MIDWAY : Clinton’s new love?

A saxophone is laid out especially and so are slices of wind-dried mutton and whale blubber. The Faroe Islands are in a frenzy of excitement about the arrival of the most famous person ever to visit their windblown shores: Bill Clinton.

The former American president has taken the surprising decision to accept an invitation from the fishermen and shopkeepers who make up the Faroes’ “House of Industry” to speak on the remote Atlantic islands 300km beyond Scotland.

And he is not the only one: Hans Blix, the former chief United Nations weapons inspector, will be joining him after a weekend spent rambling across the eighteen-island archipelago probably first settled by Irish monks back in the seventh century.

But what on earth is this day trip all about? Could it be the first salvo in the Faroes’ bid for full independence from Denmark after all these years? Not at all, says Torun Ellingsgaard, a writer who will interview Clinton in front of an audience of 500 Faroese. (Guess how long it took to sell all the tickets for the all-important event? All of twenty minutes!)

It turns out that Clinton’s agent had a friend who recommended a visit after he was struck by the unspoilt beauty of the “sheep islands”. What better man for the ‘virgin’ islands, then?

He will visit what they claim is the oldest parliament in Europe, a spot where Viking settlers held meetings more than 1,000 years ago, and will also listen to some “laidback” music at the island’s Nordic House concert hall. A buffet will also be laid on, including the aforementioned local delicacies.

“We expect him to speak about the political situation in the world and how the whole world can best solve the problems ahead such as climate change and poverty,” says Ellingsgaard.

“People are extremely

excited. Being a small country with a population of 48,000 it seems unbelievable that a former president of the United States is going to come and visit.”

If the excitement is reciprocated, Clinton can always change his plans for the rest of the week: the Faroese have prepared a special suite just in case he wants to stay the night.