Diary: Boris - the priapic pin-up
Friday 07 October 2011
This column neither condones nor condemns philandering public figures, but it does occasionally enjoy a low chuckle at their expense. Thus I'd like to congratulate the online dating service AshleyMadison.com for its latest frankly irresistible PR stunt. The site, which offers married people the chance to enjoy illicit sexual encounters, has erected a billboard featuring the face of alleged babydaddy Boris Johnson (who, by my count, has been subject to scurrilous rumours of at least three extra-marital romances) in the heart of Camden, north London. The text of the ad – to be rolled out across the UK – reads: "Affairs now guaranteed, no matter what you look like." According to Ashley Madison CEO, Noel Biderman: "The mayor... represents the busy, well-off professionals that flock to our site every day. Thanks to our service, hundreds of thousands of people across the UK are finding love outside of their marriages, helping to maintain and reinforce their relationship by seeking the extra attention they crave."
* Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov (who prefers the title "Warrior King") was stood up at his 35th birthday party in Grozny this week by Kevin Costner, Eva Mendes and Shakira. Not all his celebrity invitees were washing their hair, however. Violinist Vanessa Mae was reportedly paid $500,000 (£324,000) to play at the celebrations; Jean-Claude Van Damme stood up to say: "I love you Mr Kr-...er, Kadyrov"; and Oscar-winner Hilary Swank gushed: "This is a great honour... Happy birthday Mr President." At the 2008 Berlin Film Festival, Swank presented the International Human Rights Film Award, and signed up to the UN's UNIFEM "Say NO to Violence against Women" campaign. I'm not sure she'll be invited again: Kadyrov, whose regime is accused of numerous human rights abuses, recently praised Chechen men for prowling the streets firing paintballs at women who decline to wear headscarves. In 2006, his over-eager police force were filmed assaulting a suspected adulterer, who'd been stripped and beaten and her head and eyebrows shaved. Did the moral of Boys Don't Cry get lost in translation?
* Many people have claimed that Tony Blair talks a load of balls; now The New York Times seems to have discovered proof. In his memoir, A Journey, the paper points out in an interview with the former PM that he compliments Rupert Murdoch for having "balls". He also refers to spin doctor Alastair Campbell as possessing "clanking great balls", while another aide is prepared to "squeeze the balls" of anyone who interferes with Blair's schedule. Blair, his testicular fixation revealed, seems embarrassed. "I am wincing at that," he says. "Is there a bit in the index that says 'balls'?" (There is, actually: "Balls, Ed".) Meanwhile, pressed on his intimate relationship with Murdoch and his wife Wendi "Ding-Dong" Deng, Blair explains: "I got to know [Murdoch] and the family better since leaving office. I wouldn't have become a godfather of a child on the basis, the knowledge and relationship I had with Rupert Murdoch when I was in office." Glad to hear it!
* Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church is beloved by wry documentary makers for its members' habit of waving offensive placards ("God Hates Fags" being the best-known) at the funerals of US soldiers. Westboro matriarch Margie Phelps wasted no time in dancing on the grave of Steve Jobs yesterday, announcing that she and her fellow congregrants would picket Jobs's funeral because he "served self, not God" and "taught his neighbor [sic] to sin". Naturally, Mrs Phelps tweeted this information using the Twitter application on her iPhone.
* Edgbaston MP Gisela Stuart has announced her intention to run for Mayor of Birmingham, which would put her in charge of the country's second-largest city, not to mention its £3.5 billion budget. However, it does provide a headache for the Labour hierarchy. Ms Stuart unexpectedly retained the seat in 2010 despite her near-abandonment by Labour head office. However, the boundary review will make the seat yet more marginal and, in the unlikely event that she wins the party's mayoral nomination (her rivals are ex-MP Siô* Simon and former city council leader Sir Albert Bore), she'll trigger a tricky by-election that could prove disastrous for Miliband (E) and co. Coincidentally, Ms Stuart was a Blairite and backer of Miliband (D) for leader.
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