Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Grin to Win (or End in The Bin)

Living in a country where a direct £40 bribe will get me more healthcare and planning permission than any election candidate can ever offer, I’m not normally that interested in politics. But I’m disturbed by this US election thing: what’s with all the grinning straight at the camera?? Everybody’s saying what a nutter Sarah Palin is now they’ve heard her views on creationism and the environment, but couldn’t they’ve discovered that earlier just by looking at her publicity photos?? Everything about the picture above says “I’m going to believe what I believe and use up the world’s oil and make polar bears apologise and I don’t have to give you a reason why”. It’s not really having a grin I object to, it’s the new angle of attack and the lack of psychological restraint that disturbs me. (Even former president Carter the Unstoppable Grinning Machine, circa 1977, seemed to keep a more respectful distance and one ear hidden out of modesty.) Below is a painting by certified Norwegian nutter (and genius) Edvard Munch.

I once heard a psychiatrist explain that in art therapy sessions any patient who draws a self-portrait absolutely head-on is a nutter. I’m pretty sure the chap in the painting is Eddie himself as he paints like this many times. You’d be very well advised to visit the museum dedicated to him in Oslo, but (despite his talents) not to elect him as your vice-president. Here in Romania I'm continually enchanted by wedding photographs from the 1950s and 60s in homes that I visit. Always shot in glorious black-and-white and at a ¾ perspective with the couple looking into the middle distance to the side of the camera. It doesn’t matter how much they’ve come to resemble Albert Steptoe and his sister Dolly, they always look like film stars in the wedding photo. Even Comrade Ceauşescu knew to avert his eyes a little so’s not to scare us. Now, this is deeply unfair, and let us not forget what America has done for us over the last century by way of cartoons and jazz music, but here’s the alternative to Sarah Palin, perhaps just 1 degree better, Joe Biden:

27 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

Steptoe had a sister called Dolly? I don't remember her. Are you referring to Dolly the Sheep, cloned by some boffin called Steptoe? These elliptical jokes have a communist-era flavour to them.

scarlet-blue said...

Private Godfrey had a sister called Dolly in 'Dad's Army'.

Have you seen any recent pictures of David Miliband?
Sx

Kevin Musgrove said...

David Milliband doesn't count.

Sorry, that's just gossip from last week's conference.

M C Ward said...

There is a scary streak here you've astutely identified. Is that picture really Carter or Mike Yarwood, I can never tell the difference?

Gadjo Dilo said...

Woah, a nice eliptical referene indeed Bananas, I wish I'd thought of it! (Though maybe I did, subconciously).

I was thinking of the Steptoe episode where Harold finds the old "what the butler saw" machine and it turns out that his dad and his aunt (who I'd thought was called Dolly) were the stars. Yes, Private Godfrey had have a sister called Dolly; maybe I also mixed them up subconciously - this is starting to mess with my head.

David Milliband - I feel I should know who he is. Was he in On The Buses?

Shit, he really does look like Mike Yarwood, doesn't he!

(Ach, I set up an investigation here which personality profiles potential future leaders of "the free world", but as usual it's descended into a chat about 1970s TV shows.)

Mrs Pouncer said...

Gadjie, COMPLETELY OFF TOPIC
On the wireless this morning, there was a man from Radio Cluj! I couldn't believe my ears. Radio Cluj! I thought, wow! that's where dear old Gadjo lives; how nice! He was talking about CFR Cluj, and comparing them to Notts Forest. His name was Florian Gitsianou (I am being phonetic) and he was bigging up Mr Pazcarny (ph.) He described Chelsea's visit to Cluj as "the main event of the Autumn", and I wondered whether you would agree?

No Good Boyo said...

I too heard the om de Cluj, and recounted it in excited tones to Mrs Boyo as she was destapling her hair. Good luck to you Transylvanians, and let's hope the game is played at dusk.

I do have to warn you, Gadjo, that any more disparaging comments about Sarah Palin, Blessed Virgin Mother of Five, will earn you a senior position on the Welsh opposition front bench - with all that it entails.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Yes, you are also completely off topic, Mrs Pouncer. They're playing now - well past dusk, giving us time to freshen up a bit after rising from our coffins - and I sincerely hope we give them Sarf Lahndan wankahs what for!!!

