Having promised to cut back on City Hall spending for the myriad cultural events that spawned under Ken Livingstone — and marking his words by cancelling the Rise festival and slashing the budget for Pride and St Patrick's Day — Boris Johnson has now produced £75,000 out of his rumpled suit pocket to fund an event celebrating the culture of his homeland, the United States of America.
"USA Day", as it's already been dubbed, will happen this October, to coincide with another NFL fixture at Wembley in the autumn. Though details of what the day will provide in the way of entertainment are sketchy, we're envisioning a troupe of cheerleaders serenading the Queen, liberal servings of buffalo wings and blueberry pancakes, and Sarah Palin being feted on a ticker-tape parade down the Mall. Or maybe the fruits of American cultural imperialism will run a 'shock and awe' campaign on our native industries. Just imagine it: cinemas filled with Hollywood hits, American music blaring across the airwaves, the schedules a-shlock with Stateside television shows. One can barely imagine what such a world would look like.
The Mayor's Americophilia is nothing new: last year he flew out to New York (economy class, no less — one of his '100 achievements') to promote the capital, and has opined in the past on the 2008 presidential election. The word from City Hall is that the new event should help attract affluent American tourists to come and spend their greenbacks in London — something they already do in large numbers, so it's difficult to see why a £75,000 event celebrating their mother country would entice them to hop the Atlantic. Don't they come to see quaint British customs, admire St Paul's and Madame Tussauds, and gawp at the state of English teeth?