facing up to brown’s problem

24 Jun

Simon Jenkins on Brown. From yesterday’s Guardian: –

When Blair smiles his face lights up. A Brown smile is awful to behold. The mouth seems engaged in a messy divorce from the eyes, which narrow into slits. The cheek muscles protest at being summoned from moody slumber to a task way beyond their calling. Brown’s face harbours some epic quarrel with the world, or at least a violent disagreement with an oyster.

But Jenkins’ cruelness is checked in a later paragraph: –

Few of those who comment on Brown’s demeanour realise it is affected by the loss of sight in his left eye in a rugby accident at school. A botched operation distorted his facial muscles and caused a mild disfigurement. When a face does not naturally relax into a smile, forcing it exaggerates the distortion. Undiluted by a smile or frown, words uttered from a lopsided mouth can seem not really meant.

What’s in a smile?

Brownites will argue that substance is more important. And they’d be right, in principle. But what about in practice? In our 24-hr media, where every awkward pose is captured and distributed in seconds, an image has the capacity to define a politician. Today’s incoming PM is already characterised as a brooding and dour schemer, what will 12-months of absolute power do to this persona?

Brown should stop listening to advisers who ask him to smile at every opportunity. He doesn’t have Blair’s knack of appearing genuine, he just looks false and uncomfortable.


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