Sarah Palin is blessed with a lack of shame and by being attractive enough to men to ensure the issue of five sprogs: to me she'll always be more Magdelena than Virgin. I'll still take the front bench position though - Minister for Charlotte Church Affairs, if it's still going.

Kevin Musgrove said...

I think it's a cultural thing. Back in the old days when I was comfortable in my skin a British politician would rarely break out into more than just an avuncular grin or a self-effacing smirk to the cameraman. Possibly because of the Brit's natural reserve and dislike of swank, but more probably because they were scared of dropping their pipe, or in the case of F.E. Smith a finely-chiselled cheroot.

These days they're required to follow the American trend to look open and approachable, which means that they have to look full face to the camera with a flat lighting so as not to create any "difficult" shadows. All politicians are, in principle, scary people who think they know better than you and there's no place for this to hide. Hence the hard edge to the eyes and the ghastly rictus that so many are given to. (Am I the only one to think that Anthony Aloysius St.John Blair was a victim of Joker venom?)

Don't worry about David Milliband: he's an idea in the minds of London political correspondents.

No Good Boyo said...

The job is yours Gadjo. The Glenys Kinnock portfolio has already been allocated to "H" out of Steps.

You're right there, Kevin. The only time British politicians ought to smile is when our glorious army has dahsed the bemerded and not necessarily severed heads of our enemies at the feet of her Britannic Majesty.

Otherwise it's ok to affect a sickly grin when you pose with your family at the bottom of your drive to comment on the tabloid revelations about you and "Ahmed, un fils du Rif".

I dislike the parading of one's family at party conferences etc, not merely because the idea of launching Madame Boyo on the British public is bound to contravene some sort of Geneva Convention.

I'd have more respect if our leaders were introduced by their dirty secrets. "Hi Blackpool, I'm Oola, a South Moluccan pre-op transsexual from Amsterdam. Mr Brown/Cameron/ Wyn Jones may enjoy screwing your country, but not as much as I enjoy screwing him. With one of these!"

Can Bass 1 said...

I haven't the least idea what that Boyo fellow has just said, but I am rather surprised no-one has so far mentioned Mr Blair. Sorry - someone had to!

Gadjo Dilo said...

We're getting old, Kev: I never thought I'd pine for people who looked like Harold MacMillan and Anthony Eden. You're a Hancock fan, I salute you.

Thanks Boyo, can you give me Portfolio for Cerys Matthews as well? I think New Zealand's transsexual ex-working-girl Georgina Beyer (who I only know so much about as a former schoolmate is in politics over there) may have campaigned on a similar platform :-)

Thanks for dropping by Mr Can Bass. Actually the Kevin fellow did mention Our Tone, though cunningly disguised as H-Our H-h-h-Hancock! It's all smoke and mirrors and eliptical references here ;-)

No Good Boyo said...

Om de Cluj was on Radio 4 again this morning, saying it was a game of two halves. His "we are not vampires" shtick was undermined, as he acknowledged, by the Cluj fans' having unfurled a banner of their striker dressed as Count Dracula (Lugosi era) at the match. Perhaps this was a cryptic reference to Lugosi's being an Hungarian.

I'm glad to say BBC reporters are under strict orders not to pronounce the city "Cludge".

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Or pronounce Łódz (in Poland) "Lodds" when it should be pronounced Woodge. Congratulations on a thumping 0-0 victory over Chelsea. I too was thinking of Gadjo when lying in bed this morning. Listening to Radio 4.

Mrs Pouncer said...

Yes, once again the glorious name of Cluj was referenced on Radio 4 just as I was driving over Sonning Bridge this morning. The game was actually described as "lacklustre", and poor old Didier Drogba! Is he an inpatient at Cluj Cottage Hospital, then? What sort of treatment is he likely to get?
Isn't it fun that this post has turned into a lovely sports report! And that it features me, Boyo and Daphne who all know zip about football? What are the chances?

Mrs Boyo said...

Mrs Pouncer, any activities that might involve yourself, Boyo and an horizontal Mrs Wayne-Bough would prove most disagreeable to you two ladies and illegal in both Wales and Transylvania.

