Sunday, July 08, 2007


New Prime Minister Gordon Brown, legendary writer J K Rowling, released BBC hostage Alan Johnston, racing whiz kid Lewis Hamilton and a matching grey dress and coat from M&S’s Autograph range may be straws in a wind of change.
Goodness knows Brown is no leader and a fair degree of childishness has marked his early days as PM. First there was his temper tantrum when the Metropolitan Police followed the correct drill and awoke Home Secretary Jacqui Smith at 3am with news of the attempted London bombing and let him sleep till 6am before informing him.
Brown felt he should have been told first and could become one of those bosses who feel so threatened and insecure they keep reminding staff they’re in charge.
Last week, on his debut at Prime Minister’s Questions, when he was having difficulty answering a simple question from the lightweight butterfly PR man who leads the Conservatives, David Cameron, he pleaded with the Speaker for help.
‘I’ve only been in this job five days,’ Brown whined (actually it was seven) like a child appealing to the teacher because he was being bullied by an older boy.
But, like Rowling, Johnston and Hamilton, Brown has that old-fashioned thing called substance – a solid track record of achievements before he got the top job and prime place in the spotlight.
J K Rowling spent seventeen years creating the Harry Potter novels.
Alan Johnston slogged for years diligently reporting from unenviable postings for the BBC’s World Service – he was in Kabul prior to Gaza – before his release from captivity put him in the global media spotlight.
Unlike Andy Murray, who has been hyped as God’s gift to British tennis but has yet to win a Grand Slam or major championship, Lewis Hamilton has just gone out on to the racing track and won from the start.
The publicity is following him, not announcing what it is hoped he will do one day.
And that’s the point. All four individuals have achieved professional success and their careers are the reverse of the instant fame individuals who hope fame will bring career success.
Though Hamilton takes fame easily in his stride and cheerfully does TV interviews because it goes with the territory, J K Rowling endures it and both Brown and Johnston seem uncomfortable with it – as if it’s getting in the way and diverting them from what they want to do.
Brown continues to struggle to smile and ‘lighten up’ when the TV cameras are around and even last night, back with his family in the green Argyll hills of home, Johnston still appeared slightly embarrassed that he had become the story.
The job this modest man knows and loves is to tell the story and stay in the background and, once he has recovered from his ordeal, hopes to return to doing just that - unlike the ‘dish monkey’ and ‘dish bitch’ reporters who can’t thrust their mugs often enough at the cameras, usually from hotel roofs far from the action of the stories they are supposed to be covering.
And that M&S Autograph outfit? It’s the 1950s since a dress and coat was much in fashion, the days when you had to achieve a lot before you could be famous.
Its appearance in a top popular range just might be a reflection on High Street that people are fed up with the smoke and mirrors personalities of the instant fame brigade and long to look up to individuals who have achieved something in life.
Perhaps real heroes and heroines are on their way back.
It should be no surprise to anyone that a politician, former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, was the first person to be caught breaking the new anti-smoking law which he supported in Parliament. Because that’s what politicians so often do – make laws for other people without feeling obliged to honour these laws themselves. The fact that smoking is not illegal in the Houses of Parliament and, despite a voluntary ban, still goes on there says it all. Copyright © Rebecca Hamilton 2007. All Rights Reserved

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