(AP)- 31/03/06 - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has arrived in Liverpool at the start of a two-day trip to the north-west of England. She was met last night at John Lennon Airport by the smouldering gaze of smitten UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, wearing specially designed loose fitting pants to conceal the erection he had anticipated.
Mr. Straw visited Rice's homeland of Alabamba last year and the say they struck up a "close relationship". Mr. Straw said "I promised Condi I'd return the favour and invite her over to my part of the world".
Earlier, mosque leaders in Blackburn decided to withdraw their invitation for Ms Rice to visit them on Saturday, amid warnings of protests from a group of Muslims which included members of the Stop the War Coalition.
Critics have said that Straw, in his own mind, knew that romance was unlikely to blossom within the stolid sanctity of a Muslim place of worship, and engineered the protests himself so he and Rice could spend their short time together elsewhere.
He took Rice instead to sample Liverpool's "happening" inner city scene, delighting his American compatriot with a trip to the cinema to see "Failure To Launch", the latest big Hollywood rom-com starring Matthew Mcconaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker as an unconverntional-in-love and oft-hilarious couple. Representatives say the two "enjoyed the movie but found it a little silly at times". Critics have described the movie as "a perfect-first-date-piece-of-fluff"
At a her keynote speech, Ms. Rice said she hoped to get across a message of "global understanding and the responsibility to push for greater universal acceptance of the west's democractic ideals".
Mr. Straw, sitting unusually close to Ms. Rice during the speech, frequently glanced towards his guest as she answered the press's searching questions, mainly relating to US foreign policy. Rumours that the two engaged in a light-hearted game of "footsie" are unconfirmed though all those present admitted to observing "a lot of adolescent giggling" between the two state representatives.
Later tonight, Ms. Rice will accompany Mr. Straw to a performance by the Liverpool Philarmonic, marking the city's status as Eurpoean Capital of Culture for 2008. At the request of Mr. Straw, the orchestra will close the evening with Tchaiklovsky's Romeo and Juliet suite. He didn't say why he requested this particular piece saying simply, "let's just say it should fit the mood of the evening".
The concert was due to be compered by renowned Liverpudlian poet, Roger McGough, but he pulled out of the event in and act of solidarity with anti-war protestors.
"I had no idea how deeply my fellow countrymen felt about the war for I have been at home immersed in my poetry writing and therefore not paying much attention to the news", he said.
Mr. Straw hit back at McGough's decision to pull out claiming "he's a crap poet anyway. I'm sure Ms. Rice would prefer to listen to me recite my favourite Shakespearian sonnets to her... I have the complete works of Shakespeare at home in my house... original prints. I don't like to brag but it's pretty impressive".
One protestor - a spokesperson for Stop The War - said, "We think, as do a lot of British citizens, that the invasion and occupation of the Iraq war and that a woman so central to it should be wined and dined in such a way".
Fellow protestor Seamus Gryffith-Joyner, highlighting a further item of controversy, said "There is ample evidence that the US is guilty of organising extraordinary rendition flights leading to the torture of terror suspects whose guilt is unproven".
Ms. Rice, every so often yelping as though someone was massaging her clitoris, argued, "We have no desire to be the world's jailer. We want the terrorists we capture to stand trial for their crimes in a wholly legitimate way," she said.
Mr. Straw, responding to the accusation, said as though lost in a daydream, "The only thing extraordinary I have witnessed in the previous two days is Condi's comehither set of brown eyes... excuse me I mean to say, the government has reason to believe that the US are not engaged in the illegal transferring of terror suspects to nations in which torture is all-pervasive. Thank you no more questions...."