If Polish were spelt phonetically it would look like written Manx, which Boyo assures me is a Celtic language and not merely a teenage insult.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Cloozh has suddenly become the belly-button of the universe, and not before time if you ask me. I wasn't able to watch the match - which I've heard was actually very good - as we have a guest sleeping in the room with our telly in it; but I was in town earlier that evening and, desperate as I always am to re-connect with my own culture, I tried to engage some Chelsea fans in a conversation about Robert and Elizabeth Browning.

We'll play up the (wholly erroneous) Dracula connection for as long as the cash tills keep k'ching-ing.

Thank you for thinking of me, Daffers, I am touched! (No, really, I am). "Poor old" Didier Drogba is being personally cared for by my wife and her colleagues. It's the first time they've had a black sportsman in there, so they keep giving him anesthetics and taking off his clothes to have another good look. Young maaan!!

Mrs Boyo, on the contrary, the activities that your husband and Misses Pouncer and Wayne-Bough might engage in would not be illegal under Romanian law, not because they're not sufficiently bizarre but because no lawmaker here would believe they are possible.

Mrs Pouncer said...

Dear Gadjo, Mrs Boyo
Something very terrible is happening to me. This morning, I actually turned the wireless UP just to catch the sports report. It was all about Joe Kinnear, who I now know to be the new Mgr of Newcastle, late of Wimbledon. I have retained this information since 0830 hrs. He swore 52 times in his first press conference. The bleeps were a bit out of sync, so there was an audible fuck. Not that there's anything wrong with an audible fuck, far from it. However, I fear I may be turning into a Pundit. I fear that I have been inhabited by Barry Venison. May the good Lord above deliver me from this torment.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Gadjo, do they sleep standing up in Transylvania? Or hanging upside down in trees?

Mrs P, I beg to correct you but I know a bit more about the beautiful game than you might assume, having knitted my own bobble hat and worn it on the terraces at The Valley, not in Wales but the home ground of Charlton Athletic F.C. known for many years as Charlton Athletic Nil. It was the easiest way to catch a boy's attention in those days, you see. You're not telling me you didn't have a bit of a thing for George Best as a gel?

Gadjo Dilo said...

Dearing Mrs Pouncer, a lady of your breeding and refined gourmet tastes does well to be "inhabited by Barry Venison", rather than by Terry Lamb, Tommy Mutton or any of the other sporting non-entities who are named after types of meat.

Daffers, THEY sleep soundly in their beds worrying about nothing more complicated than whether they'll have enough chickens to slaughter for their next sprog's wedding. I sleep with medication (often alcoholic) and frantic, colourful dreams about how I could have been the next Peter Ustinov if only I'd stayed at home ;-)

Autolycus said...

Joe Biden? Surely, that grin betokens a love-child of Joe E Brown. It could be a shock ending to one of the debates - Sarah Palin rips off her wig and announces she's a man... God knows, she's not perfect

Mrs Pouncer said...

Daphne, I apologise, and I bet you looked perfectly sweet in your hat. No, I had nothing for G. Best; nothing at all. However, I once went out - just once - with Paul Mariner, who at that time played for Plymouth Argyle, in about 1976-ish. He was dull and dim.

Gadjo. I laughed out loud! I love the name Tommy Mutton; is he real? I want to be inhabited by him now, not dreary old patrician-meat Venison.

Barry Teeth, Beet Poet said...

I love Sara Paylin!

Gadjo Dilo said...

Welcome Mr Autolycus! You've cleverly mixed the dénouement from Tootsie and the closing line of Some Like It Hot, though I suspect that Mrs Palin really is a girl, despite everything.

Dearest Mrs Pouncer, yes, Terry Lamb and Tommy Mutton are both real sportsmen (I'd never heard of them either until Google served up their names), though how "real" they feel their lives to be when all they do is kick a piece of leather around is a matter for conjecture.

There's a poem in there, Barry, and you should write it. With lot's of rhyming words endin' in in', I'm thinkin'!

Mrs Pouncer said...

Fabio has decided not to pick Owen for the England squad, and there's a real danger that it heralds the end of his international career. And it's Spurs' worst start to the season for 97 years.

More tomorrow. Pounco

Kevin Musgrove said...

I should draw the line at the sheepskin coat, Mrs. P.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Please keep up this commentary, Mrs Pouncer, it's the only interresting news I'm getting from back home at the moment. I think she'd look great in sheepskin, Kev.