Chris Philp with Boris Johnson
JUST a bit of fun, here’s a sketch of London Mayor Boris’s visit to the Moments espresso bar in West Hampstead last week, appearing in today’s Camden New Journal. Love him or loathe him, it was quite a sight seeing him working the room at such close quarters. What should be said was that he left to a round of applause and whether he had turned a few people Tory or not, many were clearly impressed by the spirit in which he opened the floor to any questions.
THE Tories will tell you it was a remarkable occasion, an example of a politician putting himself on the line, facing the public and coming out on top. Here was Boris Johnson almost clambering over people to get to the final cushioned sofa in the Moments Espresso Bar, and from there using it as a makeshift stage from which to deliver his famous Coffee House Address of January 2010.
They hope in years to come this apparent act of spontaneity will live long in the memory. That those who managed to squeeze inside the café will now forever be in his thrall, knocked out by his ability to face unscripted questions from all-comers.
Of course, Boris Johnson’s famous Coffee House Address of January 2010 wasn’t entirely spontaneous. The coffee drinkers weren’t stooges, there weren’t clap-boards demanding applauses and, of course, there was no autocue.
But there was certainly a short conflab among Tory ties before he took to his feet. And, over that final slurp of white coffee, did Chris Philp run down a wish-list of things he would love Boris to slip into his speech? Only a bat-eared eavesdropper could say for sure.
As it was, Boris’s Coffee House Address was pretty much the kind of speech he can make on any day in London, a recital of how he claims he has soothed the running of City Hall. Never mind your discomfort over the Jubilee Line, that’s not my fault, now listen to me on how I’ve cut unnecessary spending. Oh yes, and the buses are safer. The patter is clever. There were a couple of jokes, however, that were meant to sound improvised but left cynics believing that he’d scrambled artfully for the same words in some other café in some other street.
That said, when you see it unfold up close up you can see how his impish choreography will have impressed last year.
Not many top-ranked politicians put themselves up in front of crowds of voters and say, “Come on, ask me anything”. He even answered one about whether he would ever challenge fellow old Etonian David Cameron. And there will be those seeing him in the flesh for the first time, who will be forgiven for thinking his performance was devoted to them.
This was music hall, stage-craving Boris in full swing, ending like he’d produced two hours of stand-up at the Palladium with a big: “Thank you West Hampstead.”
The Coffee House Address