A ‘Boris bike’ and a Wikiphoto

A trans-Atlantic story


“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”
– George Orwell

Britain may be much poorer for Brexit but it’s not so broke it can’t give the American president a decent gift.

Social media has been in a stew about the supposedly cheapskate present given by Boris Johnson to Joe Biden when he met him at the G7 summit in Cornwall. The British prime minister is said to have handed over a framed photo of anti-slavery campaigner Frederick Douglass printed out from Wikipedia! In return, he is said to have received a sumptuous gift, a $6,000 “Boris bike”, complete with a matching blue helmet emblazoned with the British and American flags.

Don Jr, the former US president’s thuggish son, opportunistically tweeted: “The total lack of respect for Biden captured in one gift exchange”.

As with most self-serving accounts advanced by the Trumps, the story apparently isn’t entirely true.

The Washington Post broke it all down.

In sum, it reported that the US State Department paid $1,800 for the bicycle. Bilenky Cycle Works, a small Philadelphia-based business, agreed to build the bicycle at a heavily discounted price after being told that it would be gifted to a foreign leader.

As for that framed printout from Wikipedia, the UK’s Foreign Office came upon a photo of a mural in Edinburgh of the famous abolitionist. Melissa Highton, who took the photo, is a dual US-UK national. She was asked by the Foreign Office if they could use it as a gift for Mr Biden. She agreed, free of charge, and urged the officials to also get in touch with Ross Blair, the artist who had painted the mural. That’s rather a nice story, actually, and pretty thoughtful of the British side, considering Mr Biden has often invoked Douglass in his speeches.

Pictures of the “Boris Bike” and helmet from Philadelphia-based @bilenkycycles that Biden gave UK’s Boris Johnson, who was the 1st foreign leader he met with on his 1st overseas trip as president. pic.twitter.com/indVyn6JuS

- Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) June 11, 2021

Originally published at https://www.rashmee.com on June 13, 2021.



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Rashmee Roshan Lall

Rashmee Roshan Lall


PhD. Journalism by trade & inclination. Writer. My novel 'Pomegranate Peace' is about my year in Afghanistan. I teach journalism at university