IT was a curious old event with Boris Johnson and the London Assembly members last week at the Camden Centre, the panel was clipped up on the stage like a giant Blankety Blank set. Two rows of faces trying to fill in the gaps, sometimes not even getting close.
There were plenty in the crowd who wanted to see Boris fail that night. The chairman Brian Coleman seemed to steer a few toughies away from the Mayor but he always wriggles through. It’s an amazing skill.
You know, he’s a tough politician to interview: sock him a hard question and he will suddenly pretend we’ve all been distracted by something in the corner of his eye or start quoting irrelevant sections of Shakespeare. If he says something silly, people read the write-up as Boris simply being silly old Boris, not as a gaffe any more. He has a created a licence for himself – in the same way Ken Livingstone did to a certain extent – that permits him to say what he wants.
But on Tuesday, you could see that none of that matters among those who came to King’s Cross not wanting to see him fail. Affection is setting in. At the end of the session, people crowded around the front trying to get a picture of him on their iPhones like he was top of the hit parade. Snap-click. Snap-click. Snap-click… The other members of the Assembly (quick test: can you name five?) ambled away with no such adoration. Some had spent the whole two hours without breathing a word.
..and Boris had his own exit song played over the speakers, perhaps we should have been shouting ‘encore’ at this stage. Can you guess what the tune was?
A spot of Francis Albert Sinatra. The swing-crooner’s tune ‘They All Laughed’. The lyrics run:
They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round
They all laughed when Edison recorded sound
They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother when they said that man could fly
They told Marconi wireless was a phony, it’s the same old cry
They laughed at me wanting you, said I was reaching for the moon
But oh, you came through, now they’ll have to change their tune
They all said we never could be happy, they laughed at us and how!
But ho, ho, ho! Who’s got the last laugh now?
Despite the barely concealed contempt some of his Labour and Lib Dem colleagues at City Hall have for him, you couldn’t help but think Boris usually did have the last laugh as he cycled away down Euston Road. Ho. Ho. Hee. Ho.