Oh Lord. Did you think I meant something vulgar? Not a bit of it. Vulgar comment about Caroline Flint would be like, well, shagging Mary Poppins’ aunt. Unseemly. None of that here, not in this post anyway.
No, I meant up your nose, where the photographer from the Times managed to get when illustrating Dominic Kennedy’s article of 27 June. The article itself sought to explain Ms Flint’s mission to reform us all by reference to the hardships of her youth. Her mother died young, of alcoholism, and she herself had to pull pints in a pub.
Well, I am sorry about your mother and your tough life, but why take it out on us? There are plenty of people within the remit of the NHS who actually want attention. Those denied the drugs Lucentis and Avastin which would arrest their Macular Degeneration but who are denied the relatively cheap cure and left to go blind. Those who are admitted to NHS hospitals and are given MRSA. There are all sorts of people who would have benefited from a fraction of the time and resources devoted to stopping them smoking in the pub and who would have been grateful. Not enough publicity in just fixing problems, perhaps.
But to revert to the photograph. Most photographs of Caroline Flint are of the airbrushed dim bimbo type, with that curious facsimile of a smile she has, with lots of teeth, like a horse who can’t quite see the joke but is trying not to show it. This one was different.
The camera is low down, level with her waist, or rather, where her usual pictures show a waist, and looking straight up Ms Flint’s nose. The lighting is harsh and unbalanced. Her pupils look dilated, her teeth more Dracula than her usual donkey-at-the-dentist. She is wearing a shapeless top like a char’s housecoat and if I were to describe what appears to lie beneath (which I won’t) it would only be to cheer the contrast between this photograph and the usual publicity shots. Caroline Flint is in so many ways a metaphor for the unreal gloss of Blair’s New Labour that it is refreshing to see the reality.
There is a table, empty but for a mug and a few papers. The wall behind is grey and plain. The effect is of a prison wardress on her coffee break.
It is brilliant, capturing the essence of the woman perfectly. I simply don’t understand how she let it happen.
Some time later: I think I have worked it out. See Dressing down for Gordon Brown.