The lothario of Montgomeryshire

katie-green

The young lady above is called Katie Green. She’s been in the news a few times in recent months, but for the benefit of this blog’s high-minded readers it may be worth recapping why. Last summer, Ms Green won a competition to model for Wonderbra. Then, by her account, they referred her to a model agency, where she was unbelievably – no, actually, all too believably – told that she was too fat and she needed to lose two stone, as they wouldn’t have anyone on their books who was more than a size ten. Which says a lot about the modelling world, if this woman can be considered too fat to be a viable proposition.

Katie then went public with this story. That got her into the papers again. Rival bra magnate Michelle Mone, who can spot a PR opportunity a mile off, headhunted her to be the face (well, I say face, but you know what I mean) of Ultimo. And Katie has turned her experience into a campaign against the size zero culture. Fair enough, and I wish her luck. Young women have enough problems with the images portrayed by the media, and any turning of the tide against the idea that women should look like pre-pubescent boys is welcome. Sometimes you would get the impression that the fashion and advertising industries are actively trying to promote eating disorders.

But that’s all by the by. The aspect of this story that caught my eye was this:

lembit-katie

Yes, you recognise that bloke. It’s Liberal Democrat MP, classic motorcycle enthusiast, asteroid aficionado and all-round man about town Lembit Öpik. What, you may ask, is a respectable politician doing hobnobbing with a lingerie model half his age? Officially, Westminster’s answer to George Clooney is simply helping Katie with some ideas about how to publicise her Say No To Size Zero campaign. Unofficially – or at least according to the Mail – it doesn’t seem to have taken him long to get over his Cheeky Girls heartbreak.

Well, one salutes his indefatigability, of course. And I must say, there’s something oddly engaging about Lembit. I remember it was said of the late Clement Freud that, having established himself as a noted wit and media personality, he decided to become an MP so people would take him more seriously. With his party colleague Lembit, the opposite seems to apply. I sometimes get the impression that he became an MP so as to be better placed to blag invites to showbiz parties. Maybe, if he hadn’t become an MP, I would be sharing a drink with him at sci-fi conventions.

Be that as it may, let’s not forget that, while Lembit is the nearest thing we have to an MP for Heat magazine, in formal constitutional terms he also has actual electors. And I often wonder what the conservative Methodist farmers of Montgomeryshire make of their representative’s swinging lifestyle. Actually, they probably love it, on the principle that Lembit’s life of glamour brings some reflected lustre to the area. Certainly, he’s the most colourful character in Welsh politics, at least unless someone can convince Greatest Living Welshman Howard Marks to take a run at the ballot box.

In related Liberal Democrat news, teenage Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson has called for a crackdown on airbrushing in ads aimed at young people, on precisely the grounds that unrealistic body images damage young girls. As Anton remarks, her point may have carried more weight if it was made elsewhere than in the Daily Mail, an organ that specialises in attacking female celebs for being either too fat or too thin, or occasionally looking a bit rough when papped without makeup.

And finally on this theme, a brief editorial note. Despite rumours to the contrary, I am not moonlighting at Stumbling and Mumbling.

16 Comments

  1. Phil said,

    August 4, 2009 at 7:43 am

    they probably love it, on the principle that Lembit’s life of glamour brings some reflected lustre to the area.

    I’ve never lived in Montgomeryshire (is it called that again?) but if Carmarthenshire’s anything to go by, bang on*. He’ll give them something to talk about. (Disapprovingly, of course. He’s a one!)

    Certainly, he’s the most colourful character in Welsh politics, at least unless someone can convince Greatest Living Welshman Howard Marks to take a run at the ballot box.

    Spare us.

    *Tautology Dept: I initially wrote “rural Carmarthenshire”, then remembered that it’s all rural.

  2. splinteredsunrise said,

    August 4, 2009 at 11:36 am

    I imagine there’s little else to talk about up around the Brecon Beacons…

  3. ejh said,

    August 4, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    I had the misfortune of attending a Howard Marks show once, being under the impression that he was an interesting man with useful things to say about the drug laws. What I found instead was an old stoner bore who rendered himself even more irritating than old stoner bores are normally, by being cheered on by an audience of young stoner bores as he droned his way through some stories about how he fooled the pigs at some airport who wanted to check out his luggage.

    I left at half-time.

  4. skidmarx said,

    August 4, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    an audience of young stoner bores
    Presumably you polled the audience to check that they were stoners, and listened to a representative sample of them to check that they were bores. Given Howard Marks’ general popularity, I’d suggest it’s you that’s out of step.

  5. Chris Bertram said,

    August 4, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Surely John Cale is the greatest living Welshman? (A better bet than Marks, anyway.)

  6. decent interval said,

    August 4, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Believe me it is possible to recognise an audience of stoner bores when you see one, providing only that you are not a stoner bore yourself. I have only had the misfortune of hearing Mr Marks once, on the radio; I didn’t know who it was and I honestly assumed that the person speaking was brain-damaged in some way. As to his general popularity, he seems to appear quite regularly near where I live speaking at a kind of low rent restaurant that doesn’t even have a drinks license and has to shut at 10 am, and which would have a maximum capacity of about 100, so I would be somewhat dubious about the extent to which he is held in general admiration. But I will let you get back to chuckling over your old Cheech and Chong albums, Skidmarx. .

  7. Guano said,

    August 4, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    The name of the parliamentary constituency is Montgomeryshire, but it is part of the administrative county of Powys that seems to cover about 20% of Wales.

  8. ejh said,

    August 4, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    I’d suggest it’s you that’s out of step.

    Quite possibly – but I comfort myself with the thought that I’d find it easier to keep in step than would the stoners….

  9. Jon said,

    August 4, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Certainly, he’s the most colourful character in Welsh politics, at least unless someone can convince Greatest Living Welshman Howard Marks to take a run at the ballot box.

    From Wikipedia:

    “Marks stood for election to UK Parliament in 1997, on the single issue of the legalization of cannabis. He contested four seats at once: Norwich South (against future Home Secretary Charles Clarke), Norwich North, Neath and Southampton Test. The average vote was over 1%. This led to the formation of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA) by Alun Buffry in 1999.”

    To be fair, this means he’s beaten both the Greens and Socialist Labour in elections.

  10. dsquared said,

    August 4, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    “the administrative county of Powys that seems to cover about 20% of Wales”

    … but which does actually cover 25% of the geographical area of Wales! And a whopping 4% of its population!

  11. splinteredsunrise said,

    August 4, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    I’ve passed through it a few times on the way to Aberystwyth. Reminds me of the west of Ireland, only more so. Lots of sheep, not many people.

  12. Phil said,

    August 5, 2009 at 7:52 am

    the west of Ireland, only more so

    I wouldn’t go quite that far.

  13. skidmarx said,

    August 5, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    decent interval – thanks for your dispensation. Dave’s not here.
    Mr.Marks did sell a lot of copies of Mr.Nice, and although the title points to the idea that his widespread likeability is somewhat self-reported, he does seem to have attracted some respect even from those chasing America’s Least Wanted.

  14. skidmarx said,

    August 5, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Just a better world:

  15. August 6, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    She is pretty.

  16. August 9, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    […] keeps giving, isn’t he? It’s only a matter of days ago that the swinging Lib Dem MP was making the news for canoodling with a lingerie model half his age. Indeed, they were even posing for photos […]


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