Welcome to my page
- 26 October 2012
- From the section US & Canada
A warm welcome to my new page on the BBC News website. This will be the home for my reflections, from the road, on American life.
"Who is the most important person you've ever interviewed?" I was asked the other day.
I didn't really pause before I replied that it was a woman in eastern Tennessee, in a town that was not much more than a long row of houses stretched out along the highway. The biggest and sturdiest building on the highway was a church, brick-built and squat. Most people lived in simple one-storey houses, as this woman did, and worked long hours at repetitive jobs. It was a place of pick-up trucks and big skies.
On the front door of this woman's house was a yellow ribbon. A flag hung, still, in the warm afternoon air. Inside, I sat on one of her big squidgy sofas and she on the other. In one corner of the room was an American flag, coiled around a pole, the sort you see in government offices and courtrooms across the country.
A picture of her son was on the wall - he was ramrod straight, staring straight out at the camera, in the dress uniform of US Marine Corps. A good looking kid.
And the woman slowly told her story, of how she had been dismissed by her company for taking a call from her son who was serving in Afghanistan, of how she had been reinstated after an outcry, of how she felt that the country had forgotten the wars America was fighting - there were still troops in Iraq back then - and of how the gap between those who served in the military and the country that they served had grown unimaginably large.
I will take you instead to rural Rotary Club lunches and remote US border patrol posts, to the dying coalfields of eastern Kentucky and the boom towns of North Dakota, to the desolation of Detroit and the brash confidence of the Lone Star State. I will take you off the interstate highways and onto the backroads of America - I'll put, as the song has it, a little gravel in your travel. I hope you will come with me, and let me know if you like what you see.
Before all that, however, there is the final frantic week of an election to cover. I will be with Mitt Romney (nearly) every step of the way, covering his rallies, talking to his supporters, weighing his chances until polling day. It should be a fun, if rather crazed, ride.
Please come again - bookmark the page or add it to your RSS reader, and get in touch if you have any comments.