I first filed this supposedly funny column, about Boris Let the Bodies Pile High in Their Thousands Johnson’s wallpaper, at 8pm on Wednesday, 15 glorious hours before the Thursday 11am deadline. Now I could enjoy a leisurely morning cycle to a Pret a Manger™ ® breakfast bap with my name on it and some passive-aggressive banter with the private security company policeman by Buck Street Market, who tried to move me on because lockdown hair has made me look homeless. Does he know who I am? It seems having a bi-weekly Observer column counts for nothing.
But then I sat up late watching the rolling news tide wash away my prematurely posted Observer sandcastle of satire. Johnson is being investigated, the flat redecoration fumble threatening a general unravelling of greater threads of corruption. It’s strange that Johnson’s fate may be sealed by the furnishings of Lulu Lytle, the kind of costly kitsch interior designer beloved by people who fly to Glastonbury in private helicopters with wraps of coke in their Hunter wellingtons and only emerge from the VIP area to enjoy Lionel Richie ironically.
The Lulu Lytle brand will now have the same problem as Fred Perry, trying to dissociate its classic yellow striped polo shirts from the far-right thugs who now favour them. I’ve had to take all mine to the Oxfam shop, where hopefully they will be snapped up by thrifty racists. But will people really want wallpaper that makes them think of Johnson and bodies piled high in their thousands? Maybe Lulu Lytle should embrace the chaos and swap her ethno-forged colonial wildlife prints for cushion covers depicting Johnson giving Jennifer Arcuri a business development bung on his wife’s sofa. At one stage, the multi-identity trickster Grant Shapps was trying to pass off Lulu Lytle’s stylings as playing an important role in the conservation of a national monument. I look forward to seeing Stonehenge swathed in wallpaper depicting scrolling ferns, Persian mazes or idealised images of the Ottoman court.
In paranoid moments, I imagine Johnson’s erratic career has been deliberately designed to thwart me. A few years back, I had a film deal on the table, to finesse my finished script about a corrupt politician called Horace Thompson, based loosely on Johnson. But after Johnson lost the leadership bid to Theresa May it no longer seemed plausible that such an obviously untrustworthy person could wield political power in checked and balanced Britain. So I let it wither, not knowing Johnson would soon be back, the Terminator of spaff. This is a shame, as the film climaxed with the Johnson character being eaten alive by his own guard dogs, which is essentially what is happening to him now, something I am sure many of my fellow prosecco Stalinists would have paid to see.
Before bed, I rewatch Matt Handcock’s appearance on the futile totalitarian burlesque of the Wednesday Press Conference, where he told journalists asking questions about corruption that he wouldn’t be answering them and then just answered questions that hadn’t been asked instead, a standard Johnson government move that even Laura Kuenssberg must be tiring of now. Handcock’s barefaced evasion is a not entirely surprising move from a man who handed a massive Covid-test manufacturing job, uncontested, to the bloke who ran his local pub. Move on! There’s nothing to see here!!
I finally go to sleep around 2am with the rewrite unfinished but wake to scan the morning’s developments at 6.30 before the school run. Despite the official Tory line that voters aren’t interested in Johnson’s corruption, every Thursday morning newspaper front page thinks it’s significant, except Johnson’s old employer the Daily Telegraph, which has probably run with a picture of a 17-year-old boarding school girl in shorts celebrating the fact that they are allowed to have sports day. And Arlene Foster has quit. Given the unpredictability of the howling news tsunami I wouldn’t be surprised to find that it’s because she paid for Johnson’s Lulu Lytle curtains in exchange for an afternoon of Irish border negotiations on his wife’s sofa. Is it acceptable to make two variations on that joke in one column?
I sit in traffic listening to the radio. Nadhim Zahawi, a man who spent a portion of a £6,000 claim of taxpayers’ money on heating the stables for his horses and saw a company he was a shareholder in benefit from more than £1m-worth of government Covid contracts, has been sent out again to defend Johnson against charges of corruption. This is a great choice as there is nothing Zahawi hates more than corruption, except maybe a chilly horse. Zahawi refused to be drawn into condemning Theresa May’s sickening skip-ready John Lewis furniture that Carrie Symonds needed replaced, but a brief scan of John Lewis’s website show that pure wool blankets, which would warm a cold horse, start from as little as £45.
I won’t get back in time to file this and finish it by the 11am deadline if I queue up for a hot Pret bacon roll and then argue with the fake policeman, so I grab a BLT from the Co-op ™ ® and scoff it in the car with more radio news on. It appears that a strange loophole means the prime minister, Boris Johnson, retains the power to exonerate the subject of any inquiries, in this case the prime minister Boris Johnson himself, if found guilty. The problem with Johnson is he is so shameless he might actually do just that.
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