Watching America from across the pond, it’s like looking at the House Party from Hell. Where that one guest turns up late and they haven’t brought any booze, but they still feel entitled to get roaring drunk on everyone else’s good stuff. They shout and stomp and insult the other guests. Start a fight. Trash the place. Throw up in the dog basket. Then fall into a snoring coma on the couch with a lit cigarette in one hand and the other one down their pants. And even after all that, you wake them up in the morning with a cup of fresh-brewed coffee and a couple of Advil, and offer them breakfast.
‘Man,’ he says, ‘that was a great party, wasn’t it?’
You look around at your destroyed house. ‘No, Chuck, it wasn’t. You ruined it for everybody.’
The rest of world likes to whale on the US – often with good reason, it has to be said. But America is like the over-achieving Uncle you love to hate. You can spend a whole afternoon shouting at him for being a bullying moron, but if you’re in a bind, he’s the one you call; because you know he’ll jump in his car and come and get you, even if it’s the middle of the night.
But now your uncle has been slipped a Roofie and he’s had some kind of psychotic break and you realise you can’t rely on him anymore. And that is a terrifying thought.
You want to take back all those times you called him a moron; when you railed against him for being a bully – because he was, in the end, your bully. You want him back the way he used to be. Sure, he could be an overbearing, annoying and even arrogant S.O.B. But he could also make your heart soar with his generosity and his ingenuity; his refusal to acknowledge the word ‘impossible’ and his unshakeable belief in Doing The Right Thing.
You loved him.
But the party’s over and the house is trashed and Uncle Sam has got dementia.