Pizza Express’s cheese-and-basil portraits of the party leaders brought a welcome element of fun to the lacklustre election campaign.
What price spontaneity? In this most choreographed of election campaigns, anything that jumps out of the woodwork or off the plate to surprise us is a blessed relief.
I enjoyed Pizza Express’s contribution to the democratic process last week – the unveiling of pizzas bearing portraits of the candidates in basil and tomato. The Daily Mail, possibly despairing of its traditional role of trying to get us to take the Tories seriously, devoted a whole double-page spread to it.
Whether mozzarella’s melt-rate can be calculated to the precision required to produce a perfect Gordon Brown every time, I have no idea. But there’s no doubt it brings a new urgency to the question of whether Charles Kennedy does or doesn’t deserve the epithet “pizza face”.
Given that everyone involved in the practical side of the election – MPs, agents, canvassers, drivers, speechwriters, journalists, cameramen, pundits, PRs and returning officers – lives on takeaway food during the four-week run-up, the idea has a nice synergy with its inspiration, while still managing to display a healthy disrespect for our leaders by turning them into food.
Comment from Jamie Oliver? For once, thank God, no.
Less credible was an attempt by authorities in the US to use humiliation to control the public’s perception of vicious criminals. The roughest, toughest, meanest mothers in the “pen” were taken out of jail and paraded through the streets in irons and wearing nothing but bright pink boxer shorts.
Whether attaching such an overtly gay tag to this particular collection of murderers, rapists and psychopaths was wise I doubt strongly. It looked more like a scene from an aged Burt Reynolds “comedy” in which appalling racist rednecks are allowed to appear comical but cuddly.
You don’t change the perception of criminals by ridiculing them and alienating them still further; and you don’t change the public’s view by pretending evil loses its bite if you wrap it up in paisley and cashmere.
Mind you, there could be benefits: a pink-boxer-short-clad chain gang has a certain Mel Brooks feel to it, as if the men may suddenly throw away their pickaxes and burst into a Village People song and dance routine.
Ah yes, choreography: even walking about is now prey to the director’s whim. Walks on TV in this election campaign involve planning to the nth degree, with routes agreed, stops and “impromptu” pauses carefully gaffer-taped – literally, using tape stuck on the pavement showing the PM (or whoever) where to stop and in which direction to look.
One reflection of this pre-planned, microwave electioneering could be that the public trots out a similar brand of ready-made, “no-brainer” answers when confronted by the pollsters.
Wouldn’t it be exciting on Thursday week if nobody did what they said they were going to do, and acted out of character just for fun? Fun (humorous pizzas notwithstanding) being a noted absentee from the present sluggish proceedings. But I fear there is as much chance of that as Tony’s team taking to the streets in pink boxers