United Kingdom

HENRY DEEDES watches Joe Biden's inauguration 

At 11.50am, the latest successor to George Washington cleared his throat, placed his bony left paw on a bible which might once have been Gandalf's spell book and began croakily reciting the oath of office.

Joe Biden took his time. This was now his right. The man derided for so long as one of life's dawdlers no longer had to hurry for anyone.

Perfect hair? Check. Neatly arranged tie? Check. Ice white grin? Check, check, check.

President Joe Biden hugs his wife Dr Jill Biden after being sworn in as 46th President of the United States

Donald and Melania Trump take their final trip on Air Force One to Palm Beach International Airport

No more can his enemies write him off as 'Sleepy Joe'. No more would he be the occupant of Washington DC's nearly man plinth. He was in charge now. Le grand fromage. The big enchilada.

Small wonder those blue Irish eyes of his were flickering with emotion. No sooner had he been sworn in – 'so help me God!' – than the new American President turned to his wife Jill, took her in his arms, and planted her lips with a giant smackeroo.

Meanwhile, the crowd whooped and clapped as though it was Independence Day all over again. Which for them it really was.

For the assortment of ex-presidents, judges, senators and other Washington pooh-bahs gathered there to witness an inauguration like no other – face masks, flags instead of people in the Mall, hesitant social contact – the new first family's well-choreographed clinch marked the moment they had got their city back.

Pop star Lady Gaga was the one who stole the show in a giant puffball designer dress

For four years they had been insulted and abused by the maverick in the White House and his collection of goons. They were part of Washington's stinking 'swamp'. Corrupt and only out for themselves. Crooks and liars all. Now, the elite had one of their own back on the throne. Biden, a Washington suit, the ultimate company man in political terms who'd earned his spurs and more over almost 40 years.

The orange disrupter was out on his ear. Peace and order had been restored to the American citadel.

The political establishment heavies who gathered yesterday looked on at the loving family Biden and nodded their approval. Yes, they would do very nicely, thank you.

Barack Obama beamed like a proud university don handing over the baton to one of his students as he greeted new Vice President Kamala Harris, a beacon in radiant purple and perpetual smiles.

Coloured flags and face masks ensured this was an inauguration like no other in front of the Capitol

As for Michele Obama, her capacious maroon number was a hit, too. Wowee did she look good! George W Bush curled his lip as though appreciating a fine Havana. Bill Clinton briefly appeared to nod off.

Eventually, Biden approached the lectern to make the most important speech he would ever make in his life. Stood there, arms aloft, a self-satisfied smile spread across his face, he looked like a man possibly still trying to work out how he had ended up here.

Twice before, he'd applied to the American people for this job. Both times he'd barely got out of the starting blocks. Yet now, here he was collecting the keys to the world. The speech itself was part sermon, part pep talk. And actually it was pretty good. A soothing ointment on America's still prickly skin.

Unity was theme as we had all expected. I lost count of the amount of times he said it. 'Let's all come together,' sort of stuff.

The farewell crowd which had gathered at Andrews Air Force Base was humiliatingly thin

There were no juvenile pot shots at foreign powers. None of that 'American carnage' nonsense of his immediate predecessor. Instead we got a lot of lofty talk about getting Americans to treat each other as neighbours again.

'My whole soul is in this,' Biden announced solemnly. You knew instinctively that he meant it and that was the moment emotion flowed. Here was a man who, at the age of 78, had reached the pinnacle of his life's journey.

As for the rest of the ceremony, well it was like being at the opening of Disneyland. A delightful, giant slushfest. Say what you like about these Americans, they sure know how to put on show.

And pop star Lady Gaga was the one who stole it in a giant puffball designer dress, her blonde locks fetchingly arranged like a Swiss mountain girl and with an enormous golden dove perched above her breast.

She gave a spirited rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner that was powerful enough to shatter Waterford crystal. Magnifico!

Biden signs three documents including an Inauguration declaration, cabinet nominations and sub-cabinet nominations

Best inauguration performance ever. (And don't tell Dr Jill, but I'm sure I spotted Joe making sheep eyes at her. Don't blame him.)

Voluptuous chanteuse Jennifer Lopez did her best with This Land Is Your Land, but it turned out to be a rather treacly dirge which didn't quite have the same impact as Her Gaganess who beat her to the best tune. (Hard to believe Ms Lopez just turned 51, though. And it wasn't just the politicos who were celebrating yesterday. These luvvie celebs are delighted Trump has gone. Didn't fit with their brand, darling. Too brash. Too tacky.

