Michael Gove by Rowan Tallant

Politics Live: Peacocks, Lycra and projection

red-road-signA sight for sore eyes

Politics Live Weekdays, lunchtime, BBC Two

What is this thing with middle-aged men and their obsession with projecting virility? And mostly men in positions of power and influence, attempting displays of their athletic prowess … as if they ever had any sporting ability.

I dropped in for a Brexit-debate fix, really out of the fear it might be the last word on the subject. Only to be faced with the appalling vista of Michael Gove striding around the corner of a west London street in full jogging gear, finishing the final ten yards of this laughable PR setup at a pace Mo Farah would have been proud of.

But there were a few aspects of this Nietzsche-like homo superior display that raised questions about the veracity of the puffed-up production.

No sweat: most folks of that age are bathed in lather running 100m for a bus they always miss (I didn’t vote Brexit for you to leave yards out of it, mate – Ed) . Fault one in the scenario.

Wearing glasses: no-one wears their glasses when going out for a lung-bursting run. Show me any athlete that does. Edgar Davids wore wraparound glasses, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of basketball’s greats, didn’t, so come on, who are we trying to kid?

Man boobs: it’s a tough one, and body shaming is not our business, but no-one wants to see that. Although, for some, a tantalising glimpse might float their boat. But if you’re as sporting and virile as your PR team would like to project, surely you’d have run them off? Or perhaps it’s just a shrewd piece of insurance for a post-Brexit failure? A readymade, non-executive directorship for a company offering sports bras for men.

MAMIL: middle-aged men in Lycra. The only plus to this farce is that Gove didn’t clad himself in that sickeningly clingy sports gear. This whole trend of fat, middle-aged guys riding their Bradley Wiggins-endorsed cycles in outfits that leave nothing to the imagination is frankly harrowing. There is an offence called indecent exposure. It needs to be enforced.

Gove by Tallant

But Gove is only the latest character to exhibit this trait. Vladimir Putin on his hols in Siberia doing barechested mannish wrestling springs to mind. Please. No-one needs to see that.

Another member of the Brexit Gang of Four is Boris Johnson. What’s that thing with his skull and crossbones bandanas? He’s well used to ridiculous fancy dress, having gone to Eton – or just “school” as they so tirelessly tell those who didn’t – but at what age do you stop trying to be down with the kids and achieve only parody?

We’ve gone massively off piste here, and what started as a cogent review of Politics Live has descended in to a rant. But so what?

And a word of warning to these wannabe supermen. US president 1977-81 Jimmy Carter was, in fairness to him, way ahead of the curve on virility projection. But, to his cost, he was not the first to find out life is what happens when you’re busy planning a better photo op.

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