May 18, 2010
Niles: I’m afraid of what the humidity might do to these loafers. Does calfskin pucker?
Frasier: Yes, Niles. That’s why, on humid farms, the calf is the most made-fun-of of all the animals.
Labour’s psychodrama is intriguing, and pleasingly accessible. For the past two decades, its tropes have been easily read by any fool with a copy of Brewer’s Phrase and Fable.
On balance, the overarching symbolic scaffold is Shakespearian: Brown’s blinded, roaring patriarch stumbling (sl-o-o-wly) towards Dover’s cliff; Mandelson’s freakish but kinda-adorable combo of whispering Iago and fine-calved Malvolio, doing his thing; and Ed Balls as dull Laertes.
Who, then, could have predicted that it would be Frasier that would, in the final act, provide the metaphor for Labour’s catastasis?
But there we go. Impossible to know how or where pop culture will work its magic.
Sulloway has a – possibly bullshit – theory that an individual’s politics are stamped by birth order: first-born = loyal conformist, later-borns = freewheelin’ peddlars of unorthodoxy. I put this once to Ed Miliband, and it’s fair to say he was dismissive of my socio-therapeutic line of questioning.
But now, as the brothers Miliband thunder towards their own fraternal denouement, I feel a chorus-like compulsion to shriek: Ed, my darling – take care.
Don’t forget your Greek archetypes, and certainly don’t forget your Frasier. Because someone in this fight is going to be the big swingy-balled bull, and someone is going to be the puckered calf.