‘Sweets for my sweet, sugar for my honey...’
‘Yeah, he is sweet’ says Bush at one point. ‘He’s honey’, Blair replies.
We don’t know who they’re talking about – is it President Assad of Syria – and we’ve had a big argument in the office over whether Blair says ‘he’s honey’ or in fact says ‘he’s had it’. Our reporter Giles Dilnot, no mean hand with a mike, is convinced only the later interpretation makes sense of the whole exchange. Click here to listen and make up your own mind.
Is 'Yo! Blair' a friendly greeting from Bush to an equal, or patronising and disrespectful? Our linguist – Dr. Colleen Cotter from the University of London and an American to boot – thought it was just what you’d expect of two old mates kicking back at a summit. Some of the British papers this morning are more sceptical.
And is ‘shit’ a good way to sum up what’s happening in Lebanon? Bush uses it (though on air we bleeped it out) and our linguist thought it was exactly the kind of language you’d expect in private conversation between friends. Again the papers disagree, some believing it say more about the American president’s grasp of diplomacy than the Middle East.
And then there’s the sweater. Or should that be jumper. Nick Clegg, the great Liberal Democrat hope, thought Tony had made a classic fashion mistake by picking out knitwear for George when the weather is so hot here and in Texas. But in the office we reasoned that if an American billionaire give John Prescott cowboy boots and a Stetson then Burberry is the only riposte.
Open mike cock-ups are legendary, and make fantastic talking points. Remember John Major calling half his cabinet ‘bastards’ when he thought the tape wasn’t rolling – or Prince Charles thinking he was too far away for reporters to hear him describing the BBC’s royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell as an awful man.
The Blair-Bush exchange tops them both in my view, because it will be picked over for weeks for meaning, and for clues about one of the most important relationships in the world.
Jamie Donald is editor of live political programmes