The Week in Review: Boris fever has gone to our heads
Boris fever is spreading across our newsrooms. All along Fleet Street normally sane and healthy journalists are donning blonde wigs and breaking into Latin.
The announcement this week that Boris Johnson is to stand again as an MP has caused intense excitement among certain sections of the press. So why is this?
What is it about Johnson that causes normally snarling hacks to roll over and ask for their tummies to be tickled? What is it about the man that causes the most cynical of commentators to lose their critical faculties in his presence?
Is it his sense of humour? This is often referred to but never really analysed. What after all does his sense of humour amount to? As far as I can tell it consists of studied bumbling, the use of unneccessarily long words, the occasional piece of Latin and some repeated gags about cake. It's like a Fast Show sketch that never ends. I kind of get the joke, but after ten years of it I'm no longer laughing.
But then perhaps I'm missing something that everybody else can see. Perhaps he's Michael Mcintyre and I'm just a grumpy Stewart Lee fan chucking my remote control at the telly.
So let me drop my cynicism for a moment and try to think positively about the man that talk show host Nick Ferrari refers to as "the blonde genius." What is it that makes him so bleeding marvellous? What is his great legacy for London?
Well he's built a cable car over some scrapyards that nobody uses, and he's constructed a red curly-wurly steel thing in East London and he's built some buses with windows that don't open and air conditioning that doesn't work. Oh and he's put up fares and closed police stations and done a few other things that he promised not to because of efficiency or something.
Okay so that might not sound like a great deal to you, but politics isn't just about doing big things, it's also about talking about doing big things
And he's been absolutely brilliant at doing that. He's made lots and lots of plans. Big plans. Big plans for big airports and big bridges and all kinds of big things that whoever is the mayor in 2050 may or may not actually do.
He's also employed lots of people. Unemployment might remain stubbornly high in other parts of the country, but in City Hall it's been a veritable job creation scheme.
He's appointed armies of deputies and legions of advisers, he's hired battalions of commissioners and embassies of ambassadors. No old friendship has been left unrewarded, no admirer left un-flattered and no former colleague un-thanked.
And what an effect they've all had. Who can deny the impact made by Johnson's "street party ambassador" Barbara Windsor? Or his "chair of the London Food Board" Rosie Boycott? Or the former editor of the Evening Standard, Veronica Wadley who volunteered to be his "volunteering czar" for £76,000 a year and is now reported to be working on his leadership campaign?
Okay, so some of these people may have left their job quite soon after they started it. Like Nicholas Griffin, who was given £100,000 a year to make City Hall more efficient, only to leave just two years later with a £34,000 pay off.
But who can deny Boris Johnson's own dedication to the job, which he fits in between his other jobs writing a £250,000 column for the Telegraph and an exhaustive biography of Winston Churchill? Some scurrilous types have claimed that he now only works four days a week, but his team have strenuously denied this. They do say that he sometimes "works from home" on Fridays, but so what?
Who can blame him for taking it a bit easier after all he's done for Londoners? Why shouldn't he go off and take another job as an MP and spend the time we're paying him to be mayor campaigning for the Tory leadership instead? Why shouldn't he, after seven years of selfless devotion to Londoners, look after his own career for once? I for one don't begrudge him it for a minute.