Boris Johnson wasn't part of the team that won London the Olympics, but the past few weeks have clearly gone to his head. He imagines he's been the host of a successful global event whereas the reality is that he was only one of many bigwigs basking in reflected glory. In an interview last week, Boris moaned that David Cameron was "pussyfooting around" on the economy and complained that his own Big Idea – a proposal for a vast, polluting new airport in the Thames estuary – isn't being taken seriously by the Government. He implied that he is thinking of going back into Parliament when his term as mayor ends, which definitely means he has designs on the party leadership.
Boris has many fans. That well-known political commentator, the footballer Rio Ferdinand, announced on Twitter last week that he was "the future PM", and according to one Tory pundit, Tim Montgomerie, "people from all over Britain cross the road to shake the mayor's hand or get a photo taken with him … Boris [is] in a good place to take advantage".
In my book, Boris stands for the four Bs – not bikes, but bombast, blathering, bravado and bullshit. Introducing free bikes is not a blue-print for delivering an NHS that works or implementing a plan to provide affordable care for the elderly. In this context, Cameron, who is not a showman but a PR man, looks a bit of a ditherer.
The economist Andrew Dilnot produced a well-regarded report for the Government proposing a cap of £35,000 on the amount individuals should pay for their care in old age. George Osborne quickly poured cold water on the proposals, saying they were unaffordable. All credit to Cameron, then, for putting Dilnot's plans back on the agenda. Boris shouts, and people find it funny, but it's not the same as painstaking political manoeuvring. Cameron has to grapple with an unwieldy coalition that agrees on very little. He recalled Andrew Lansley's NHS reforms and ensured they were watered down to get on to the statute book.
If Cameron is a ditherer, then I'm relaxed about it, because these policies are critical to a civilised society. Dilnot's plan must be made to work; there is no realistic plan B for funding the care of an ageing population, even if it means spending £1.7bn a year. Boris might bark but being loud doesn't necessarily get results.
Bye, bye, Sister
Farewell Sister Boom Boom, alias Jack Fertig, astrologer and member of the wonderfully outrageous protest group The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who has died of cancer aged 57. In the early 1980s the Sisters (a band of transvestites dressed as nuns) brilliantly derided the bigots on the American right and religious leaders from the Pope to televangelist and homosexual hater Jerry Falwell. When Fertig ran for mayor of San Francisco under the name Sister Boom Boom, a new law was introduced forcing candidates to use their birth names. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were thoroughly filthy, witty and provocative, and raised money for many good causes. Pussy Riot stood against totalitarianism in contemporary Russia, but the San Francisco Sisters were just as brave in their time.
The athletes have barely departed and the carping has begun. For a couple of blissful weeks the media was packed with positive news, but now the whingers have regrouped. Leader of the pack is Benedict Cumberbatch, complaining that his Harrow education (he won a scholarship) means he's typecast in upper-class roles, in spite of "not being born into land or titles or new money"– this week, he's playing an Edwardian toff in Parade's End on the BBC, a role he could have declined if he felt that strongly. Since starring as Sherlock Holmes, Cumberbatch's career has soared but now he threatens to hop off to America. Anyone called Benedict didn't grow up in my neighbourhood in Fulham – but as most of the Government comes from the same background as he does, I can't see the problem. Posh is where it's at these days. Meanwhile, Slavica Ecclestone, who was awarded £743m after her divorce from the appalling Bernie, has been threatening to go to the US because of our "awful" tax. Let's buy them both one-way tickets!
Johnnie B good
When Johnnie Boden started his eponymous clothing company back in 1991, he used friends and relatives as models. It was claimed that no one understood their target market better, and his casual clothing was a huge hit with middle-class England. The last published profits, to December 2011, show turnover up 15 per cent to £232m and profits up 13 per cent to £32.5m. The company's 2002 launch in the US was highly successful and the States now account for a third of revenue, but have the original customers fallen out of love with the prim tea dresses, floral blouses and tasteful cardigans? Primark is cheaper and less immediately identifiable, and sales in the UK seemed to be slowing down earlier this year. Mr Boden clearly decided radical action was needed: last week, his new catalogue was launched, featuring the supermodel Helena Christensen as the new face of the brand. This woman would look stunning in a tea towel, let alone a floral crinkly shirt or beige knee-length frock. Perhaps JB ought to remember what Helena said a few years ago when asked if ordinary women would be comfortable wearing her own clothing line: "I don't care. I have no clue. I don't think about anyone but me". Brutally honest, but not a philosophy yummy mummies will relate to.
After two weeks in Italy, what changes for the better did I find in glowing post-Olympic Blighty? According to a BBC poll, eight out of 10 of us feel proud to be British. The first thing I noticed, arriving home in central London, was a used condom on the windowsill by the front door and half a pot of taramasalata carefully placed next to it. I don't know if some weird sexual act had celebrated Team GB's bumper medal haul, but I quickly hosed the area down with disinfectant. In Llandudno the next day, visiting my Auntie Vi, our favourite chip shop reported lacklustre business, caravan sites were half-empty and taxi drivers moaned that things were quiet. A stiff breeze rattled the seafront in between downpours – the normal British summer. On a positive note, after 20 years I've found a great B&B there, called Escape – hoorah! Only a year ago, I slept in my coat, jeans and socks when temperatures plummeted in another "luxury" establishment.Reuse content