The corridors of power...

A few weeks ago, The Times signed up a graphologist, Emma Bache, to analyse the handwriting of business luminaries.

It's not as wacky as it sounds. For years, SG Warburg insisted that job applicants submit a sample of their writing for analysis as the final stage of recruitment. The slant of your letters, so they say, can reveal whether you are a compulsive liar, have a drink problem or are suffering from depression.

Bache was sent samples of handwriting without knowing the identity of the author. She summed up her first victim as a no-nonsense, energetic individual, if a little moody at times, who mistrusts woolly thoughts. Why, of course! It could only be Bhs owner Philip Green! A couple of weeks later, Green was ranting and raving at The Guardian for having the audacity to question his company finances.

About the next candidate, she said: 'The writer is extremely adept at persuasively getting others to support them and see their point of view.' That's right: former Asda chief Allan Leighton, who quit to 'go plural'. Subsequent victims have included company doctor David James, and ICAEW president Peter Wyman, who is clearly a far more complex character than many of us assumed. Wyman said Bache was uncannily accurate in many respects.

Not everyone is sold on the idea. One reader wrote in to say that his former chairman had used a graphologist's report to cast him in a bad light, forcing his removal from the company. Few companies would hire someone on the strength of what their handwriting says about them. But as an adjunct to interviews and psychometric tests, graphology may not be such a bad thing. It has a huge following in France.

But then, that's not saying much.
Article by John Ashworth, 11th April 2003 is the premier online information source for business and finance professionals:

Blair Shows Strain as he signs off Commons Leader

This article first appeared in The Times, March 18th 2003

Emma Bache, the resident graphologist at The Times, tracks the changes in Tony Blair's signature.

The first specimen under consideration, the letter to Geoffrey Robinson, sees Mr. Blair in an almost jaunty mood. He's optimistic, he's quite outgoing, he listens to other people. The way he's written it is relatively well balanced and quite speedy.

The real change is when you get on to Ron Davies, because he's become suddenly more aggressive, much more assertive, but slightly depressive. It's as if he's putting on an act of being in charge. He's slightly bending under the weight of it all.

Keith Vaz is approached less aggressively. He's become more resigned and slightly more pathetic.

With Frank Dobson he is very angular, very poised, very matter of fact, quite aggressive, glad to see the back of him. There's no problem here, no emotion: goodbye.

With Peter Mandelson, it's much, much slower writing. He's written it with faltering strokes, a sure sign of someone who's not really sure about what they're writing. The Y is cradling, almost a maternal thing, and he's saying: 'don't go', He's probably had a drink. It's emotional, much more unstable.

Writing to Robin Cook, the Yours is sloping right down then he picks himself up again for Ever. The funny thing is he's never regained the aggression, the assertion, that he had when he was writing to Ron Davies. There's more irritation.

The Yours is bending right down, which is what you do when you're either under stress or you're very tired. The Ever is slightly going up again; he's suddenly realised that he has to get a grip. The Y of Tony is quite foreshortened, and ends in a blob of pressure.

He's certainly more introspective than he was when writing Dear Geoffrey or even Dear Ron. He's definitely more resigned.