I hardly ever buy a daily paper during in the week nowadays. It seems silly when you can read so much online or watch it on the box. I do usually buy a Guardian on Saturdays, mainly spurred on by my nearest and dearest's enthusiasm for "The Guide" which is the handiest telly guide around (as well as covering a lot of other stuff which we never read).
Sometimes I miss a Saturday, especially if I haven't yet read the previous week's non-news sections. I then spend a weekend catching up. It is one of my small contributions to the health of the planet.
That is a very long-winded excuse for only now having read the two in depth party leader interviews from last weekend's glossy magazines.
As usual I nervously insist that I did not buy the Mail on Sunday. A relative of right-wing persuasion kindly gave me the MoS glossy Live. This featured Nick Clegg on its front cover and over several pages. The interview is a glorified rehash of the all the little Clegg Cacti arson/30 lovers/don't like to talk about drugs stories. It does, however, enlighten us with the fact that Clegg went to a New York fancy dress party with Marcel Theroux dressed as a female character from The Simpsons. What the article doesn't divulge is which character Clegg dressed as, although it mentions that huge wigs were involved. The next cutting-edge journalist who interviews Clegg really ought to find out which character he was dressed up as. Marge Simpson? I think we should be told. Oh, do let it be Marge! The vision of Clegg as Marge is absolutely delicious. Oh let there be a photo somewhere of this!
Anyway, apart from that, the MoS Live article is mainly notable for some excellent photography by Ian Derry, including the prominent cover shot which I reproduce below.
The Guardian Weekend article on Brown is really very well observed and written, by Katharine Viner. It's worth a read. You have to admire Brown's resilience, but it seems that his very resilience is born out of a lack of self-awareness. He is the ultimate bunker politician. He's not a very good communicator, he admits. That is a problem with a modern Prime Minister. Viner mentions that Brown is totally different in private, where he is very engaging. Well, that's no good is it? We're all good in private, for goodness sake. But if you are Prime Minister you have to C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-E. They also said John Major was very good in private. Big deal. He was also useless at communicating in public, which was his main job.
Viner ends with an interesting observation. During several long meetings with Brown, Viner "never once saw him perform that strange, lower-jaw breathing manoeuvre he so often executes in public." That's amazing isn't it? Brown reserves his goldfish impersonation just for the public. Very good of him.
Viner concludes interestingly:
His image is fusty and secretive, but he's the first prime minister to sit in an open-plan office in Downing Street. To me he spoke fluently and with passion. He sounded like a normal person.
The prime minister is a man of such paradoxes. He is now convinced free market solutions can't work, but is still privatising parts of the Royal Mail and the health service. He passes strong legislation on women while appointing few to top positions. He sees himself as a good person, but employs others to do his dirty work. He wants to stay as prime minister, but longs to get out of No 10, govern from a train, become a teacher. As he says himself, "It's a strange life, really."