Sunday, 28 September 2008

Some sympathy for Sarah Palin.

You know I do have some sympathy with Sarah Palin....

Many years ago, in another time and place, I was becoming quite the pundit on food issues in the UK. I would be wheeled out to comment on the media whenever another crisis hit the headlines. From Mad Cow Disease to Salmonella in eggs. Up I would pop to represent the farmers point of view.

It was a fascinating experience and I even, dangerously, began to believe that I really did know something about the food industry...

A regular speaker and contributor to agricultural forums and conferences I was highly flattered when a leading Catering magazine asked me to be a speaker at their annual high powered conference in London.

Yup, I thought, I can do that. There was a small warning bell going off deep in the recesses of my brain that tried to tell me that whilst I was on firm ground amidst agricultural politics maybe, just maybe, the politics of the food industry was an area in which I had little direct experience. Possibly, my inner self was saying, it might be a good idea to pass this one by.

You can guess the outcome of that internal discussion! I was young and foolish and certain of myself. Oops!

I admit to being overawed as the chauffeur driven limo whisked me from my rural farmhouse to the bright lights of Park Lane in London and the opulent surroundings of the 5 star Grosvenor House Hotel. Fear began to set in as I realised that the fellow contributors included such luminaries as Michel Boudain, Albert Roux, Raymond le Blanc and other such top class chefs and business men.

My fears lessened as I enjoyed the world class food and wine that goes with hobnobbing with the good and great of the restaurant world.Massive ice sculptures filled with fresh seafood, magnums of the finest champagnes. Sideboards covered in delicious dishes designed to impress some of the greatest chefs in the world. I was having a ball!

The night before my contribution I couldn't sleep. I read through all the notes I had made, realising the massive hole in my knowledge that I was certain was about to be revealed before the world...

The first 20 minutes weren't too bad. It was a pretty hostile audience, farmers and chefs had yet to reach a comfortable working relationship in the fear ridden climate of food scares. But I held my own until the fateful question from the floor, " What do you think of Appellation- controlee, and how can it be implemented in the UK?"

Shit! I knew it was something you find written on the bottom of French wine bottles and that it had something to do with quality... and that was it. I waffled my way through a response. I knew I had done badly, I knew that they knew I didn't know diddly squat about the subject...

I bet Sarah is feeling a little of the same. Without a deep knowledge of the issues there is no way she can wing the probing interviews that are coming her way. It's not something you prepare for overnight. It is a deeply sobering moment.

On one hand its marvelous to think that she is the embodiment of the American Dream, that anyone can be President. On the other hand its a terrifying thought that with the world economy in meltdown and the US reputation abroad in taters the future could be in the hands of somebody with so little experience and lifetime knowledge as Sarah Palin.

There comes a moment in everyone's lives when its important to realise what you don't know! I wonder if next weeks debate will be that moment for Sarah? I don't envy her!

Fox News this morning was offering advice to Palin and Biden on how to approach the debate and their advice to Palin was to stick to her own story which is a good one.

That's not such bad advice " You've got to be what you is, not what you ain't. Cos if you ain't what you is, you is what you ain't."

No comments: