The kitchen is the most important room. All domestic, erotic and world-changing events happen in the kitchen. Everyone can feel sexy and daring in a kitchen, even someone called Gordon.
Gordon Brown is that boy at school. You know the one – the outsider. The one in the thick NHS glasses and an oversized tweed jacket with corduroy elbow pads, who stands up in front of the class to read a story but after two minutes all the kids get bored and start making sandcastles. He wants to befriends with that cool kid, the good-looking one, who is exciting, sexy and has a mysterious name. But that cool kid doesn’t want to know. He doesn’t want to be friends with someone who looks like Gollum. It cramps his style.
Apparently Gordon Brown had five times sought a meeting with Obama round at his place. It never happened. Russia, China and Japan all met Obama in New York, but he had his meeting with Gordon in akitchen. Discussing the Iranian nuclear crisis, climate change and the economy surrounded by basil, coriander and a blender is the best environment for that “special relationship” to develop. Our prime minister is like Nigella: he flourishes in the kitchen. With Nigella, it’s never about the cooking, always about the breasts. With Gordon, it’s never about the politics, always about the eyesight.
They couldn’t have done that in the bathroom – there is no eroticism with a bathroom. Everything to do with a bathroom just conjures up images of cleaning materials. Relationships flourish better with mayonnaise than with Vim. I’m sure this is why the Dutch prime minister wasn’t invited – “Neuken in de keuken.” The Dutch being fans of kitchen sex, poor Gordon wouldn’t have been able to get a word in, never mind a leg over.
Traditionally, women exert their power in the kitchen. At parties, women gather in the kitchen to slag off other women. It’s where the food and wine is stored, where people get drunk. It’s where you make the tea and coffee after a hangover, divorce or death. Some women spend most of their lives over a stove, cooking, washing, crying. As a student, I was awaitress at the Grosvenor House hotel in London. Itall happened in the kitchen. I saw people being fired, people falling asleep, fighting, screaming, poisoning. My mother has spent a lot of her life in a kitchen, but there’s nothing erotic about her time there. It depends on the kitchen itself, really. Ikea can give you splinters in the bum from unvarnished wood; DIY worktops can collapse from coital passion. My parents have never had this problem, and haven’t had to replace their kitchen in nearly 35 years. They have strictly sex-proof worktops especially imported from Pakistan.
If Brown loses the next election, maybe he can just retire to the kitchen. It’s what he really yearns for. The comfort and safety of the fridge (but probably not one of those big American ones), and a nice little kitchen sink drama. Not a big drama involving big countries and wars – Ithink that’s all too much for him. He’s still got time to get a set of saucepans on expenses before he leaves.
He started this entire prime minister lark, so he’s got to see it through, but it’s hideous to watch: when everyone wants you to go, but you hang on in there for your dignity. And even then it’s not guaranteed. Of all the things Brown could be questioned on, he is now at the stage of being asked if his eyesight is OK in the other eye. What will they ask next? “Mr Brown, you look a bit tired – have you had a stroke?” It’s like someone saying to me, “You look really brown. Have you been burnt?”
Politics is like showbuisness. All glamour on the outside – everyone claims to have a special relationship with US stars, travelling the world, having your photo taken with people you pretend to like, thinking you’re changing the world in your own small way – but backstage it’s all backstabbing, jealousy and rejection. And the boy with the bad eyesight, who’s not a showman but a fan of corduroy and tweed, never wins.