We’re witnessing a new clear arms race

Cat James

As summer retreats, across the land eager faces count down the days. Have you been naughty? Or have you been nice? It doesn’t matter — that tubby red-faced man with luxuriant white hair will bestow upon us all gifts of unimaginable greatness.

Sorry, did you think I was talking about Father Christmas? No, I was referring to that other monomaniacal fella triggered by our Victorian past — the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. There are thirteen more sleeps until Brexit Day, kiddies.

We know Mr Johnson will Get Brexit Done because it said so on his mug. No, not the one blustering from under that artfully dishevelled barnet, but the ceramic one he held aloft while at the Conservative party conference. We also know he Means Business, as he had his sleeves rolled up while jabbing at his laptop.

I’ve worked in an office for nigh-on thirty years and I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of my male colleagues’ forearms. Operating a computer is not the same as, say, working a combine — Boris’ cuffs could easily stay fastened at the wrist, without any danger of getting entangled in his MacBook’s mechanism. Nonetheless, the rolled sleeve is a surprisingly powerful symbol.

Since his electoral victory, the Island’s own MP, Bob Seely, is often seen jacketless with shirt sleeves up to his elbows — particularly when being photographed talking with his constituents, possibly to demonstrate that he is a regular chap of the people.

Knowing how competitive fellas can get, surely this bare-arms race can only escalate? What next? A loosened tie? Strategic unbuttoning? Or maybe full on bare-chested Putin? If exposing an untoned forearm can give the impression of being a Man of Action, imagine what being stripped to the waist could do for the Prime Minister’s cachet? Entering the Brexit negotiations topless and chest-bumping Michel Barnier is surely the next logical step.

Perhaps I should rein it in before I start suggesting naked wrestling as a way to resolve international conflict.

Back in the land of the fully dressed, maybe the chaps could learn a more subtle thing or two about weaponising their wardrobe from Lady Hale who, in her role as President of the Supreme Court, read out the ruling that Boris Johnson’s advice to the Queen that parliament should be prorogued was unlawful. While the nation hung on her words, accessory-watchers were all a-fluster about her ginormous spider brooch. What could it mean? If Lady Hale was the spider, who was the fly?

But even Lady Hale must defer to the ultimate signaller, Her Majesty the Queen. When she opened Parliament a year after the EU referendum, HRH was dressed head to toe in cornflower blue, finishing her look with a matching wide-brimmed hat enlivened by yellow-centred blue flowers. Top of the agenda for her speech that day was Brexit — you don’t need a degree in semiotics to decode that particular outfit.

Happy Brexit, each and every one! Let’s hope you get everything you wished for.

This article first appeared in print in the Isle of Wight County Press on 18 October 2019, and also online.

Cat James

Graphic designer, creative director of Pinkeye Graphics, Isle of Wight County Press columnist, Cat out of Matt and Cat

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