Christina Patterson: Angelina Jolie and the bank manager

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The Independent Online

So Gordon Brown has been anointed by Angelina Jolie. Oh dear. There is, luckily for the Government, no suggestion that the bump that has triggered so much intelligent media debate over the past few months - or is it years? - has sprung from any loins other than those of her exquisitely athletic, and versatile, film-star fiancé. (When you're that beautiful, Tracey, you get looks as well as power. You don't have to settle for a few fumblings from a man whose grasp of sexual technique is clearly on a par with his grip on the subjunctive.) Angelina has yet to make any major pronouncements on the Chancellor's fiscal policy, but, speaking "personally", she would "like to see" him as leader of our quaint little country.

She is currently enjoying a visit to another quaint little country. She and Brad are spending the annual budget of a large African hospital on their stay at the Burning Shores in Namibia, where they plan to produce their little Pitt. Jolie is keen to have an African birth. Not the kind, apparently, that involves squatting over a hole and dying of septicaemia, but the kind that involves renting all 14 suites of a luxury resort. She's already adopted one gorgeous little Ethiopian child, so she knows a lot about African culture.

In this, and her desire to combat global poverty, she's got so much in common with Gordon. As long as he's not wearing a vial of her blood, I think it's a storm he can weather. Keep your head down, Gordon. Refuse to comment (you've been very good at that this week) and, if pressed, just give one of those funny little rictus smiles that somebody's been training you to swap for those scowls.

It has been going so well. If we can just toss aside the toddler temper-tantrums between Britain's most powerful next-door neighbours, and draw a veil over those Biggles ear-phones, the Brown image appears pretty robust. The man who got married in his own dining room, and who treated the guests to chain-store sandwiches, remains, in a world of growing political greed, sober, modest and engagingly like a bank manager.

David Cameron would rather die than be compared to a bank manager. That would, in any case, be far too proletarian an occupation for the man who wants to be a super-cool mix of Mother Theresa, Anita Roddick and, er, Robbie Williams, whose hairdresser he apparently shares.

This month's GQ cover boy (never mind Kate Winslet's thighs, someone's done something to that pudgy potato-face) shares the Pope's predilection for designer labels, but is also more than happy to don puffa jackets or jogging bottoms for image-boosting photoshoots. It's too early, of course, to predict precisely which ensemble he'll select for the opening of the solar-powered hostel for homeless he's planning in his Notting Hill backyard, but you can be sure it will be gorgeous. No bank manager, you, Dave. More, much more, a trendy vicar.

"Colourful" is surely a quality that works better in children's paintings than in politicians. Bandanas and baseball caps rarely enhance a person's gravitas. Nor do daily blow-dries that cost more than a week in Torremolinos. We have, in any case, quite a strong affection for the Shirley Williams birdnest or the Mo Mowlam mix of wisp with Bobby Charlton bald. It's quite nice to think that the minds of the people who run our country might be fixed on matters other than the cut of their coat or the quality of their coiffure. Give me a politician in a high-street suit. But not sexually, please.

Every writer is a cannibal

Writer Draws on Own Life in Fiction Shock Horror. Yes, it's happened again. This time the wounded party is Alison Summers, ex-wife of Peter Carey, who claims that his new novel is a vindictive attempt to smear her.

In recent years, Philip Roth, Hanif Kureishi and Tony Parsons have all been accused of cannibalising their private lives. This, of course, is what writers do. All fiction is peppered with portraits of writers' friends and families. Spotting them can be half the fun - until, that is, as happened to half of literary London on reading Amanda Craig's novel, A Vicious Circle, you stumble on a cameo that's a little too close to home. It was Graham Greene who talked of the writer's "splinter of ice in the heart". If you cherish your privacy, keep well away.

* It would be extremely unkind to rate professions in terms of their physical attractiveness, but sometimes it's hard to resist. The first shock of last week was the parade of Hogarthian grotesques wheeled out as candidates for the role of England manager. I thought fresh air and exercise were meant to be good for you, but if Blair et al want to encourage us to take more of both, they'd better keep this lot locked in a cupboard.

The second was the nurses. The baying bunch who harangued Patricia Hewitt last week couldn't have been further from the fantasy that has kept sex-shop sales of saucy uniforms steady. My own experience of nurses in recent years has been one of surliness bordering on aggression. Perhaps unhappiness has made them ugly - but they need to get a grip. Sick people may not need beauty, but they do need a modicum of kindness.

c.patterson@independent.co.uk

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