Having, four weeks ago, likened himself to Heathcliff – the brooding protagonist in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights – Gordon Brown has written of how he is inspired by a hero whose career ended in tragic, frozen failure.
If ever a person were more out in the cold than the Prime Minister, it was Captain Robert Falcon Scott of the Antarctic. His 1912 race to the South Pole ended when his team was beaten by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen's. Scott and some of his men froze to death on their return.
In words that will amuse his opponents, and which bring to mind his travails to reach No 10, Mr Brown writes in a charity anthology, Wow! 366, of an encyclopaedia his parents gave him when he was ten: "I learned that 50 years before, someone called Captain Scott had set out for the South Pole, a place far, far away and very cold. But when his team reached the South Pole, they discovered someone else had got there first. And on the way back to their ship it got worse. They ran out of food and died in the cold."
A sad story, as Mr Brown acknowledges, but a brave adventure. He adds: "I know I'll never be an explorer or a great footballer, but I am quite happy as a politician. And, in a way, my life is still a voyage of discovery that began with reading books."
He recommends two to younger readers: Thomas the Tank Engine (1946), by the Rev W Awdry, and The Complete Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales (1812), by the German academics Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm.Reuse content