I’ll miss Valdas Adamkus when he retires to his rocking chair in a couple of months. The outgoing Lithuanian president is a likeable fellow seeming at one minute to be everyone’s favourite grandpa, walking the corridors of power with a pocketful of Werthers Originals, and at the next to be the eponymous lead from The Old Man And The Sea, attempting to get the ship of state back to port even as it falls apart around him.
For an octogenarian he’s in fine shape and shows no signs of easing off in the last few weeks of his second and final term. Quite the opposite in fact: he seems determined to meet and greet a fair proportion of the planet before he quits, suggesting that maybe his pension is calculated on a per handshake basis.
Journalists have been bombarded with releases outlining the latest doings of Ole Uncle Valdas and the list of introductions has been getting both increasingly frantic and increasingly strange.
Things finally entered the realm of surreality a couple of weeks ago with the live TV broadcast of toasts to and from the King of Spain during a state visit. All three Baltic states seemed inordinately proud of the fact that some inbred Hapsburgs were in town and perplexed by the almost total lack of interest displayed by the international media.
That’s partly because royal reporters are (rightly) regarded amongst the journalistic community as the lowest form of life but also because if there’s one thing even more nauseating than the whole idea of monarchy in the modern age, it’s the sight of people who live in republics fawning over royals.
If monarchies are so bloody wonderful, why not have one of your own?
Returning to message, I thought it would be hard to outdo El Rey for wackiness, but somehow Adamkus has managed it. The latest presidential press release begins:
President Valdas Adamkus received Sir Roger Moore, actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
During their meeting, President Adamkus underlined that the visit of the legendary British actor to Lithuania was highly meaningful.
“In these globally difficult times, we cannot forget basic human values. We must not only speak about lending support to those in need. We must also act,” Mr. Adamkus said.
Now, Roger Moore (famously born with an instruction instead of a name) does a lot of good work for UNICEF and by all accounts is a thoroughly decent chap. He’s also looking good for an old ‘un. His recent autobiography is also said to be an enjoyable and refreshingly modest read. But to describe his visit as “highly meaningful” is probably stretching language into the realm of quantum physics.
It’s nice that a not-very-good old actor showed his face in Vilnius, but it’s not meaningful – let alone “highly” so.
Still I suppose it could have been worse. It could have been George Lazenby.