At first sight, Lino Carbosiero resembles a dodgy Italian waiter.
With his slicked back locks, gold chain and protruding flash of silver chest hair he looks just the type to lure you into a restaurant with grand hand gestures, talking-a like-a that-a.
These smooth operators then proceed to serve you a microwave lasagne, lukewarm white wine and charge you £20 for the privilege.
Shameless stereotyping, I know, but I’ve had enough bad meals to know never to accept a seafood risotto from a middle-aged man in eye-wateringly tight trousers.
Turns out I was wrong about old Lino, though. His image has not been splashed all over national newspapers for serving up poison pizza.
No, he is in fact a hairdresser to the Prime Minister. And he made the news this week after it emerged he had been awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours list.
Critics have been quick to cry cronyism and the revelation has called the decision-making process into question.
But I think poor Lino has been unfairly forced to bear the brunt of years of public discontent with the outdated system which is preoccupied with class and mired in secrecy.
Examine the list of ‘worthy’ recipients this year and you will find Tory donor Peter Emerson has been given an OBE.
What sort of message is that to send out to British people? Donate pint upon pint of blood to help the NHS save lives and you’re rewarded with a plastic cup of blackcurrant cordial and a Jaffa cake. Slip a few bob to the right political party, however, and you get an invitation to Buckingham Palace.
A PR chief who once went on holiday with the Camerons has been made a knight of the realm.
I’ve dealt with PR chiefs in my journalistic career and I seriously doubt any would have been invited to King Arthur’s round table. Hard luck, Guinevere – the knights are too busy rebranding the kingdom of Camelot to rescue you today.
There are of course, some ordinary folk – charity workers and community champions – buried at the bottom of the list. But I am sure many of those would happily do away with the ceremonial pomp and accept a grant for their own cause instead.
Let us blame the big guys, not Lino. After all, anyone who charges the PM £90 a pop for a bad combover deserves a medal.