There are people, the Independent’s Steve Richards among them, who while deploring individual fatuous remarks will yet proclaim serious admiration for the mayor of London. Can such indulgence survive his call, amid the froth of Olympic rapture, for ‘the kind of regime’ he ‘used to enjoy, compulsory two hours’ sport every day’? My recollection of PE at school is of being shouted at and bullied by men in tracksuits – I preferred algebra – and we had only an hour and a half a week.
There are options here. You can look at Johnson and remark the comic brass of a fat friar’s imperative that his congregation be slender. Or you may project into a future where children spend a third of every schoolday jumping, bending and flexing their limbs in a sort of fascist ballet – National Regeneration, a Britain with the ‘Great’ put back into it by a generation of the fit, strong and masterful.
The large element of clown in Johnson, absurd accent, lolling (and unfit) posture, the quality of a heroic slob, arms him against the dangerous possibility of being taken seriously. But wait until he has them marching.