A Parisian friend of mine, a very 'sang froid' type of guy, emailed me in capital letters to say that "Boris" was taking the French capital by storm. I didn't need to ask who "Boris" was. I knew. The whole world knows. He was there to promote his book and drum up contacts for London, that major business and market hub with a medium sized island-nation attached. London is one of the haven capitals of the world, a safe place to park cash and assets for those nomads -- the international One Percent -- who are the ones really changing London into somewhere and something else. Boris absolutely loves them and is abroad partly to roll out the red (not too red!) carpet of welcome.
One of the most astonishing and unique things about the Mayor of London is that he 'plays' to both home and abroad. He is a brand, one of the reasons that he is simply "Boris". One name and pop! we get the entire picture. And the picture is indeed writ large. Like something out of an international Dickens fantasy, Boris' London is a jolly, fun kind of place full of blue bikes ('Boris Bikes'), planes taking off from an airport in the estuary ('Boris Island'), plus loads and loads of jokes and general silliness galore. Written by Julian Fellowes and to be watched munching a bag of Smarties, 'Boris World King' is hip as in hip, hip hooray, three cheers and yah-boo-sucks to those who criticize him. He's a big, blond cartoon character... with a steel-trap mind.
He -- and he will not hesitate to say this -- is the most successful British politician in history. Sans pareil. And this is true, I believe, because of the sheer number of votes he got at his first election. Right now the guy is untouchable, and yet strangely vulnerable as he accidentally dangles from a zip wire during a stunt that goes wrong at The Olympics. Boris -- one dude who rolls with it. Cameras follow him everywhere, there are all sorts of photos of him. Not very many, however, of him hard at work at his desk in City Hall.
But I'm being cruel. It is reported in the land that Boris works hard, very hard, and that he really, really wants to be Mayor of London. It's just not done to appear to try too hard.
And... a few miles west... lies 10 Downing Street, that Holy of Holies of the Cult Of Boris. There, cultists believe, lies his true destiny.
The Conservative Party is in crisis over its leader once again. The party always reaches an existential moment when, like the Republican Party in the States, true conservatism has to be held to the fire, seared and brought out hard and true. It's a ritual bloodletting and the knives are out once again. This time the hounds are baying for David Cameron. Strange this, to an outsider because, well, because Cam is polling consistently ahead of his party. And he'll continue to do so all the way up to the General Election in 2015. However this is a seemingly irrelevant fact to elements of the Tory grass roots and various disgruntled back benchers. The grass roots are defecting to UKIP and splitting the centre right vote, all for a party which will never form a government, not in the near future anyway.
However the truth is that the Tories are losing core support. Eastleigh was a kick up the backside and it is clear that something must be done. So, as his equally intrepid sister Rachel Johnson would say: "Time to send for Boris!".
One problem, though. Boris has to be elected to Parliament. He hasn't got a seat. If you haven't got a seat you can't be leader of your party. Only the leader of the party with the majority of seats in Parliament can become PM.
But never fear. There are probably no shortage of Honourable Members (Cons.) ready to lay down their safe seat for the sake of the Party... and trudge off to the House of Lords.
Not long ago, I stood on the edge of a small, exclusive gathering at which Boris was the main speaker. His quips in Latin and ancient Greek, his sheer energy and bumbling charisma, his success at hiding his ferocious ambition, his ability to make the teeming masses love an Old Etonian toff, would have been a textbook in irony for Oscar Wilde. But we are not in the Age of Wilde. We are in the Age of The True Believer. And it seems that right now, the world believes in Boris.
His term as mayor ends in 2016. This is a year after the General Election. Boris had promised to serve to the end. But the techtonic plates of Planet Boris are shifting once again.
So we'll just have to wait and see.