I am not a particularly great fan of the Bush Administration by any means so when the second most powerful person in America, Condoleezza Rice, came to visit the most isolated city in the world it raised an eyebrow.
However, being a news junkie there was no way I was going to miss this golden opportunity of grabbing a photo of Condie. I was hoping for Colin Powell, but Condie would do!
As it so happened her trip coincided with my usual Friday horror workout at Jacobs Ladder just near to where she was going to lay a wreath. so I decided to take my camera with me (just in case). As fate would have it as I drove to the torture stairs that morning there was her entourage causing chaos in Mt Lawley. Imagine my surprise to discover she was sipping coffee at “Cino to Go” my local cafe. I could have saved myself the trouble and snapped her right there and then. However I thought better of tackling the secret service and continued. The day was
not particularly kind, light drizzle and a biting cold but despite this (and the fact I was in my sweaty workout gear) I decided to head up to Kings Park. I was just hoping my unusual attire and sweaty appearance wouldn’t catch the eye of the secret service. I had just watched the movie, Vantage Point, so I was sure I was a candidate for being monitored. And sure enough within minutes of my arrival at the war memorial a policeman spotted me and came walking over. I was politely asked to leave the area as sniffer dogs were about to arrive (I didn’t think I smelt that bad!). I took my position behind the ropes and amused myself by watching the secret servicemen. I am sure they felt embarrassed acting cool and important in front of about fifty onlookers and sweaty me. I was distracted from my secret service watching briefly, when a light plane flew over the War Memorial with a banner saying ” Condoleezza –
Macedonians welcome you here”. I wasn’t quite sure what that all meant so I went back to my Secret Service watching, spotting one frolicking in the scrubs.
The entourage arrived quickly and without much warning. Condie slipped out of the white car and down the stairs of the War Memorial within a blink of an eye. I am guessing, as she walked tentatively on the slippery surface, she was kicking herself for wearing high heels. The diggers who had been out in the cold for a least an hour stood to attention, the Last Post was played and the Lest We Forget Ode was spoken. But the most impressive and most moving part of the ceremony was the wreath laying, thanks to Condoleezza.
With wreath in hand she climbed the steps, placed the ring
of flowers, read the inscription, bowed her head and took several minutes praying. It felt like ages that her solitary figure, with head bowed, stood dwarfed by the huge obelisk. It was quite extraordinary, and I went away thinking that would be the image I would forever associate with her.Oh yeah and sipping a cup of coffee at Cino’s in Mt Lawley. That’s just weird, Condoleezza Rice in Mt Lawley doesn’t make sense. But her simple and sincere act in front of our War Memorial was pretty humbling.
Poor thing was then dragged behind the war memorial to the waiting media, giving her little time to soak in the magnificent view. Then it was up the hill in high heels for a press conference. Yippee, she must just love unofficial visits. Just before being whisked off in her bullet proof limo to her private plane, she had a photo with a group of bewildered school kids who pulled faces and giggled. By the time I had made it home, she was gone.