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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Put away the sausage, Angela isn’t coming for tea

Rumour had it for a while that Cumbria would host the leaders of eight of the world’s most powerful nations for a little lakeside jolly next year.

Pause for sharp intake of breath. Longer pause for holding breath till face turns blue – now, exhale, breathe, relax.

As tends to happen with rumours, this one was a bit wide of the mark.

Or to put it another way... wrong.

Nice while it lasted though. Kind of exciting, in a quirky, novelty kind of way.

Possibilities of interesting things happening seemed endless, for as long as the story circulated.

Disappointingly, we now know no possibility is endless and tittle-tattle is about as reliable as my banking on a Lotto jackpot win tomorrow and investing a million or two in a 17th century Tuscan villa.

Not safe at all, in fact. Dead duck territory. Dreams that once were woven turned into legs that were pulled.

But the crack was that David Cameron, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel – among others – would descend on Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel, on the banks of Ullswater, for the G8 Summit next summer.

Well, of course it sounds silly now. But maybe, just maybe, stranger things have happened. Elton John once came to Brunton Park. How daft could a G8 sing-song be?

Goodness knows where the story started. Not at Sharrow Bay, obviously. The good folks there know who has booked ahead and – let’s be right about this – no Cumbrian hotelier in his or her right mind would take a forward booking and credit card deposit from an Italian leader, whose name can’t be called to mind immediately, except it’s clearly not the one who might be going to jail... or not.

We now know that the big-shots will be heading for the Lough Erne golf resort, near Enniskillen, County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland.

Appropriate entourages, camp followers and paparazzi will be right behind them. Generously, we must hope they all have a lovely time, without having to worry too much about what they might be missing in Pooley Bridge.

I reckon the golf part of the Northern Ireland package deal clinched it. David Cameron has already cautioned he might have trouble keeping President Obama off the golf course – he being partial to playing a round whenever he gets the chance. There’s lunching and talking shop to be done.

Smart money is on Angela Merkel sorting out that little workaday difficulty. Angela doesn’t strike me as a woman to be messed with – not even by a superpower with a five iron.

But all generosity notwithstanding, it seems a bit of a shame, eh?

It might have been a treat to have the eyes of the western world focused on Ullswater’s shores, as its great leaders dined under starry Cumbrian summer skies, tucking into second helpings of sticky toffee pudding – all charged to Angela’s bill, of course.

It could have been fun to have seen them yomping around Rheged – the world’s most glamorous cave – picking up gifts to take home. Souvenirs of Cumbria – sausage for the Merkel household, a stylish cagoule for Sam Cam and damson gin for Vladimir’s folks.

But as it turned out in the end, none of that was to be. The dream is over, as John Lennon once said.

Guinness, not Jennings, will be enjoyed by the VIPs. Golf, not gurning, their sport of choice. And while one has to say, that will be their loss, they – being politicians – will never admit it to anyone beyond their nearest and dearest.

Perhaps too much eager anticipation was invested in flimsy rumour. Maybe tenterhooks were too readily dusted off for reuse.

Could well be those of us who wanted something to happen, willed a bit of stardust to fall on Cumbria for too long a time.

It was all a bit foolish really. We, who turned willing ears to rumoured whispers of elevation to global greatness, have ended up with egg on our faces.

But that’s OK. We don’t mind too much.

This being a Sharrow Bay story of global greatness, our eggy faces are of the benedict and coddled kind. Classy see?

You can take the PM and his chums to Northern Ireland – but you can never take the class out of Cumbria.

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