There are some crushes that ought to be crushed. When I was about nine, I fancied our village vicar — he had a pleasant, boring face and would throw Mars bars into the congregation during sermons.
Things came to a halt after I saw him by chance at a local swimming pool. Underneath his cassock was a lawn of hair so dark, you couldn’t see his skin. Even his arms were furred. I was, in the way of many nine-year-olds, ruthless in my judgement. I stopped fancying him at once and avoided him at church, calling him 'Gorilla Priest' in my head.
Years on, I find myself contending with another embarrassing crush. I have a bit of a thing for Jeremy Corbyn — or 'Jessica Chastain' as I like to call him in company. It’s much easier saying 'Gosh Jessica Chastain is hot,' than saying the same about Jeremy Corbyn. People do get surprised that I'm bringing Jessica Chastain up — she hasn’t been in any good films recently, and I’m straight — but they don’t seem to mind. Meanwhile, I feel I’ve got something off my chest, even if no one knows that the heart throb I’m really lusting after is another JC.
The thing about Jessica Chastain is that he looks like the type of man who would ignore you entirely. He has more important things on his mind: poverty, inequality, big bad banks. He doesn’t like sugary biscuits, or know who Ant and Dec are. It’s all a bit of a turn-on. It would be your birthday and you’d get back after a long day at work, hoping for some TLC or at least a lentil salad. But Jessica wouldn’t be around. He’d be on an Islington estate, stroking the cheek of a weeping woman who’d been shafted by the nasty party, his Trotskyist face a vision of empathy.
When Jessica won the Labour leadership election, people said it was because he was so principled. Now that he has been re-elected as Labour leader after losing a vote of no-confidence, people are saying that someone who refuses to step down even as most MPs are baying for him to go cannot, on principle, be principled. Well, whatever. Jessica clearly thinks he has principles, even if Westminster disagrees. He has a vision for the country and wants to enact it. It’s endearing. The fact that he will never be able to carry out that vision is by the by. I like a man who clings onto a rock face by his fingernails.
I’ve had a crush on Jessica for years now, even before he stood for leader. One of the interesting things about it has been seeing how this has become an unacceptable position to hold. When he first swept into office with his ginormous mandate, my Facebook feed — full of idealistic millennials — was flooded with glad tidings. Heart-eye emojis dominated. People acknowledged that Jessica might be unelectable but they didn’t really care: things seemed to be moving in an exciting direction. In late-night conversations with my friends, I would freely say that I rather fancied the new leader, and voices would chime in agreement.
The tide has turned. Though Jessica won 61.8 per cent of the vote on the ballot in September, young lefties are noticing that the Tories are thundering ahead in the polls, drawing ahead of Labour by as much as 17 points. In my social group at least, the Jezza love has soured, rather like one of those Turkish yoghurts I am sure he is fond of. Sometimes I feel I am the last woman standing. Diane Abbott and me, that is. Yet I still find myself attracted to him.
So apart from his principles, what makes Jessica so fanciable? Partly, it’s his dress sense. I have never seen a man who gives less of a toss about his clothes. That silver tracksuit, which made him look like a foil monster. Those brown suits he appears to have found in plastic bags outside a morgue. Those communist caps. Jessica has absolutely no idea how to dress. There is not a shred of vanity in him: he just wears what he has in his cupboard.
There’s also the fact that Jessica is quite handsome. He’s tall and thin, like a sexy runner bean. He has white hair, as does God, I suspect. He has chipped-ice eyes, framed by power eyebrows, one of which is perennially raised in an expression of post-capitalist scepticism.
It’s worth clarifying that I’m not sure how far I would let things go between Jessica and me. I haven’t met him; it could well be that in the flesh, Jessica is less attractive than in those saucy Daily Mail pics. Plus, I think he’s pushing his luck by refusing to listen to the elected MPs meant to be working with him.
I’m also uncomfortably aware that, while perverse, my attraction to Jessica pales in comparison with that of his superfans. Last year, he was said to have 'chuckled' over the Mumsnet thread in which women confessed that they fancied him. At Labour Conference, punters went nuts for a volume of poetry dedicated to him, which included an affecting haiku by one Hylda Sims (Jeremy is not / a typical leader - one / reason we love him).
Apart from here, I have not aired my passion for Jessica publicly, or taken to any online threads. And my efforts are nothing when set against those of the devoted Corbynista Lisa Dempster from Liverpool, who recently paid tribute to JC by singing a modified version of Labi Siffre’s 'Something Inside So Strong'.
Uploading the touching 'support song', Dempster wrote: 'Peace and love will always win.' The video is on YouTube, and is a tonic for those who think, like me, that their attraction to Jessica is getting out of hand. It could be so much worse.
Leaf Arbuthnot is a journalist for the Sunday Times