I’ve long suspected that mass murderers share a tendency towards physical ugliness. It makes sense. They seek revenge on a cruel world through violence and tyranny on a mass scale as an ultimately futile expression of their physical inadequacy.
A handy tyrant guide lends credence to this theory. Augusto Pinochet? A slack-jawed insult to the senses. Ivan the Terrible? My eyes fail with tears. Hitler? Short-arse.
Wandering aimlessly around a bookshop on Charing Cross road, this prejudice was challenged when my eyes were drawn to Simon Montefiore’s biography of the ‘Young Stalin’.
Wait a minute – Stalin’s dishy! The wavy hair, the dreamy eyes, the emo scarf, the carefree stubble, the retro jacket – he’s well put together, and was probably as popular with the ladies as he was with the chaps.
You can imagine hoards of friends disappointed by his failure to join them at the pub yet again.
‘Where’s Joe tonight?’
‘He can’t make it. He’s with his new girlfriend.’
‘ANOTHER girlfriend? Joe’s never off the job!’
‘I wish I was as cool as Joe.’
How does a good-looking young writer go from arranging delicate verse to condemning millions to the Gulag? I suppose I should read the book to find out.