The president's guest also presented him with the framed commission for HMS Resolute, the lost British ship retrieved from the Arctic and returned by America to London, and whose timbers were used for a thank-you gift Queen Victoria sent to Rutherford Hayes: the handsome desk that now sits in the Oval Office.
And, just to round things out, as a little stocking stuffer, Gordon Brown gave President Obama a first edition of Sir Martin Gilbert's seven-volume biography of Winston Churchill.
In return, America's head of state gave the prime minister 25 DVDs of "classic American movies."
Evidently, the White House gift shop was all out of "MY GOVERNMENT DELEGATION WENT TO WASHINGTON AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY T-SHIRT" T-shirts. Still, the "classic American movies" set is a pretty good substitute, and it can set you back as much as $38.99 at Wal-Mart: Lot of classics in there, I'm sure – "Casablanca," "Citizen Kane," "The Sound Of Music" – though this sort of collection always slip in a couple of "Dude, Where's My Car? 3" and "Police Academy 12" just to make up the numbers. I'll be interested to know if Mr. Brown has anything to play the films on back home, since U.S.-format DVDs don't work in United Kingdom DVD players.
It could be worse. The president might have given him the DVD of "He's Just Not That Into You." Gordon Brown landed back in London a sadder but wiser man. The Fleet Street correspondents reported sneeringly that he (and they) had been denied the usual twin-podia alternating-flags press conference. The Obama administration had supposedly penciled one in for the Rose Garden, but then there was that catastrophic snowfall (a light dusting). This must be the first world leaders' press conference to be devastated by climate change. No doubt President Obama could have relocated it to a prestige indoor venue, like the windowless room round the back of the White House furnace in Sub-Basement Level 5. But why bother? Some freak flood would have swept through and washed the Prime Minister and his DVD set into the Potomac and out to the Atlantic. And by the time the Coast Guard fished him out, the sodden classic movies wouldn't work in any American DVD player any better than in the Brit one.