Jack Cullen

My Secret Gay Crush

Michael Portillo

Remember at school when there were only five girls you were allowed to admit that you fancied? Usually mouthy blonde ones that boasted signs of early development, ones who now work in Co-Op and strip at weekends. Saying you fancied a boy was out of the question, you could perhaps refer to a particular boy as being physically fit, or casually observe that girls found him attractive, but the conversation had to be cradled very carefully. I remember being told that Jennifer Ellison was fit, so blu-tacked pictures of her to my wall obediently, a copy of Adam by Anthony McDonald hidden under my pillow. I remember being told that I couldn’t fancy Melinda Messenger.
So now we’re all adults and we’re openly gay, but it's STILL THE SAME. We're told who to fancy. Gay gossip sites give coverage to the same types of guy, gay club posters always show the same types of guy. It's worse for middle-aged straight women, they get sold a right dog's dinner by the cheap weekly glossy brigade. David Tennant? Seriously? Is he even attractive? Doesn’t Christian Kane look like a World Of Warcraft fanatic with a conviction? Would you even double-take Alex O'Loughlin on a passing escalator? Would you really touch Patrick Dempsey's privates? And could you even fit anything inside Ryan Kwanten's mouth? Who the f**k was Michael Fassbender this time last year?
I'm sure there are books out there that do a better job of explaining the psyche of sexual attraction. But there's one particular man I have a thing for - the former Thatcherite turned train enthusiast Michael Portillo, and I’ve finally got round to pinpointing why. Here is a scientific breakdown of why Michael Portillo is infinitely hotter than Zayn from One Direction:
1. The name
Michael, a good solid Christian name with mild undertones of sexual surrender, followed by a buoyant and well-rounded surname that just melts on the tongue like a ball of gooey Lindt.

2. The skin
Portillo is never pasty and never orange, he has a healthy seasonal tan that glows radiantly in accordance with the Roman calendar, climaxing with a rich Worther's Original sheen come August.
3. The hair
For the handful of front benchers who actually have any, mastering perfect politician hair is difficult. Cameron's is too flat, Clegg's - too dry and clunky. Blair looked like a door-to-door salesman with those stray rat strands and the Milibands look like a special deal on Brillo pads. Portillo's hair is to die for. Powerful, well-ordered, both bureaucratic and literary, his backwardly swept locks are authoritative with a teaspoon of casual. Who cares if he dyes it - would you dare hold that against Gaga? Thank you.­

4. The face
(4.1) That Nose: A gorgeous button mushroom that has gently ballooned with age. In its youth you can tell Portillo’s nose was a real Abercrombie & Fitch pincher with a slight ski-slope ascent to the bridge that falls just short of arrogance and enough of a convexed fronting for a bead of pool splash to cling to, catching a glint of Italian sunshine.
(4.2) Pillowy lips: Portillo's lips are a faded terracotta cusped with a pearly, almost metallic finish, firmly-filled but soft on the surface. Wasted on women basically.
(4.3) Those teeth: Hard, white and rigid with a thick soft cut. Breathe.
(4.4) The smile: Michael has a warm and winning smile. He mostly smiles with conviction and genuine sentiment, only occasionally giving in to a smug refrain or teasing grin. No matter how he shapes his mouth, it is always tantalisingly inviting.
(4.5) Well spaced features: Eyes that are a good distance apart and a decent plot of forehead that is neither too modest nor too sizable.
5. The impeccable dress sense
Okay so Portillo isn’t Mark Ronson or Christopher Bailey, but he has a classic and well-fitting wardrobe that suits his age and come summertime he isn't afraid to throw a few muted seaside pastels into the mix.
6. The voice
Imagine how ghastly pillow talk would be dating one of the boys from Made In Chelsea with their sloping, trying, smearing, wannabe-posh twangs. Portillo is the real thing. A hearty red wine. As well-spoken as Alan Rickman but even more candid.
7. The manners
None of this Piers Morgan arrogance or vulgar inwardly-bent gaze. Portillo only interrupts Diane Abbott when it is quite clearly necessary.
8. The wealth
Put it this way, you won’t be getting the night bus anymore.
9. The Mystery
I’m talking a history of love affairs plus time spent at the top of the MoD. Hot!
10. The liberal retirement
After years of intense Thatcherism, Portillo has finally undone his top buttons and let himself hang to the left a bit. Whereas most cretins stay in politics until it devours them completely, Portillo caught the last train just in time.

Watch Michael Portillo on Great British Railway Journeys, Wednesday evenings on BBC2 at 6.30.

Photo: BBC.

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