BY TOBY PORTER email@example.com
Donald Trump was nice to the host of his last major international visit, Canadian premier Justin Trudeau – then slammed him as soon as he left.
The US President, even before he arrived last night, said he expected to find Britain “In turmoil”.
That does not auger well for what he will say when he leaves for a meeting with his non-meddling chum Russian president Vladimir Putin.
So South Londoners are trying to be welcoming. The London Dungeon, in County Hall, across the river from Westminster, is offering Trump cuts – exaggerated dyed comb-overs – in the spirit of the Special Relationship.
Sadly, they will be done by murderous resident barber Sweeney Todd, so there may not be many takers.
Battersea Arts Centre (BAC), which reopens its doors following a 2015 fire in September, will have a series of banners offering the hand of friendship.
BAC is offering community leaders a sneak peak at the refurbished complex, and open house event taking place from 6pm to 7.30pm in the near-finished Grand Hall. Actor Toby Jones, Battersea Arts Centre’s patron, will read a poem telling the story of the public’s response to the fire, and a musical parade will be led by theatre company Little Bulb.
BAC will also show a photo, which will be displayed in the building about its hosting suffragettes Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurst and the election of John Archer, London’s first black Mayor in 1913.
The photo brings together a variety of people from BAC’s community, including tea dancers who regularly use it for social dance classes.
Conrad Murray of BAC Beatbox Academy said: “Battersea Arts Centre is my home and has been for nearly two decades. It’s my family, my friends, my school and my job.”
Tea Films will be among the first organisation in the building’s new co-working space, the Scratch Hub. Director Adam Hipkin said: “I grew up in Nine Elms, Battersea Arts Centre was my local theatre.
It was where I first experienced plays, musicals and puppet shows. Seeing BAC bounce back shows how much love there is for it from the community.
Michael Bishop, Senior Finance Officer at BAC said: “I started working here just after the Grand Hall fire, having been interviewed just before it.
“I’ve only been in the Grand Hall once, when it was rubble, I’ve never really seen or experienced any shows within the Grand Hall and I can’t wait to see my first shows here in the Phoenix season, Orpheus being high on my list.
David Jubb, Artistic Director said: “We had always planned a photo with members of our community, celebrating our values.
When we heard that President Trump was visiting the UK on July 13, we looked at our values and realised how much they are at odds with many of the values which President Trump’s leadership represents to us.
“Not for me, Not for you, But for Us” is Battersea’s mid-19th century motto and we think it captures a spirit of generosity and shared endeavour.
“We believe in building bridges across communities to bring people together. We believe in the power of love to make positive change. We believe in the central and powerful role of women to make the world a better place.
“We believe that art is a force for good and that everyone is creative.
So as the president visits the UK, we simply want to restate some of the values and ideals we think bring communities together – which unite us rather than divide us.
It’s in that spirit we address our photo as an open letter to President Trump about the positive values he will find in Battersea.”