More Wallace (and Gromit) than Wolverine: wide eyed; toothy (big teeth, Prince Andrew-style), lip curled in a near-sneer that doesn’t dare – actually. Aged 42 but still the boyish sort to say ‘actually’, even if the word did not actually figure in his speech (Ed Miliband, leader’s address to the Labour Party conference, Tuesday 2nd October 2012). Actual figure of speech was ‘my story’: my exiled parents found their haven in Britain’s anti-fascist war; I myself was nurtured by ‘our country’s’ comprehensive system of education. Made me what I am today. In brief (the speech itself went on for 64 minutes), the Story of Miliband Minor is equivalent to: Harry Potter leaves Hogwarts to join the Woodcraft Folk and afterwards the Anti-Apartheid Movement, before climbing onto Uncle Gordon’s career ladder (Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband’s mentor; former UK prime minister, chancellor of the exchequer, and Labour leader). Wizard!, actually. Yes, Ed is herbivore to the core. On the other hand, during his speech there were rare moments of swarthy authority, in which the face of ‘Mr Leader’ (so called by ‘Mr Forgetful’, US presidential candidate Mitt Romney, on a visit to Britain in July), framed by a new, swept-back hairstyle (Pompadour rather than College Boy), temporarily lost its habitually pale demeanour. But to retain the idea of Mr Miliband in a position of red-blooded power, we must shut our eyes to the way he kept closing his – just for a second, as he strained to remember the words of his own life story.
Winsome from Wisconsin. The Ruminating Republican. If Mitt Romney is wooden, his vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan is Woody from Toy Story. Were he conventionally handsome it might cramp the style of the senior partner. But instead of the mature man, Ryan (42) is Mr Almost Grown. Absolutely not Mercutio, more like Sugarfoot or the Sundance Kid (though not as fully formed as Robert Redford), especially with his lips forming a rueful curve and his hair brushed forward to evoke the crew-cut-that-used-to-be. Whether or not it ever was, there is now a poignant contrast with Romney’s slicked back coif: elder to younger; generation to generation. Ryan is a picture of what integrity looks like just before it draws to a close. That’s his image, anyway, and with proceedings delayed because of Isaac storming the town, at the Republican National Convention there’s not much to do but doodle.