Thursday, 22 April 2010

The Leaders, As You've Never Seen Them

Here's a diversion to beguile the long hours of tonight's Great Debate and Great Post-Debate Analysis - try picturing the leaders in 18th-century dress (if I had the Photoshop skills, I'd mock something up...). Cameron, with his sleek, plump Georgian face, is a natural. Put him in periwig and stock, brocade coat and waistcoat, and there he is - the 18th-century country squire, happy in his skin and his clothes, his easy life and his land, a figure straight out of a Gainsborough or Zoffany portrait. A little more of the outdoor life and Cameron's face would soon have that authentic side-of-beef look of the Georgian landed gentry. He's the easy one - but what of Clegg? I see him as the keen young architect or new-fangled landskip gardener, full of ideas for modernising the squire's house and improving his grounds in the fashionable style. Put him in a plain greatcoat with deep pockets, tricorn hat and sensible boots, and he'd look quite convincing - it would certainly be an improvement on his present Mister Byrite look. But what on earth can we do with Broon? As the man is incapable of wearing any other colour than black - if he ever did, it would instantly turn black ('And after it rains there's a rainbow, but all of the colours are black...') - he will have to be a cleric of a particularly severe disposition, full of gout and brimstone. Or better still, dress him in courtroon garb, put a black cap on him, and there you are - a hanging judge straight out of Hogarth.

9 comments:

  1. Terrific thinking. Broon is definitely a Parson, I reckon. A malevolent one.

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  2. I wonder what Sir Watkyn will have to say...

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  3. Of course Prescott could have stepped straight out of Hogarth's 'Election', swinging punches while eating a big pie.

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  4. I rather see Broon as the warden of the Marshalsea (I think they were called Knight Marshal), or at least the chaplain - "the Marshalsea looked like an Oxbridge college and functioned largely as an extortion racket" according to Wikipedia, anyway. With, behind him in the gloom, a couple of whey-faced jailers like Darling and Straw, bunch of keys in hand. Prescott would be running the kitchens, for a fee, the food entirely diverted to his network of shady taverns.

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  5. Gordon would be running the press gang.

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  6. You're quite right about Cameron: he has that insouciant, born-to-rule, get-orf-my-land look of Gainsborough's Mr Andrews. Not attractive to me, though I can see why some might find it reassuring in a potential PM. George Osborne has more the air of Hogarth's rake in his glory days (Simon Carr of the Independent once described him as a man with a "subcutaneous sneer").

    However, the one I've always thought of as quintessentially
    18th century is Mandelson -- perhaps that's why Bryan A. seems to feel so warmly towards him. Can't you see him in knee breeches and buckled shoes, slinking from coffee house to salon with the latest scandal sheets, weaving plots within plots for some future Namier to unravel? His face already looks like something strangely haunting from a Gillray or Rowlandson cartoon -- so thin, clever, and foxy but with an unexpected neediness or sense of trouble about the eyes and mouth.

    By contrast, the cartoonists must despair of Clegg. I still don't think I'd recognize him if I passed him in the street.

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  7. Capability Clegg wins the largest gardening contract ever placed, a spokesperson for the mellow yellow pruners said "Capa has fought long and hard for this contract, no expenses spared.
    His main competitor, the Beadle Brown is said to be sulking in his Caledonian fastness.
    One of the other competitors, Squire Cameron has been observed making overtures to the Capa, hoping for a share of the contract.
    Rumours that the workforce will be recruited from Bohemia have been hotly denied

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  8. Nige - what a fertile imagination you have. Brown is a funeral director, in black mourning dress, with a dangling, defunctive fob watch and a second hand top hat.

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