But does he still have more fun?


We’ve covered the fact that despite the nation’s much-vaunted Confucian respect for age, a glossy dye-job or even a straight up wig is standard issue for Chinese politicians.

Of course, the same thing is true in the West to a certain extent, but it seems like even the least likely people are getting in on the act:

There has been speculation for a while that Boris’s fabled mop may have had a touch of the Marilyn Monroe to it. Last year, celebrity hairdresser Heinz Schumi claimed it was a ‘forgery’. ‘I’m telling you, it’s bleached,’ he told the Daily Mail. ‘I went to see him give a speech, and when the spotlights shone on his hair, it was kind of orangey — it doesn’t go light enough. Also, when hair is bleached, the follicles are broken so you manipulate it how you like — this is what Rod Stewart did, so I am absolutely certain he bleaches it.’

Yet no confirmation had ever come from Boris as to whether this was true. Indeed his own father told the Mail that it was ‘100 per cent nonsense’. ‘I remember when he was born in New York, I nipped off to get a pizza and when I returned he was swaddled with all the other babies — but quite distinguishable by this shock of white hair. So I can reassure the nation, it’s quite genuine,’ he said.

Well, now it seems the truth has emerged. In today’s Sunday Times Magazine, during an interview with Tim Shipman, Boris admits that he does in fact rely on the bottle. When conversation turns to Boris’s ‘bird’s nest of platinum hair’, he is keen to point out that ‘This is the real thing. It’s all natural.’ But when pressed as to whether or not he dyes it, he admits that ‘Yes’, he does. As Tim puts it, it is ‘real but enhanced, a little like the public personality.’


Rumour also has it that Boris deliberately musses his hair up before going in front of the cameras. Gotta protect the trademark, after all.




Star in a reasonably-priced car

Courtesy of Russia Today:

Breaking small rules: it can do so much to endear a politician to the voters. Consider the famous photo of Jacques Chirac jumping the barrier in the Paris metro when he was Mayor:

Chirac jumping the metro barrier

Obviously it’s a photo-op and he’s not really fare-dodging, but it gets a response out of us because we’ve all jumped the barrier at some point. Yes, even you. Don’t play the innocent with me.

To quote an old post:

He was the authorities, but he retained an air of anti-authority chutzpah til the end. People felt as though he was one of us, even when he was more or less openly manipulating the political system in favour of ‘them’.

Boris Johnson takes things a step further, and manages to get away with serial infidelities by reacting to their discovery as though they were just laddish misdemeanours, more or less on the same level as jumping the barrier on the underground. And, by and large, voters are willing to go along with it. As Paul Goodman put it:

In modern politics unconventional politicians are judged by different rules from conventional ones.


Even the story about David Cameron putting his cock in a dead pig’s mouth at a Piers Gaveston society party failed to damage him in the way that many of the more puritanical elements on the left hoped. We’ve all done stupid things while young and drunk, after all (even, whisper it not, the holier-than-thou Spartists among us). Quoting Brendan O’Neill:

Dave, King of the Lads. If only he would fess up to his pig thing (if it’s true) and take ownership of it. In 2015, it often feels like the world is ruled by the unworldly, by over-spun politicians, a moralistic media class, and fun-allergic student bureaucrats. Pig-gate gives me hope — hope that behind Cameron’s too glossy veneer there might just lurk a real man. Maybe even a bloke.


And this is where Barack Obama’s PR people may have made their biggest mistake. No, not in preventing him from fucking livestock, but with regards to a habit that – these days, at least – is almost equally reviled. We all know that Obama smokes at least sporadically, and yet there are no leaked photos out there of him puffing away in the Oval Office

Well, actually, there are, but they’re all poor photoshops. But here’s the thing…

Picture of Obama Smoking a Ciggerette

That’s a fake (for the original, see here), but doesn’t he look a million times more sympathetic in that picture than when standing behind a podium, blandly explaining to us why this latest Middle Eastern bombing expedition really is necessary?

