I don’t mean the unremarkable ‘revolution in beige’, and this is not intended as a criticism. Dullness us a huge political virtue in England. From Lord Hartington to Staley Baldwin, with his slogan ‘safety first’, dullness has propelled people to the very top.
The English trust dull people, as long as they stay unremittingly dull. They know they are never doing to say anything clever, or flashy, never going to pull the wool over our eyes, or put out dodgy dossiers. It may be a delusion of course – Corby and his cronies may turn out to be the very opposite of dull – but eschewing spin to such a large and foolhardy extent does invite trust.
What really struck me about the infamous Battle of Britain service episode wasn’t so much the singing, or non-singing, of the national anthem (and who gets asked to sing the national anthem in normal circumstances – I don’t think I have for years?), it was the top button left undone with a tie.
Just for his complete failure to look at himself in the mirror I found myself trusting the man.
There are some English men who leave their front doors magnificently attired, not a hair out of place, their trousers pressed. There are some – and I count myself among this number – who find this feat quite impossible.
Many journalists (print journalists, the TV journalists all keep combs in close proximity) are the same. Crumpled, unbrushed hair, no mirror. It is a sign, I believe – not of a lack of introspection – but at least a distrust of appearances.
I’m not really an admirer of Corbyn’s opinions, and I deeply distrust those around him. But for his undone top button – a symbol of a certain kind of Englishness – I trust him a little more this morning than I did last week.
In fact, let’s start a small campaign. As a small symbol of resistance to mirrors in general, and the fashion industry in particular, I’m going to leave my top button undone next time I wear a tie. I’m not going to let Corbyn corner the market in Englishness.