Fulsome, jangling jowls.
Corpulent cascades of ruddy face-flummery. Undulating hillocks of a rimpled, skin-wrapped neckscape. This is what concerns me here. When man, woman and John Prescott alike reach a certain age, their lofty ambitions and noble principles start to melt from their delicate bone-structures and assemble themselves in pendulous pouches of skin beneath the chin and ears. Load-bearing collars begin to creak beneath flesh, abundant and untamed; speed-bumps and pot-holes loom in the road, each a grim promise of quivering indignity. Yep there comes a point in life when both prince and pauper must bid farewell to all things chiselled and pert and resign themselves to an altogether looser-fitting species of neckline garb.
We’ve seen many an esteemed visage don these flabby facial appendages over the years. They’ve jiggled down the halls of power, disported themselves before the camera’s candid glare and been callously slathered across our daily papers.
Some of our most magnetic statesmen have also been our jowliest.
Winston Churchill’s immortal cigar would cast a lonely and dejected shadow across the pages of posterity if not wedged defiantly between his porky chops. Indeed, you could almost hear his majestic jowlage juddering throughout those iconic wartime broadcasts; absorbing the force of his sonorous voice like a fleshy rear suspension.
Richard Nixon sported what Gerald “God among men” Scarfe described as “scrotum-like jowls” perennially fretted with guilty little beads of sweat. Scarfe drew them baggier and saggier with each masterful stroke of his pen. He drew them as bollocks and bomb-shells. In the wake of the Watergate scandal, he drew them as microphones and greasy coils of audio-tape. Eventually, under Scarfe’s ruthless stewardship, Tricky Dick’s jowls gave up the ghost, took leave of his face and tumbled to the ground.
If Nixon’s jaw looked like a washing-line for elephantine ball-bags, Ted Heath’s jowls were of another species entirely; altogether plumper and more generously nourished. Resolutely British jowls, if you will. Back in his paunchy pomp, they cossetted and coddled his peevish, sneering lips like Egyptian silk pillows. In his Autumn years and beyond, as a vast, gelatinous mound on the back-benches, they made it look like his lips were drowning in a bowl of liver-spotted custard.
And what about the ladies, I hear you ask? Well fear not, gentle reader (yep, I’m talking to you, mum). This blog ain’t no manocentric testosterocracy. The female of the species, you may rest assured, is subject to the same jellying of palsied plasma, the same pursing of mottled skin, curdling of life-blood and merciless advance of haggard ruination as her male counterpart. Some of our most devastatingly brilliant women are also those for whom the notion elasticity is now but a distant memory or a fevered dream.
Look (if you are feeling masochistic) at Ann Widdecombe; she of the pasa-doble (chin) and “gateway drug” hysteria. Consider the lovely Jo Brand with her mordant deadpannery and lustrous chin-spammery. Take Vanessa Feltz…. Yep, well enough of that.
This isn’t meant to be a malicious blog (though I concede it may flirt with the boundaries from time to time). The point is I like to draw. And I find it infinitely more fun drawing the wrinklies and the fatties (those with “character”, to draw the curtain of diplomacy over their less prepossessing lineaments) than the lithe, symmetrical and pneumatic. There will be the occasional subject whose depiction I pause short of making gusset-soilingly grotesque but they will be the fortunate and the few.
This is Jowls of Derision, punk.
Spill my tea and I’ll spill your face.