Minor British Institutions: The rogue
Saturday 02 July 2011
The British have always been susceptible to a rogue, factual, fictional or a bit of both, from Robin Hood to Falstaff to handsome highwaymen to Arthur Daley and Derek Trotter. It's the attraction of opposites, of the mischievous to an essentially staid nation.
Lately, though, we have been rather lacking: there's a vacancy for Chief Rogue. It is a nuanced niche; for one, it requires charm, which disqualifies the Duke of York and Frankie Boyle. And you must have wit: farewell, sportspeople, soap operators and reality stars. You can be too dangerous: goodbye, Pete Doherty and Tony Blair. Or only comparatively: thank you, Prince Harry.
Women like them, but are far too sensible to be one. You must not injunct. You must appear neither too nice to be really nasty nor too naughty to be really nice: sorry, Graham Norton, Jonathan Ross. Ambition is fine, but any hint of an inner seriousness is not, and excludes a final contender, Boris Johnson. This is an institution in crisis.
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