WE are sitting in the car talking about Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour leader is on the front of GQ magazine, touched up a little but looking smart in his M&S suit and customary red tie.
You wouldn’t have thought that such a starry cover slot could have led to another one of those rows – you know, the ones where the thinner-skinned disciples of Jeremy take offence on his behalf.
But that would be to reckon without yesterday’s BBC Today programme interview with Dylan Jones, editor of GQ. He told the BBC that Mr Corbyn’s photo shot was “as difficult as shooting any Hollywood celebrity”.
Jones said many politicians had appeared on his cover, but none had arrived with such a ‘ring’ of ‘gatekeepers’ intent on minding their charge.
What seems to have annoyed the easily outraged disciples of Jeremy is that Jones claimed that behind the Labour leader’s “rock star persona” he was “underwhelming” in person.
Here’s the bit that really got under their skin…
“When he actually turned up for the shoot it was almost like he was being pushed around like a grandpa for the family Christmas photograph. He wasn’t particularly aware of what was going on. But we’re very pleased with what we ended up with.”
The endlessly offended took to Twitter to express their anger, crying “hatchet job” and pointing out that Jones was a Tory supporter who once wrote a book about David Cameron. This crawly exercise, by the way, was thrillingly titled Cameron On Cameron, and contained a series of interviews with the former Tory PM. According to reports, Jones paid £20,000 for the privilege of conducting those interviews
One of the usual suspects, an ardently ‘pro’ blog, brandished the Corbyn cudgels and said the interview was the third time in a week that the BBC has dissed the Labour leader, or something like that.
Anyway, none of that was what we talked about in the car. Instead, we discussed the demands of performance. This was partly because my wife was singing with her choir last night; and partly because we’ve been this way before.
The thing about performance is that you hold back in rehearsals; performance is animating, and getting to that point requires restraint. A comedian off stage is not the same as a comedian in the middle of his act; a violinist playing a demanding piece doesn’t give her all in the rehearsal, keeping something back for the performance.
And politics is a performance, too. The Jeremy Corbyn who wowed the Glastonbury crowds with on full-pelt oratory is not the same Jeremy Corbyn who kicks his heels during a photo-shoot. And you wouldn’t expect him to be.
For Dylan Jones to find Corbyn ‘underwhelming’ in person is then hardly surprising – although it was surprising to discover, thanks to Huffington Post, that Jones wasn’t there for the photo-shoot and was reportedly relying on what he was told.
Oh, Jeremy Corbyn looks the part on the cover of GQ, and this row – like so many in the past – is essentially a silly bit of outrage about not very much.
The more serious question to ask is whether Corbyn will ever get the chance to look the part at the door of Ten Downing Street. The Tories are certainly in grave disarray, but could well stagger on long enough for the shine to dull on Corbyn’s late-career ascendancy.
Well, that nicely took up the journey from Morrison’s to home.