While I would quite happily take a couple of the WW staffers home and keep them, am currently just borrowing these wonderful characters from Aaron Sorkin.
I am Scottish born and despite having lived in South Africa for nearly forty years, still have a strong brogue. Apart from that am 100% African and love the Southern African countries and am never happier than when visiting their marvellous game parks especially Ethosa up in Namibia when I visited my son who was working in that country. I am a great reader of anything about United States politics especially the Tammany Hall years and have found The West Wing (first series finishes tonight, 31.07.00, in SA) incredible. Canít remember ever having been so enamoured with a television series and itís characters before. Feel rather like a 60 year old groupie and I wasnít even a pop star groupie as a teenager, the heyday of Elvis, Buddy Holly, Beattles, etc when all my friends were swooning about me.
African Adventure - Part 1
Every year thousands upon thousands of requests come into the White House requesting the President Bartlet or his delegate to open schools or new shopping centres or factories, to make speeches at everything from university graduations to sportís events, to hit the first baseball of the season or kick the first football. These invitations come from around the world. There is a special team who sifts through them. Commercial applications are returned immediately with a polite refusal as are those of a non-practical nature such as say a nursery school graduation in Alaska. The rest are allocated into dates, occasions and availability of the President and his staff. The senior member then culls these, and after investigating further, forwards a list of possibles to the President for perusal.
And so on an early March morning, an invitation arrived on President Bartletís desk from President Sam Najoba to attend the 10th Anniversary of his Namibian Presidency.
The dates were 9th to 15th July, dates he had allocated for a retreat to Camp David and a well earned week of vacation for his senior staff. The invitation was for 24 people and included a 3 safari through the Ethosa Game Park in Northern Namibia.
By the time the afternoon staff meeting had come around President Bartlet was interested enough to have already done enough research to bore his staff with facts and figures yet once again. He informed them that they were all going off to Namibia in July and that they must just cancel any plans already made for that week. Toby was very unhappy, protesting that he had planned to spend the week in New York attending concerts and shows - and besides he hated the outdoors and especially that full of wild animals and insects.
The 24 places were allocated to President and Mrs. Bartlett and their daughters Elizabeth and Zoe, the 5 senior staff and Charley, 4 Airforce One crew, 4 bodyguards which left 6 places a begging. Two were allocated to the secretarial staff, and while Mrs. Landingham declined, the other secretaries had a draw which was won by an excited Margaret and Ginger. 4 Places were reserved for the press corps. These were taken up by Danny Concannon, as senior press representative, John McKendrick who had been based in Johannesburg, South Africa for ten years as a Reuter correspondent and had travelled extensively in Southern Africa and two younger reporters, Daryl Armstrong and Shirley Kent, both African-American and on their first visits to Africa.
As the weeks went by, they started to get very enthusiastic. Despite being advised that the $US against the $Nam was definitely in their favour for buying clothes in Windhoek for the Game Park Leg and that safari gear wasnít a must, bags with the Army Surplus Store logo started to appear after lunchtime shopping trips. While the majority settled for bush hats, Sam, who had obviously seen "King Solomonís Mines one too many times, arrived at a meeting wearing a khaki pith hat. For the rest of the day he was teased about being "pithed off". Danny was persuaded that even if his suspenders were embossed with elephants, they didnít quite suit khaki shirt and shorts. As Americans, they werenít very comfortable wearing knee length socks with their new suede desert boots but then "when in Rome". They even managed to stop roaring with laughter when spotting a friend trying to wear the newness from their bush outfits on the weekends.
The President brought numerous books on Namibia and Ethosa and had the prospective travellers jumping in doorways if they spotted him wandering through the halls with a finger inserted in his guide book and looking for victims.