Gifts from Gordon Brown to Barack Obama:
- an ornamental desk pen holder made from the oak timbers of Victorian anti-slavery Naval vessel HMS Gannet;
- framed commission for HMS Resolute, a vessel that came to symbolise Anglo-US peace when it was saved from ice packs by Americans;
- first edition set of the seven-volume classic biography of Churchill by Sir Martin Gilbert.
Barack Obama's gift to Gordon Brown:
- A 25 DVD set of classic American films including ET, Psycho and Lawrence of Arabia (barely American at all of course). The Daily Mail has the whole list.
Gifts to Malia and Sasha Obama:
- a TopShop dress for each of the daughters and matching necklace;
- Six books by British childrens' authors as yet unpublished in the USA;
Gifts to Fraser and John Brown:
- Two models of the Presidential helicopter Marine One, apparently identical to ones available on Amazon.com at US$15 each.
As Iain Martin in the Daily Telegraph says "Oh, give me strength. We do have television and DVD stores on this side of the Atlantic. Even Gordon Brown will have seen those films too often already." Anyone could have compiled that gift given half an hour on Amazon.com or in a major music/DVD shop.
One suggestion is that the DVDs may even be for Region 1 NTSC format for the US, not playable on a standard DVD player in the UK, I wouldn't be surprised.
On the gift to the Browns' children, the Times suggests it was a last minute purchase "having an aide pop to the White House gift shop for a piece of merchandising does not imply a great deal of thought" and more telling that the one official photo showing Sarah Brown and Michelle Obama meeting is hardly flattering, and may indicate how frosty the exchange was.
Of course if Bush had done it, we'd (rightfully) never hear the end of it (such as when Bush gave Brown a jacket)
It's a minor gaffe, but one helluva insult to the United Kingdom and Gordon Brown. Maybe it's because the new US Administration has aides who are thoughtless and unimaginative, but for Obama to accept a series of thoughtful generous gifts from the UK taxpayer and to give something as common and meaningless as a DVD pack is in astonishingly bad taste.