Now the dust has settled on the furore of Eddie Mair’s inquisition of Boris Johnson, here are just some of the things we didn’t previously know about the fluffy-haired Mayor of London, newspaper columnist and editor, sometime MP, sometime TV host, and presumed PM-in-waiting - before a hagiographic TV documentary spotlighted him, and Mr Johnson’s blustering reaction in the face of Mr Mair ensured we all watched it.
Boris Johnson agreed to cooperate with Michael Cockerill in a tell-all documentary
- As a child, and the son of an environmentalist who once worked for MI6, young Boris moved 30 times in 15 years
- Born in a New York hospital just at the same time as a Liverpool quartet arrived in the city with all its accompanying mania, Boris was dubbed the Blonde Beatle, with other patients queueing up for a look
- He is the eldest of four children, and became a very protective older sibling to the others when his mother had a nervous breakdown and was absent for eight months
- His first ambition was to be “world king”
- He is a talented painter, particularly of enigmatic portraits of himself it seems
- His competitive drive meant he broke his nose four times on the sports pitches of Eton
- Eton was also where he first encountered ‘Cameron Minor’ now the esteemed Right Honourable Prime Minister. Boris’ sister Rachel remarks today that “it’s very sweet, although he’s taller, Cameron still looks up at Boris as though he’s head boy...”
- Later at Oxford, Boris got an upper second degree in classics, while DC claimed a first. And in 2001, both men became MPs for the first time. Their destinies remain ever entwined.
- Private Eye chief Ian Hislop and his team call him 'Beano Boris' - and there is a "sense of guilt" shared by Hislop and Paul Merton about Boris' success on ‘Have I Got News For You leading to any future political success. “He's our Berlusconi, but somehow it's funny,” reflects Hislop. “He's the only feel-good politician we have, everyone else is too busy being responsible."
- He’s known defeat and rejection. He’s been sacked from several posts, including his first newspaper job for faking an article about the Plantagenets, and from Michael Howard’s Shadow Cabinet for lying about a love affair, what he called an “inverted pyramid of piffle” which later turned out to be true.
- Of his first defeat, his campaign for President of the Oxford Union, he remembers, “like all harrowing and shattering defeats, it was very good for me."
- Although it remains undisputed that Boris Johnson would make a first-class guest at anybody’s dinner party, opinions vary when it comes to his suitability for high office...
- Ken Livingstone (who nearly came to blows with Boris during their rival campaigns for London Mayor, which Boris won): “He wants to be loved by people, even while he's destroying them... it’s a breathtaking failure in a politician."
- His former boss at the Telegraph, Conrad Black: “He’s a scoundrel. A sly fox disguised as a teddy bear.”
- Boris himself on his time sharing Shadow Cabinet duties with editing the Spectator: "My policy was pro-cake and pro-eating it... two ponies getting more and more out of control."
- Gito Hari, his public relations chief as Mayor: “He would be wise in high office,” referring to any power Johnson would wield with such things as the nuclear trigger.
- His former boss Max Hastings: “He might get confused with the button for the maid.”
- His “mischievous” sister Rachel: “Does he want to be pm? He's much more ambitious than that.”
Boris sat through evidence of his wrongdoings - sackings, affairs, threats - happily enough
Of course, Boris Johnson wants to be PM, he just can’t say the words, and runs into all sorts of trouble when asked... WATCH him squirming in action with Eddie Mair here...
When he’s being his wittier, more robust self, he describes it thus... “If the ball came loose from the back of the scrum...” a disingenuous statement of ambition rightly pounced on by Caitlin Moran and others.
To deal with the inquisitions of Eddie Mair and others, Boris will somehow have to stop grinning and relying on his wit to get him out of a hole - basically break cover, a dilemma neatly summed up by Nicholas Tyrone here, and reveal, potentially, his gravitas but also his seriousness. This could potentially mean ‘Hello, Number 10’ but ‘goodbye, quiz show host’ and it may be a rubicon he has not yet summoned the nerve to jump.
In the meantime, as Moran and others have noted, we still don’t know what he really stands for apart from lashings of ginger beer, a bike ride and a bonk. But in this telegenic age, that may be all the electorate need, as Hislop says, someone to make us feel good about ourselves. David Cameron must surely keep an eye out, and keep asking... “What do you do with a problem like Boris…?"
BELOW: Some Photos Of Boris Looking Silly...