“Mr Johnson is not a politician. He is an act,” thundered Simon Heffer in the Telegraph just days before the mayoral election. “For some of us the joke has worn not thin, but out. Yet many less cynical than I am find it appealing…He has had stooges all through journalism, who did significant parts of his various jobs for him, usually with little thanks or reward. And now there are stooges in politics… Where is the evidence of his adroitness in administration, his sense of responsibility, his ethic of public service?”
Well, some might think Johnson’s sense of responsibility was demonstrated fairly well by his 2004 trip to Liverpool to make a public apology for a Spectator editorial which, in his words, “imposed an outdated stereotype” on the city and included several crass mistakes about the circumstances of the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 people died. Although Johnson never attempted to shift the blame from himself, the offending piece had in fact been written by one of his journalistic stooges, one Simon Heffer. Nice to see he remains so grateful for the favour the boss did him!
Some stuff that didn't quite make it, too. And here's some of that.
Polly Filler was in full flow in the Daily Mail on 7 May, as former BBC reporter Rosie Millard regaled readers with full details of how her children Gabriel, Honey, Phoebe and Lucien had abandoned “our habitual regime of a ten-minute morning music practice” and bracing walks when she bought them a Nintendo DS games machine. “The pale blue, £150 Nintendo arrived last November, fresh from Hong Kong,” Millard revealed. “I had bought it on the net crammed with a ‘bundle’ of 20 games including Brain Trainer, Fifa 08 and Nintendogs.”
The three games Millard mentions alone would cost at least £65 to purchase on the UK high street – yet she claims she also got a further 17 titles bundled in with her Nintendo DS (UK RRP: £99). In February, Nintendo named Hong Kong as one of the “major trans-shipment points for the global distribution of illegal goods” in the piracy trade which it estimates costs software publishers and developers $975million in lost sales each year. This followed raids ordered by the Hong Kong high court last October which netted more than 10,000 “game copying devices and modification chips” which allow illegal copies of Nintendo games to be downloaded onto imitation cartridges and offered for sale.
“I’ve never come across such an apparently blatant admission of piracy,” one games industry insider told the Eye. Having failed to make this point on the Daily Mail’s website, where comments on Millard’s article have mysteriously failed to appear, at least one reader has instead reported her to anti-piracy watchdog the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) for investigation.
Hurling her two penn’orth into the frothing and futile pot that was the Guardian’s anti-Boris campaign, columnist Zoe Williams was clear what she found most offensive about the soon-to-be-Mayor of London. “That floppy hair, and that sodding bicycle. Has any man ever before managed to persuade such a huge number of people that he was a decent chap on two such flimsy, trivial, irrelevant, modish pieces of ephemera?”
Well, he did, he cannot but have been helped by such half-baked opinions as the following: “This is the truth about the cyclist – they are more civic-minded than anyone else travelling in any other manner, bar by foot… Cyclists are persistently treated like the naughty children of the road, where the SUV driver is the decent, law-abiding adult, when, in fact, the very opposite is the case. And while it's a difficult sum to calculate precisely, I'd estimate that one cyclist is as socially beneficial as 10 lords.” Who blethered thus? Keen cyclist – and, judging by her latest photo byline, bearer of rather floppy hair – Zoe Williams, in a column in February 2006.
Plenty of other Boris/Gruaniad stuff made it, though. You should buy it and see. It really is terribly good, you know...
“Have your say: Has swearing on TV gone too far?” demanded the Sunday Express last week.
Those lacking in inspiration from which to draw their opinion might like to study some of the programme titles currently offered by the paper’s sister channel Television X: “Cock Crazy”, “Fuck Bunnies”, “The Pussyvator” and “Cum On My Teeny Tiny Tits”.
Right, that should bring some interesting Googlers to my site...