As “Boris Johnson for Prime Minister!”, “I heart Bozza” and a cyber-gush of syrupy Boris-love slosh around Twitter following his “Hooray for everything” Olympics speech, it’s worth underlining heavily that “I love David Cameron” has never been a Twitter trending topic.
Cameron – a Prime Minister unable to take centre stage at the Paralympics closing ceremony lest the booing from irate differently abled citizens blew him trouserless into nearby Leyton allotments – spent Johnson’s stormer of a speech standing on the sidelines grinning uneasily. He reminded me of a slick magician on a TV talent show watching a fat child who can bang a tea tray against his head to “I’m Henry the VIII, I am” whipping away all his phone votes.
The growing cult of Boris – and it is a cult – is not to be underestimated by his detractors or enemies. Yes, I’m told daily he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing, play-bumbling his way to power. A pratfalling despot. Idi Amin with a squirting flower on his lapel. In fact, according to some of my colleagues, Boris stage-managed being caught on a zip-wire, his limbs flapping like a daddy-long legs, his gonads strangled by a self-induced wedgie, wearing a silly helmet just to make himself more adorable. “And you fell for it!” people snapped.
The “Boris isn’t daft” conspiracy theorists always end up looking slightly insane themselves, even when they’re making a salient point. And it’s impossible for voters to spot a wolf when he looks so much like an amiable Labradoodle smartened up for his first Communion.
What Monday’s speech, with its Churchillian moments, naughty jokes and parts that sounded like he’d scribbled them on his hand five minutes pre-podium, proved is that Boris actually is a political threat. He’s a politician for people who don’t like or understand politics or policies. What Boris stands for in my mind is cycling (he’s pro, wind in your hair, great outdoors, whizzer fun!), great larks (well, who isn’t?) and living la London vida loca.
“Giving up alcohol is cruel,” he once said. “One of the cruellest and most deceitful things you can do to your body. I’ve taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me. It’s a great gift of the gods.” In a Nancy Mitford novel Johnson would be “a terrific Hon” and be allowed to sit in the Hons cupboard. And, yes, Boris believes other more pressing things about transport strikes, service funding, bankers and Olympic legacy, but that’s mostly overshadowed by his ability to jump into scenes on News At Ten, thighs apart, hands on hips, a sort of political Lord Flashheart from Blackadder crying, “I’m here! Aren’t you all lucky, gosh isn’t this Libor business all a bit serious. Who wants a fig roll and a swig of my hip flask?” before trying to leave the room mistakenly through three different doors, one of which is a broom cupboard.
Standing centre stage in Trafalgar Square on Monday, resembling, as ever, an ambitious, hastily stuffed Guy Fawkes, his hair styled by north and east winds, Boris reached out to everyone in Britain who really can’t be arsed with sartorial strictness. Every man being nagged to get a haircut for Susan’s wedding (I mean, why can’t you? Can’t you just look smart for once? Lesley’s husband will be smart, why do you always have to look like a tramp… and so on) observed Boris Johnson’s approach to grooming with delight.
And when Boris did speak, what spilled from his mouth was mostly stuff and nothing, but any former best man or best woman who’s spent an entire wedding with a claggy mouth dreading their five minutes of publicly saying “Don’t the bridesmaids look beautiful” would possibly admit that Boris was a highlight of the day.
He brought laughter and tears. He did a joke about Olympic-inspired bonking. And he gave us all a chance to laugh at the French. And then he left the podium, got into his clown car with the wonky steering wheel, parped the hooter, bucket of glitter on his knee, and drove triumphantly in the direction of No 10.
See a knife, turn a blind eye
I’m dubious about Facebook being linked to the death of 17-year-old Jay Whiston. The party Jay attended was indeed planned on the social network site, but on a personal invite-only page.
Used properly, boxes ticked and unticked carefully, Facebook can be private, managed and strict. One hundred guests were invited, the hostesses’ parents stayed on site, soft drinks and food were provided, notes had been sent to neighbours to pre-apologise for noise. But one guest brought a knife and Jay died from a single wound.
Knife crime could have happened here if the event had been organised on charming WH Smith Paddington Bear “Please come to my party” notelets and mailed with second-class stamps. Parents are often slightly clueless about social networking, but more worryingly they purposefully turn a blind eye to the role knives play in their children’s social circle.
It’s not the police, department stores selling blades, or the social network chosen to plan a meet-up who are failing, it’s people who find blades in their own homes and say, “Yes, he’s got one, but the thing is, my child’s just not like that.”
I preferred it when Brad was worth $10m a movie
Brad Pitt has just delivered some startling news about Tinseltown. Those $10m-a-movie deals he’s famed for are nowadays out of the question. “Yeah, that thing died,” he said.
Yes, I know the thought of Pitt, Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe tightening their belts and down to their last ranch won’t garner much sympathy or Just-Giving page donations. But out of all the megabucks-pulling movie stars, Pitt and his partner Jolie were my favourite high-earners and charity cash-splurgers, touring impoverished corners of the world, chucking money at them (and, OK, collecting the odd son or daughter) willy-nilly.
Without Pitt’s hard-earning ability and soft touch, the world just became a poorer place.