After the embarrassment of Tony Blair's memoirs – which suggested Gordon Brown was mentally unbalanced – the former leader's appearance at yesterday's leadership conference was a fine opportunity to bow out gracefully.
It almost worked. In the end the impatience of the audience to know who was going to be their next leader overwhelmed the exit.
Audiences can only clap so much. In an ideal world Brown should have been applauded out of the conference hall, receiving the adulation which as leader he had become used to.
Yes, they did give him a standing ovation for 50 seconds. Waving and cheering, Brown slowly made his way towards the exit as most of the conference hall finally sat down.
But there was a problem. Brown had not left the room. He had embarked on a lengthy shaking-hands tour of the front row. For an awful period only those around him were still applauding. The majority of the conference hall had stopped and were simply watching his exit in silence.
This was painfully awkward to watch. Perhaps sensing he wasn't quite getting the send-off he'd have liked, Brown and his wife finally made their way out.
It was an unfortunate exit from a politician whose lacked the personal touch. There is affection for Brown – but nowhere near as much as he would have liked.