As Donald Trump’s impeachment battle hots up I wonder if I should mention that I once slept in his bed.
I do not expect a call from lawyers demanding a sworn statement, even although it does sound quite peachy.
My tall tale reads more like Goldilocks than House of Cards. The soon-to-be president was on the other side of the Atlantic as I was nodding off blissfully between the sheets. I was staying at the sumptuously-restored MacLeod House hotel at his Trump golf resort near Aberdeen. Luxury Valentine’s Day packages were offered to guests who could book rooms such as Trump’s own suite, and I was writing a consumer article.
That’s another favourite dining-out date in the calendar for this month torn out by Covid-19.
He used to stay in pre-White House days when visiting this north-east outpost of his empire. And it was a very nice stay for me with great food and service in opulent surroundings, including Trump’s Italian marble bathroom. My wife and I were booked into one half of the Trump suite, which was about the same size as my entire ground floor at home.
Most of us are fascinated about how the rich and famous live. Those endless video links in lockdown on daytime television from their fabulous homes feeds that desire. We peek into their lives and gaze past shoulders at what lies on bookcases. Often it’s a copy of a book they are trying to flog.
Many pontificate with a stream of hot air which evaporates into nothing of much consequence. But in the minds of his most deranged devotees, Trump’s fighting rhetoric lit the blue touchpaper to a lethal storming of the Capitol Building. The shocking aftermath was a warning for politicians here, too: rhetoric is a beautiful thing, as Trump might say, but it can also be ugly and sickening – think of the toxicity around Brexit and Scottish independence.
Blind faith in political leaders who persuade us to leap over a cliff edge in pursuit of an ideological dream never wanes, sadly.
Down to earth heroes
It was so much simpler when we were young. Most of us grew up worshipping our heroes without consequences. Some imagined they were part of their hero’s life, with all the scenarios that conjured. Psychologists call it adolescent “parasocial” behaviour. Young impressionables are apparently attracted most to film, music or sports heroes with humble, down to earth characteristics.
If only our leaders displayed that going forward after this shocking pandemic crisis and recent bitter political divisions.
I think it’s about time I confessed over my own teenage obsession. It was with football star Trevor Francis, who was the same age as me when he debuted at 16 for my favourite club. He was a “boy wonder” who played for Rangers much later in his career. I lived most of my teen years in a distant one-way bromance with Trevor.
Years later I was on a holiday flight from Spain and discovered he was tucked away at the back. My latent obsession re-surfaced; I was in my 50s but my legs turned to jelly as I waited for Trevor to exit the jet with his wife Helen.
They were charming and patient after I ambushed them in the aisle and blabbered away. They smiled warmly and listened intently as though this was the first time they had ever heard cringy hero-worship stuff, and thanked me with touching sincerity.
It was simple, down to earth humility.
It was the same kind of thing when I bumped into football legend Jimmy Greaves as I took my son to see Inter Milan play in England 30 years ago. A popular TV pundit at the time, he was shepherded away from autograph hunters outside by an overbearing sports broadcaster acting as bodyguard. My son should have been next in line before Greavsie was snatched away cruelly and swallowed up by the crowd. I put an arm around my boy and shouted: “Oh no, you’ve missed your chance.”
The former Spurs hero was obviously still in earshot because he swivelled around, pushing his way back through the crowd towards us. “Right, son, come on then,” he cried.
My lad ran forward and he signed his autograph.
It was a kind and humble gesture from Jimmy, who is 81 this month.
These small acts of kindness, tolerance and compassion make big impressions which last a lifetime.
A little humility goes a long way, but I doubt if it will stretch as far as Washington in bitter acrimonious days ahead.