Wednesday, December 24, 2008

David Cameron needs a Willie with bottom

At least that is the argument of Geoffrey Wheatcroft in the Guardian today:
The Tories nowadays are very short of decent old buffers of the Willie Whitelaw kind, men with what used to be called bottom, possessed not necessarily of ferocious intellect but at least of a certain judgment, and the commonsense instinct that can spot a wrong 'un.
The concept of "bottom" is the subject of a chapter in T. H. White's The Age of Scandal:
In the eighteenth century, but particularly under the Regency, a gentleman was expected to have "bottom". It was a word of composite meaning, which implied stability, and also what the twentieth century calls "guts". It meant being able to keep one's head in emergencies, and, in a financial sense, that one was backed by capital, instead of being an adventurer.

Bottom, in fact, was synonymous with courage, coolness, and solidity. The metaphor was derived from ships.

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