Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I'm Mandy, come fly me

And I'm only being slightly less tongue in cheek than Lord Mandelson was last night, at the Peacock Theatre, in conversation with editor of The Times James Harding (who alarmingly, is the vocal spit of satirist John Oliver), as part of his - what feels like - never-ending publicity drive for The Third Man.

For what was most obvious is that it is only now that politics for him has become fun, rather than a duty or a chore or a set of tasks designed to burnish those greater than him and diminish him in the process. And because he is liberated from any threat of being called treacherous or a splitter, he can revel in his notoriety for expertise in the black arts, rather than shrinking from it.

It was, to all intents, like finding out that The Price of Darkness is actually Russell Harty, an impression he then proceeded to play up to, confirming that he'd 'smacked the bottoms' of three out of the five candidates for Labour leader for having spoken about the book without having read it.

His sinuousness in real life was something of a surprise. His voice flutters and his hands flute, expressively; and he often amuses himself more than he does anyone else - and this then amuses him even more. Combined with the very deliberate precision of his speech - but note that it is never lawyerly or policy wonky - he cannot be surprised that 'feline' was used as an adjective about him so often in his career.

The only time he was significantly discomfited was when he was asked which of David Cameron, Nick Clegg and George Osborne he'd shoot, shag or marry. He demurred from answering. It was the only time his homosexuality was even glanced upon (his Jewishness, or lack thereof, brought a thoughtful if unrevealing answer).

He still is as quotable as he ever was - "People who want to lead the Labour Party should not diss their government or dump on their pasts" - but there is the slight sense that, just perhaps, he isn't as newsworthy as he once was, and that he knows it; and so, like a rock star with one last album to sell, he is enjoying this final time on the road.

And one final thought: the long-form political interview (a form Mandelson helped to pioneer when he worked on Weekend World) hasn't, contrary to reports, died. Instead, now, the interviewee gets paid a hell of a lot more for taking part than they ever did for appearing on TV.

It's an irony that, presumably, Mandelson revels in.



Blogger harry said...

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7:25 am  

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