While home in England over the summer, I became moderately addicted to the TV series Borgen, a sort of Danish version of The West Wing. It's a rather less intense experience than the Aaron Sorkin show (less frenetically paced, of course; and there isn't that stressful sense of the fate of the Free World hanging in the balance - the doings of the Copenhagen parliament don't have much global impact), but quite compelling nonetheless. And a key part of its charm, no doubt, at least for a male viewer such as myself, is that Danish ladies are all so darned attractive. The protagonist in Borgen (=The Castle, the seat of the Danish government), Birgitte Nyborg Christensen (superbly played by the very beautiful actress Sidse Babett Knudsen), is a wife, mother to two teenage children, and an unremarkable middle-of-the-road parliament member until a political scandal suddenly unseats the government and she finds herself with the opportunity to stitch together a moderate coalition that will make her the new Prime Minister.
She's really much too nice for all the backroom wheeling-and-dealing that this demands, but her intelligence and innate decency carry her through. No-one this gorgeous ever gets to run a country in real life, surely? (Well, Yulia Tymoshenko, I suppose.)
And yet, in October last year, a little over a year after the first season of Borgen had begun to air (we are promised a third and final series early next year; I still have quite a lot of catching up to do), Helle Thorning-Schmidt became Prime Minister of Denmark - of similar age to Birgitte Nyborg, similarly married with two children, similarly cobbling together a rickety centrist coalition... and similarly a bit of a fox. Spooky, no?
Now, I can sympathise with Xi Jinping skiving off a meeting with Hillary Clinton earlier this month. She's a rather intimidating personality. But he stood up Birgitte Nyborg... I'm sorry, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, as well?? This, to me, seems the strongest indication that Xi's leadership career may be washed up. I would have made it to that meeting even with a very bad back.