Two days ago I was persuaded to have a ‘West Wing’ binge and watched six episodes all in one go. It’s not healthy. I was happy enough until then. It does strange things to the psyche.
Had I ever realised before that I loved Alison Janney? A disturbing new development. I was with little Danny Concannon, the newshound, wanting her to extend from her great height and kiss him. This is not healthy, not healthy at all.
The following day I found myself walking at twelve miles an hour conducting imaginary conversations with imaginary others also walking at twelve miles an hour. This is the ultimate workout combining mental agility with the speed of gazelles. Is this how the White House works? Do they spend each night working on zippy retorts?
Then there are the characters: Toby Ziegler, forever stroking his beard and looking quizzical.
Leo McGarry, the cynical timeworn chief of staff with the bewitching smile, the zealous Josh Lyman for whom the Holy Grail would be just another good cause. I’ve been told I should be more like Sam Seaborne, straight of back and wearer of good suits. To me he looks impossibly smooth and always looks puzzled. The two may be connected.
And then at the top, the visionary Josiah Bartlett, the best president America never had; erudite, fiery, heart superglued in the right place. At the end of each episode he reveals why he is so revered by all who come into contact with him. This is usually preceded by warning music. Then the eyes . . . the stirring speech, sometimes just a few words, a hand on the shoulder.
I realise now that this is what I should be aiming for: slim, cool and tall, impeccably dressed and a fast walker, spewing out one-liners like a Potomac machine gun, but also mellow and wise with a heart the size of Manhattan.
I’m working on it.