Hell, a cigarette can even soften Kim Jong Un’s image:

Kim Jong Un smoking

So why doesn’t the Obama media machine just let us see him smoking? Well, probably because they’re middle-aged Beltway democrats who wear Fitbits and drink kale smoothies and see smoking as being the next thing to genocide.

For the rest of us poor schleps who are just trying to get through the day and put some food on the table, however, a few pics of the leader of the free world demonstrating that he too has his indulgences would go a long way towards increasing our sympathy for him.

How to pretend to be an intellectual


A while ago I was chatting to a bloke from the French MoD (yes, one of those) and he asked me whether I considered myself to be intelligent.
‘I’m plausible,’ I replied, smugly.
‘Good answer.’

And that’s a large part of the reason I love this Tumblr about the gestures that people use when they want to look clever so much. I’ve used every single one of these ‘Look at me being intellectual’ gestures when speaking in public. Every last one. I am a shallow, manipulative cockbag.

I suspect that their ultimate origin comes from the French “intellectuels médiatiques, for whom it is almost obligatory to flail around like a souk trader if you wish to have any credibility at all. Thanks to TEDx and various related enterprises, these gestures have become a global currency when it comes to conveying a sense of passion and belief in one’s topic. It’s all bollocks of course, some of the brainiest people are terrible speakers (Nassim Taleb, particularly, looks and acts as though he wandered into his sitting room and found it full of people expecting him to give a speech). Moreover, we are all fully aware of the fact on an intellectual level. In general, however, our hearts overrule our heads, and the I-am-an-intellectual gestures work like a charm. Otherwise no one would do them.

For politicians, of course, the opposite is true: you need to restrict your hand-gestures, or people begin to suspect that you’re trying to sell them something. Spin doctors and PR consultancies actually train them to do this, like dressage horses (but less aesthetically pleasing).

The only two that are fully condoned are, in the words of everyone who’s ever made a living adding silly captions to these things:

a) ‘Enormous bosoms’

enormous bosomsb) ‘Huge cock’

huge cock

(You were expecting Vladimir Putin sitting with his legs wide apart, weren’t you? And, while we’re on the subject: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE STOP DOING THAT.)

… Because they convey an impression of solid and earnest sincerity.

Some pols are so successful at doing nothing with their hands that it becomes a career-defining feature:

Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel has actually admitted that the famous hand gesture came about just to give her something non-distracting to do with her arms while on official business.

But this doesn’t mean that paying fanatically detailed attention to every micro-gesture is the sine qua non of political success.

Boris Johnson, for example, has based his whole career on letting it all hang out:

And it works for him, because underneath it all he’s smart and ruthless enough to pull it off. If a less gifted or self-possessed politician tried it, the journalists would be on him like feeding time at the piranha pond. Boris, on the other hand, actually manages to use his own eccentricities to gain far more latitude for himself than anyone else enjoys. As various people have pointed out, a string of affairs and illegitimate children and agreeing to have people beaten up would finish anyone else’s career, but Boris can get past it with five minutes bluster and a sheepish smirk because that is what he’s good at. And, more importantly, it’s believable. He clearly doesn’t feel that shagging his way through North London is a big deal, and he’s so sure of himself that he manages to convince the audience too.

Vladimir Putin does the opposite thing, oddly enough, but to the same effect. Rather than going out of his way to look like a politician, he behaves exactly like what he is: an ex-KGB goon. And – as with Boris Johnson – the approach is more effective than the identikit borrowed-from-Tony-Blair politician’s standard issue persona would be.

Take this example (largely because the comic timing of the last line never fails to have me in stitches):

He’s not using any of the little tricks that a bog-standard grifter like me would deploy to focus attention on themselves (if anything, it looks like he’s the one who’s been summoned for a good bollocking, rather than the other way round), and because of that he’s actually more successful in doing so. We all now know that this is someone so scary that he doesn’t even have to make an effort.

Of course, if you want to try this then you need to have the force of character to back it up. Ed Miliband couldn’t decide tomorrow ‘Well, the vague OE schtick works for Boris, so from now on I’m going to do it.’ People might not necessarily pick up on the manipulative undertones of certain gestures, but they can always spot a fake personality: