the weekly


History, attentive to your nose,
Suggests that you weren't perfect as a rose,
Insists, in fact, that your expressive mug
Was uglier than any common plug.

The years aren't kind. A very ancient mint
Reveals you as a witchy-looking bint,
And – this much we can really say for certain –
You wouldn't have attracted Richard Burton.

Perceptions change. And now you have to join
The other side of that elusive coin,
The one that says that you were ten-a-penny.
Good looks? You can't have had, alas, too many.

Still, beauty is a creature born of fashion,
And future pundits may think that your ration
Of loveliness was way beyond compare.
And personally, I think your steely stare

Has plenty to commend it. When you smile,
There is (I think) a certain sense of style.
Posterity is pants. Don't be cast down.
There's plenty who'll be smitten, Gordon Brown.

BBC news story

A coin on display in Newcastle showing Cleopatra on one side, and Antony on the other, has led to a rash of headlines expressing surprise that Cleopatra was not a Liz Taylor-like beauty, something Petrarch (died 1374) had already pointed out, on the basis of his translations of ancient Latin scripts. One headline announced that 'Cleopatra Was A Minger'.
14 February 2007


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