Hit & Run: Snog, marry, avoid?

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The Independent Online

Pub chitchat after a long day in the office is wont to veer towards gossipy banter over insightful political analysis. So imagine the glee at the opportunity to combine the two following Monday's Ask the Chancellors debate on Channel 4.

The debate itself was, well, dull. But apply to the speakers BBC 3's parlour game Snog, Marry, Avoid and you have an excellent method for weighing the three up.

Before you ask, no there isn't anything remotely fickle about reducing politicians to mere romantic interests. It's our vote they're desperately trying to snare this year. One can barely open a women's magazine in search of a bit of shoe candy without finding a senior politician explaining why his party is the failsafe housewives' choice.

Check out yesterday's Grazia, for which Gordon Brown opened his home to arts broadcaster Lauren Laverne, revealing that he loves a good romcom and is kept awake worrying about flexible working hours for mothers.

In Elle, all three leaders submit to editor Lorraine Candy's interrogation over their plans for the fashion industry. (David Cameron: "I know how important the fashion industry is. It employs my wife.")

Nick Clegg, however, may have alienated the female vote back in 2008 when he boasted about his sexual prowess to GQ. Is any of this glossy posturing effective? Well, without that Grazia interview, who would have known that Brown has a special relationship with French Premier Nicolas Sarkozy, trading mildly smutty jokes and "jovial shoulder-punching"?

These interviews also provide some insight, however manicured, into policies for those who missed that dragging chancellors' debate. And for the record, the Snog, Marry, Avoid filter works rather well with the potential Chancellors.

I say, avoid George Osborne at all costs. He's a slippery posho who thinks in terms of lessening the blow of the phenomenal national debt for the super rich, rather than making it worthwhile for the lowest earners to return to work and mid-level earners to stay put. He also boasts the physical allure of a bloated slug.

Affable Vince Cable would get a quick smooch but no more – twinkle-toed he may be, but there's more than a touch of the kindly granddad about him. And I haven't seen enough of his shadow cabinet's balls yet to convince me they could go the distance.

So it's to Alistair Darling and Labour I betroth myself. Say what you like about a two-tone hair-and-eyebrows combo, he's the best of a bad bunch politically – and physically. Like I said, if I had to choose one. Sophie Morris

What not to call your memoirs

Raquel Welch, at almost 70, publishes her autobiography tomorrow. It's called Beyond the Cleavage. The dust jacket, sadly, does not feature the author's famous embonpoint, settling for a charming off-the shoulder black frock suitable to a lady of her years. In the book she groaningly distances herself, as a serious actress, from the bosomy sex goddess who once knocked the boys dead in the stalls by wearing a fur bikini in One Million Years BC; instead, she offers sensible advice to like-minded sexagenarians, about ageing flesh, plastic surgery and menopausal issues. But the word 'cleavage' sits there in the title, winking and beckoning and reminding us of the reason Ms Welch was famous. It joins the swelling ranks of recent autobiographies with unfortunate titles. Beckham: Both Feet on the Ground by the footballing legend was an unfortunate choice (will it be re-done as Beckham: One Foot in a Harness?) Playing With Fire by Gordon Ramsay came out just before his restaurant empire was comprehensively burnt. The late-flowering politician Esther Rantzen's book If Not Now, When? prompts voters to cry, "How about never, Esther? Is never good for you?" You can't be too careful you're your autobiography title. Originally, Raquel's book was to be called The Secrets of Timeless Appeal. Maybe she should have stuck with that. And so should Esther. And Gordon. And David... John Walsh

No weather for leather

You can run but you can't hide – well, you can, but you might not want to. Confused? You should be. That's because leather – in the form of dresses, T-shirts and even, gulp, shorts, is being billed as the fabric of the summer.

Call me old-fashioned, but leather has to be the worst material you could make summer clothes from. It's guaranteed to make you sweat, you'll have to peel yourself out of any garments made from it and you can't wash it.

It doesn't matter how chic you look – you're going to smell of old sweat. Fashion types of my acquaintance tell me there are two ways round this. Either use wet wipes to freshen up key areas (and let's not forget those areas are armpits and undercarriages), or slip a cotton vest under those leather shirts and shifts. Which means wearing an extra layer under an already toasty ensemble. This is madness. Let's leave the leather to the cows come June. Rebecca Armstrong

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