or election in the US will be key to the political landscape. Names to be aware of are Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and of course Trump himself. The encumbancy carries force although there is a feeling that Trump may simply get bored.
How serious is the Muller investigation for Trump, and the answer was not necessarily the Russian collusion, but more importantly the obstruction of justice by firing the Head of the FBI.
The constant turnaround of Advisors and the ability to second guess Trump’s thinking makes for constant instability.
Understanding the gun culture in the US and the 2Nd amendment is hard for us in the UK. The beliefs for the right to own a gun are engrained. A constitutional amendment will not happen. However awareness since the Las Vegas mass shooting rose to 40% and then more recently with Florida to 50%. There have been and will be more changes around gun control.
“Black lives matter” has been amplified by social media however statistically there is much disparity with length of life still in the US.
The US is polarised on so many fronts, whether it be north/south, black/white, Democrats/Republicans…the list goes on.
Gary was asked how he coped with his blindness in regard to his job. He admitted to falling off 3 train platforms but was still here to tell the tale. He wore down many girlfriends in the early days by getting them to read press cuttings out loud. He is now very liberated by the use of his iPhone.
He explained how he started as a freelancer for the BBC through a friend of his fathers. Commitment and new ideas are the ingredients to being a successful journalist.
How does living as a blind person in the US compare to the UK. In the US you can plug in headphones to cashpoints in the UK you rely on honesty and kindness. Gary showed his notepad which he described as his 2nd right arm.
Cane or Guide Dog is evidently like the marmite question to a blind person. Gary favours cane at this stage in his life, with his job and travel.
Before we led into the numerous questions – Gary introduced the charity for the retiring fund – Clear Vision. The books are for sighted and unsighted individuals so the joy of reading can be shared by both at the same moment in time.
Gary said that politicians in general aim to “simplify and exaggerate” and he certainly as a journalist demystified for the audience the US, The White House, Washington and being blind. It was a privilege to be a member of the audience.