Obama and Putin. I won't be blamed for blowing my top with them. That pair would try the patience of Job's favourite saint. I think of them as two of my boys, although technically they're clients of a sort; I give each of them advice now and again, in return for a token retainer from one and free supplies of Ketraskin vodka from the other.
Anyway, over the last few weeks they'd been separately calling me on and off, each cribbing and moaning about the other. I hardly had time to do the Sudoku with the phone going every five minutes, so in the end I got fed up and had both of them on a conference call together.
Will one of you explain what's going on, I said, or some such thing. So Barack starts on with that portentous way of his that's guaranteed to light my blue touch-paper, and off I went. Very disappointed. Expected more from them. Hadn't I coached them over the years. Hadn't they been listening to a word I'd said. Never thought I'd see the day. Sick to death of pair of them. Could expect it from Blair and Brown, but not from them. Should be ashamed. Like kids. Time to grow up. In bad books. What sort of example was it. Where did they think it would get them. What were they playing at. Reflect badly on me. Selfish behaviour. Letting themselves down. Letting me down. Need to think of others. Didn't want another word from either of them. Last time they get my help. Sorry not good enough. Get act together. Pull socks up. Etc etc.
They were contrite enough, I suppose. Hopefully something good seems to have come from it where that Syria business is concerned.
Obama I've known since '81, when I did that spell as guest professor at Harvard (a favour for Sacks). As a student he was bookish, introvert, polite, earnest, well-intentioned, a bit slower than his class-mates, and completely lacking a sense of humour. Putin was the other side altogether: not a qualification to his name (that wasn't fake, that is) sharp as a tack, rude, and a laugh a minute. He's been a regular client since seeing what I pulled-off coaching Gorbachev, although most of our time together is purely sociable, usually blind drunk and hatching new scams. He's a great one for the practical jokes- I dream them up and he takes them on. The bigger the better. What was the best of them? I suppose it was getting Yeltsin elected- we laughed ourselves sick at that.