I watched a couple of venerable journos pontificate over the papers about Tory leader, David Cameron's interview on ITV during which - stop press - he became "emotional" discussing the death of his son, six-year-old Ivan. It's been slightly over a year since Ivan died. Not long. No time at all really. The pain within touching distance.Cameron told the interviewer "the loss is very tough and it takes a very long time to even start to get over it. It's a sort of journey between understanding what you're missing, what you've lost and being grateful for what you had. It just takes a very long time."
There were raised eyebrows among the country's world-weary. Oh so world-weary. Could it be that Cameron was seeking to electorally profit from the death of his son? "How distasteful", they muttered among themselves. After all, they'd seen it all before.
In February during another ITV interview, this time with Piers Morgan, Gordon Brown spoke of the death of daughter Jennifer, born prematurely weighing just 2lb 4oz, dying in 2002 at just 10 days.
“She would be 9 this year and you know, you think all the time of the first steps, and the first words and the first time you go to school and it’s just not been there… this is the happiest time of your life and then suddenly it becomes the most grief stricken time of your life. It was such a pendulum swing. I couldn’t listen to music, I really wasn’t much interested in anything for a while because you had to come to terms with something that, you know... you’d expect it would work out so completely differently.”
One commentator came to the verdict "He might have steered the country on to the rocks but last night we were invited to vote for him because, I'm sorry to say, he and his wife suffered the intense sorrow of losing their first child. That sounds harsh but this excruciating TV appearance left one no alternative conclusion."
Another opined: "Was it a cynical U-turn by a man who once decried personalised politics and Blairish exploitation of family? Yes shouted an army of cynical pundits and bloggers."
My child (stillborn at term) would be 10 if I hadn't lost him. Lost him like a sock or glove or pair of spectacles for reading. Just like that. But worse. And what these pundits don't understand is Brown and Cameron don't have a choice to talk or not to talk, to weep or not to weep, because the life and death of their children runs right through them. Tragedy defines them more than any manifesto ever could. Whatever power each man holds or chases, he would abandon it all, without hesitation, for just one more day with his lost child. He would sell his own soul for his lovely political wife never to have had her heart broken up into ugly pieces that no policy or strategic thinking - however clever and well-meaning - could ever mend. These party leaders may day-dream of glory, but at night they dream of sons and daughters they can no longer hold. They are not wrong to talk about it, they are right. Unspoken griefs twist and turn and do not grow smaller for darkness and a lack of air. They speak their children's names and they tell of their sorrows because to do otherwise would be to deny those children, it would be to say those children came and went, and that coming and that going did not matter in the scheme of things. Honesty in politicians - isn't that a good thing?