I have just returned from ten days in Michigan, USA. I spent most of my time there in and around Ann Arbor, a beautifully green (clue in the name!) college town (or University town as we would say in the UK).
My reason for visiting was two-fold, firstly to introduce my daughter to more of my American family, including my two great aunts , now 93 and 86 years young; secondly to visit the University of Michigan Medical School to learn more about a different approach to medical mistakes, more about that later.
The customer service focus in the States, remains very impressive and travelling by myself with a toddler and a buggy, I was so very impressed by the offers of help and assistance, doors opened to allow me to push the buggy through; drinks offered to my daughter in a closed cup with a straw; free milk; children’s menus that included fresh vegetables and fruit; an abundance of changing facilities wherever we went.
And the customer service aboard Virgin Atlantic was fantastic, I am seriously considering never flying internationally with anyone else.
In past visits, I’ve been asked for my views on the royal family (still a popular topic of conversation), the correct pronunciation of tomato, an explanation for the word ‘fortnight’, my thoughts on a 24/7 shopping culture. But this visit, there was one main topic. I was asked by family, friends and strangers in shops and restaurants ‘What do the British think about Donald Trump?’ Unsure of the questioner’s political views, and not wanting to mar my visit with political arguments I would respond, ‘I think we’re mainly confused, and I am quite surprised by his popularity….’ and I would wait to hear the response. Unanimously it came ‘So are we/We do not understand what is happening/I don;t know anyone who supports him/What are we going to do?/I am moving to Canada/UK….’
It was great to come home to see my home City of Bristol elect its first black mayor and for London to have voted for its first Muslim mayor; diversity in action. We shall see what happens in the USA. I wonder whether, at the ballot box, the views I heard expressed about Mr Trump will see Americans vote for a woman, rather than follow their political party choice…..