My PM goes to London, and all he gets is a lousy tea towel!March 28th, 2009 - 5:35 pm ICT by IANS
By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, March 28 (IANS) World leaders coming for next week’s Group of 20 (G20) summit in London will be handed a modest gift pack and fed on cheap and simple meals.
It is entirely in keeping with the sombre nature of the occasion - a meeting of the world’s most powerful men and women to find ways to tackle the global financial and economic crisis.
The British premier’s gifts for his guests, who will include Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is reported to be a pretty modest affair.
Gordon Brown will hand over a goody bag that will contain a tie, a candle, chocolates and a tea towel.
However, all the items are specially made or designed - even the tea towel, the Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.
Manmohan Singh doesn’t wear a tie, preferring Nehru jackets to western-style suits, but if he did it could be an item for his wardrobe: the tie will be designed by one of three renowned British tailors Ozwald Boateng, Timothy Everest and Richard James.
The tea towels are by Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen, the Northern Ireland-based world-renowned makers of fine linen.
The meals the visitors are set to be served are widely predicted to be simple affairs - in fact, positively frugal by the standards of G20 summits.
At the last G20 summit, held in Washington last year, then US president George W. Bush served his guests a luxurious meal that included fruitwood-smoked quail even as the global financial crisis rapidly spun out of control.
Five months on, Brown will show off popular British television chef Jamie Oliver, a Londoner who has tried to oust snobbery from fine dining and campaigns British kids to be served healthy meals at free state-run schools.
Appropriately, Manmohan Singh and others will be served their meals by young apprentices from Fifteen, the London restaurant Oliver founded to help train underprivileged youths whose success has been replicated across the world.
Oliver, who has ensured embassies and British diplomats approve all ingredients, has promised to use “honest high-street products” and avoid expensive or “fancy” ingredients.
“I’m hoping the menu I’m working on will show British food and produce is some of the best in the world, but also show we have pioneered a high-quality apprentice scheme at Fifteen London that is giving young people a skill to be proud of,” he says.
Brown is reportedly keen to avoid a repeat of the embarrassment last year when he sat down to an eye-popping 18-course gastronomic extravaganza at a Group of eight (G8) summit in Japan, held amid spiralling world food prices.
But the London summit itself will not be cheap - taxpayers will foot a bill that is expected to top 20 million pounds.
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