Sunday, June 22, 2008

Boris Johnson: Who, Why, How?

I live abroad and don’t watch the news as much as I should. Although, if I did, it could only be news about a chicken that likes to watch Who Wants to be a Millionaire, an incident that involves shouting and wearing lots of gold jewellery, or a woman in Moldova who hasn’t been able to stop crying for 30 years. I should read newspapers, but the Guardian that I pay to get delivered every week (in theory) is as out of date as Tony Benn when it arrives. I therefore didn’t know until recently that Boris Johnson had become Mayor of London; I only barely knew he was running for it from a cryptic reference made by an English person I met here by chance. Boris Johnson. Boris Johnson? B o r i s J o h n s o n. Not experimental novelist and paper-clip fetishist B. S. Johnson, not a member of Anthony and the Johnsons, though both might have been interesting. No, the blond professional oaf off of Have I got News for You; the bloke who slagged off Liverpudlians for being falsely sentimental. Maybe he’s not a bad person. Just a knob. But mayor?? This polarises my entire headspace with regard to the cheeky chirpy Londoners of whom I once counted myself a member. It’s their saving grace that they don’t take themselves too seriously, unlike, well, Parisians. But it also shows they don’t give a monkey’s about anything else either - ‘cos that’s what I’ve always imagined Boris is most proud of.

Here’s my theory: Boris Johnson is that horrid, smug, blond child on the Kinder bars. As an 9-year-old more interested in equity investment plans than in conkers, he invested his vast and wholly undeserved Kinder bar modelling fortune - probably in chemical weapons and land mine manufacturing, just because he could. This then funded an adolescence of Young Conservatives pig parties that lasted until, well, recently, and even that still left enough dosh for him to watch his profits grow from his faux opium den in Kensington, until he’d grossed enough by 2008 to run for London mayor and really start taking the piss. I reckon it’s only the mildly amusing name “Boris” that keeps passers-by from grabbing him by the underpants and giving him a wedgie every time he goes out of the house. Or maybe I’ve underestimated the man; maybe I’m out of touch. I do hope he is tries to be a good mayor.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Marmite Marmite Marmite

(Ok, here goes my first proper blog post. I don't know if I'll be able to do this very regularly, and it may take a while for me to get into the swing, but here goes a little one:)

Famously, you either love it or you hate it. (Though I’ve now found that there’s A Third Way, vis., you’ve never heard of it.) It’s a sticky, salty, brown substance in a jar that you spread on toast. (That's warmed up bread). It’s also famously (ok, not that famously in some benighted regions) quintessentially English. I like it, not that that proves anything, and as I live a long way from The Muvverland I have amassed a collection of it to give me solace at breakfast-time. Not only this, in my more manic and desperate moments of homesickness, I’ve found my mind fixated on the stuff - frankly, to the exclusion of much else that might actually rescue me from this madness. Anyway, I hereby invent a new parlour game for all Englishmen living abroad; it’s called “Marmite News”. Basically, all you have to do is to think of articles, features, stories, etc, that could fill a weekly publication (yes, weekly) devoted entirely to Marmite. You don’t have to actually like the stuff; all you have to do is humour me and help me get through a few more days here. I’m going to kick off with some headlines:

Would you still like it if your country had a proper gastronomic tradition? Yes.
The 1957 revision of the Marmite label: was it really all bad?
People who don't eat Marmite die, eventually.

And here are some clues for the Marmite News crossword:

1 across: Brown, sticky, salty stuff that you buy in a jar and spread on toast, but not Bovril (7).
2 across: Sticky and yeasty – sailor, I’m confused within me! (7).
1 down: Mother’s worth a try, we hear (7).
2 down: Rim team (anag.) (7).