by the SOIG's raving reporter The Black Fingernail
He has been compared to Stalin, Mr Blobby and a Shakespearian tragedy. But Matthew “Messiah” Wilson has at last settled on a comparison he is happy with: Heathcliff.
Emily Brontë’s brooding anti-hero has come to personify the wild depths of romantic passion, and the next Gardeners' World Head Gardener, who built a reputation with custard as a watchword, has settled on the Wuthering Heights character as a kindred spirit.
The comparison came when it was put to Mr Wilson during an interview with New Spudsman magazine that he reminded women of Heathcliff because of his intensity. He replied with a laugh: “Absolutely correct.” But then he added: “Well, maybe an older Heathcliff; a wiser Heathcliff.”
Asked whether he was a romantic, he replied: “Ask Sydney [his cat].”
Mr Wilson’s readiness to see himself as the ultimately tragic figure whose all-consuming and thwarted desire for Catherine Earnshaw destroyed him gives a rare human glimpse of himself that his strategists have been privately hoping he would show occasionally.
Mr Wilson refuses all requests to use his cats to show his more personal side even though some tell him that he needs to do so to counter Joe Swift’s appearances with his family.
His acceptance of the Heathcliff description provoked wry reactions.
Andrew McCarthy, of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, West Yorkshire, said: “Heathcliff is a man prone to domestic violence, kidnapping, possibly murder and digging up his dead lover. He is moody and unkind to animals.”
Chris Beardshaw, the former shortscreen TV presenter and author of the famous “Stalin to Mr Blobby” jibe, said: “Heathcliff may be dark and brooding but he is also ruthless and vindictive. He ended his life a broken and tormented man haunted by a ghost. Monty Don perhaps?”
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