At one point I spotted J-Lo gushing over Kamala Harris. A girly night at the White House will no doubt soon be in the offing.

Oh, and later on country & western good ol' boy Garth Brooks crooned a few numbers. Always wondered what had happened to Garth. It's possible he's consumed a few pies since I last laid eyes on him. This all might have been a tad heavy on the sugar for some palates. But when you're here in person even the flintiest of souls couldn't fail to feel moved by this onslaught of Yankee schmaltz and pageantry.

All the beaming smiles, back slapping and happy families were a marked contrast to the morning Donald Trump was having.

Melania started the day tip to toe in black like an Italian nonna in mourning (left) before changing into her Florida attire (right)

The outgoing President emerged from the White House for the last time shortly after 8am. We were told the residence was going to be deep cleaned ahead of the Bidens' arrival that evening. Can't have the new first family turning up with the whiff of The Donald's aftershave still lingering in the air.

Marching across the South Lawn, Trump looked like a bulldog chewing a wasp. Boy was he cross. He stopped to salute a marine for what seemed like an age. Well, wasn't going to get to do it again any time soon was he?

Wife Melania, tip to toe in black like an Italian nonna in mourning and hiding behind a pair of sunglasses, was alongside. Had she been having a quiet blub?

The farewell crowd which had gathered at Andrews Air Force Base was humiliatingly thin. Town hall meeting numbers. Basically a hatful of hangers on and those gamey looking Trump children.

Voluptuous chanteuse Jennifer Lopez did her best with This Land Is Your Land, but it turned out to be a rather treacly dirge

Apparently, no Republic bigwigs could be persuaded to turn up. Even Trump's stone-faced Vice President and loyal terrier Mike Pence had declined to come, preferring instead to go to the inauguration. Mr Pence can probably rule out a gratis membership of Mar-a-Lago in the future. The Trumps briefly took to the stage to say their farewells. Geez, if you could have bottled the tension between them you could solve the energy crisis.

Trump resisted any jibes at the new administration. He mainly whined about how the pandemic had wrecked his term in office.

Melania was allowed to say a few words – how being first lady had been the 'greatest honour of my life' before her husband swiftly wrestled back control of the microphone.

'We'll be back soon,' said Trump as he prepared to clamber aboard Air Force One en route to Florida. Uh oh. Comeback alert! And with that he was off, no doubt to spend more time with his lawyers. Thank you and goodnight, Vienna.

The new President and the First Lady and their families strode out en masse for the White House 

As Air Force One began its steady climb above the clouds, I could hear a faint muffle of cheers around Downtown Washington DC.

Ding dong the Trump had gone.

In stark contrast to that departure, the Biden clan were heading to their new home – they even walked part of the way.

And what a moment that was when they stepped out of the limousines, lined up behind the new President and the First Lady and strode out en masse for the White House. They were all there, children and grandchildren, waving politely to the small crowds gathered along the route, arms interlinked at some points, even stopping for the odd hug.

President Joe Biden made a grand entrance into the White House he had assured the country he would occupy after he won the election

It was as if Joe was telling the world that they came as a package. Love me, love my family.

Ah, the White House. Scene of so many dreams and broken destinies – and here was Joe & Co to take their chance.

A marching band welcomed them with a rendition of 'Hail to the Chief' and 'God Bless America' and they all disappeared inside. A touching scene. Even if life for all of them would now never be the same. again.

Football news:

Jurgen Klopp: Liverpool will benefit from the Champions League, I hope. Let's go through Leipzig - we can become more confident
Laporta meets with Koeman and Barcelona players
Go pick cotton. Lille midfielder Renato Sanches was subjected to racist abuse in the French Cup match against Gazelek Ajaccio
Mestalla one on one with nature: without fans the stands at the Valencia stadium are overgrown with grass 🌿
Guardiola on the end of the series: Sometimes you need to lose to understand how difficult it is to win 21 times in a row
Manchester United surprised by the pressure. They also stopped Gundogan (sacrificing the density in the support area), but KDB could bring City back into the game
Real Madrid director Butragueno on Atletico player's hand: It's a penalty. We were again unlucky with referee Hernandez