Most of us have been there. You’ve put in the legwork, been as charming as you can muster, and they seem to be into it. Then you turn around to see them in the arms of another.
Boris Johnson certainly has. The prime minister had an awkward moment, one that most teenagers could identify with, at Friday’s G7 summit photo call: Joe Biden, on whom he had expended a great deal of energy attempting to woo politically, warmly embraced his near neighbour – the French president, Emmanuel Macron – when his back was turned.
Johnson, who had evoked the memory of the working relationship between Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt as he tried to align himself with the US president, offered Biden an elbow bump, and then stood between him and Macron for the socially distanced family photograph.
The prime minister then led the G7 leaders as they filed away, but broke his stride to turn and see his neighbour and the object of his political desires walking together in a physical embrace. Apparently shaken, he lingered somewhat awkwardly near the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, as he waited for Biden and Macron to catch up.
Nor was it the first time in the day that Johnson had been in second place for the US president’s attention. Meeting the British prime minister and his wife earlier in the afternoon, Biden told him to “wait a minute” so he could approach Carrie Johnson first and was pictured with his hand quite low on her back.
Still, at least the world leaders no longer have to deal with a Trump-style 19-second pseudo-hardman handshake. It was Covid-secure elbow-bumps all round as they met for the photo call.