June 25, 2014 Leave a comment
He has expanded his city’s public transport system to include a rented bicycle scheme, and has suggested building an elevated network of bike freeways to make it easier for cyclists to navigate the British capital.
He has even proposed relieving London’s severe lack of affordable housing by creating a “floating village” in the River Thames, and a £65 billion ($118 billion Cdn.) super-airport east of London, so as to close the venerable, overstretched Heathrow, which would be replaced with up to 100,000 new homes.
Criticize him, and you might be criticized back as a “great supine protoplasmic invertebrate jelly”, accused of having your “tits in the wringer” or of engaging in “boss-eyed, foam-flecked hysteria”.
Though he is a member of Britain’s Conservative party — a former Member of Parliament, in fact — there is little that is small-c conservative about the American-born and Belgian-educated London mayor, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.
Or, as Londoners know him, Boris. (No need to include the surname.)
In a profession that produces a lot of smooth talkers and tedious hyper-partisan attack dogs, Johnson is a rarity: an orator who can keep an audience engaged for hours.
He did just that for 90 minutes earlier today, appearing on stage with broadcaster Nick Ferrari to discuss the state of the city and to take questions from the audience.
Being Londoners – i.e., often irreverent – the audience laughed, groaned, cat-called, kidded and even yelled at their mayor in ways that might seem rambunctious to Winnipeggers. It made for fun listening to anyone who happened to be tuned in to the live stream from London’s LBC 97.3 radio earlier today, and makes for great viewing now that the event has also been uploaded to YouTube. One could only wish that Winnipeg could have a mayoral forum quite like this:
What’s next for Boris Johnson? There are rumours that the 50-year-old has his hopes set on being Prime Minister — speculation that he has, typically, dismissed as “as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive”.
The man himself has suggested that having been a short-lived management consultant (“I could not look at an overhead projection of a growth-profit matrix and stay conscious”), a newspaper reporter and editor once fired for fabricating a quote (“I mildly sandpapered something somebody said”), and now a politician, he might try his hand next at writing romantic fiction.
But if he does eventually replace prime minister David Cameron at Number 10 Downing Street, Johnson has already thought up the perfect reason why voters should support his Conservative Party:
In the mood for more political entertainment? Check out the work of Rik Mayall, the British actor who died suddenly on June 9. Mayall is best remembered for playing the devilish Alan B’Stard, MP in The New Statesman, a clever political comedy (albeit R-rated by stricter North American standards) that aired on U.K. television from 1987 to 1992. After 25 years, the humour in the Season 2 episode Live from Westminster, like the many other episodes now circulating on YouTube, has lost none of its relevance.