Monday, August 25, 2008

You’re An Embarrassment

Boris JohnsonMuch as I’ve enjoyed Boris Johnson’s various idiosyncratic performances on the BBC’s Have I Got News For You and find it reassuring that even rabid Tories can have a sense of humour (and thus stand a chance of becoming human) I have to say I cringed during the Olympic handover ceremony yesterday.

Am I the only Brit to have found our Olympic reps utterly embarrassing?

Boris looked a complete scruff-bag. Whilst everyone else ponced about in suits so sharp you could slice bacon wafer thin on the lapels Boris shambled about in what looked like one of Patrick Moore’s old cast-offs. His suit plainly didn’t fit him. His trousers looked like they’d collapsed inwards at the knees and the jacket looked like it had been used to smuggle African elephants through Chinese customs. To make it worse Boris sauntered around with his jacket undone, his shirt scruffed up and even slouched around with his hands in his pockets at one point. What must the world have been thinking? Is this the best Britain can offer? Is this Britain’s much rumoured but rarely seen sartorial elegance?

When Boris grabbed the Olympic flag he looked like a tramp on a stick.

And then came our much-vaunted “artistic interpretation”, designed to whet the Olympic village’s appetite for 2012.

Jesus. I’ve never been so embarrassed in all my life. Is this how we wish to portray ourselves to the world? Double Decker buses. Privet hedges. Umbrellas and David effing Beckham?

Is this a true representation of Britain? Of London? Is this all we amount to? An Austin Powers pastiche of lazy stereotypes and Mary Poppins tomfoolery?

I have real fears for 2012. Fears that we are going to embarrass ourselves hugely.

I can see it now. After the spectacular glories of Beijing the Olympic community will stand agog as they witness London’s Pearly Kings and Queens ‘rolling out the barrel’, gag as they consume their free bargain buckets of whelks and jellied eels, guffaw as Boris Johnson and all the Olympic big-nobs conduct their speeches from within the centre of a giant bouncy castle and all the athletes will compete dressed up as giant dogs and cats in the style of It’s A Knockout. Sooty and Sweep will host the televisual coverage and the relay race will be accompanied by multiple shouts of “He’s behind you…!”

Oh God.

Is it too late to apply for Chinese nationality?

14 comments:

Matthew Rudd said...

I think you're entirely wrong. I think the fact that Boris doesn't represent a stuffed-suit mentality is exactly why he's popular and why his Olympic moment was a triumph.

Brother Tobias said...

'Like a tramp on a stick' wins my newly created best simile award! I've had a sort of regard for Boris's obvious reluctance to be influenced by image consultants, although since his single-minded campaign for a new east-of-London airport in Kent, I'm looking for a chance to shove a brolly in his spokes.

Steve said...

That's a valid respone Matthew and I admit I enjoyed his speech about "wiff-waff" and his obvious enthusiasm for the cause... but would it hurt him to buy a suit that fits and then press it occasionally?

Hi Brother T, yeah Boris makes me smile and grimace in equal measure... I kind of like him but yesterday just thought his appearance let us down a little. Mostly though I thought our "presentation" with the bus was highly risible, lazy and aesthetically cheap.

-eve- said...

I'm honoured by your punchline ;-)
Didn't watch the closing ceremony; the hostel TV was hogged by a bunch of locals watching one of their local concerts ;-)

Steve said...

Eve, you missed some fabulous fireworks and an English buffoon in a comedy de-mob suit! ;-)

The Sagittarian said...

I know he's not "ours" but I did feel embarrassed for you. I only saw the speech bit with "wiff-waff" and I initially thought it was a send up...

TimeWarden said...

I don't swing to the left or right anymore. The only time I voted was in 1979, by post from Uni, for Michael Foot. I've been humiliated by the Tories, over the poll tax, but the Labour MP for our city is useless. You should read the poorly written letter he sent out promoting education! I thought about correcting his missive and returning it to him, if only I could be bothered, but he's the one earning the fat salary!!

Anyway, I didn't see the closing ceremony but isn't Boris's lack of sartorial elegance who he is? To persuade the Mayor to, literally, change would've been like asking Sir Bob Geldof to present Live Aid in a suit, to convince the public he's a decent sort despite over-enthusiastically encouraging them to part with their hard-earned! Now, if the Olympians had hired King of cool Mister Bryan Ferry...

Steve said...

That's my fear Amanda... I know we're justly proud of our British sense of humour but it's nothing to be proud of when people are laughing at us as opposed to with us!

True TimeWarden, but on the world stage Boris should be more than "that funny MP bloke from Have I Got News For You" - he's representing the country, all our athletes and their coaches and the UK Olympic organizers for 2012, all of whom have put in a tremendous amount of work and effort; it just looked like Boris had put in hardly any work at all. If he couldn't be bothered to buy a properly fitting suit he could have at least startched the collars and done the jacket up. My biggest disappointment however wasn't Boris but our bus presentation which was appalling. It looked hastily cobbled together and amateurish.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Boris is deffo our Sir Les Patterson!

By the by Steve, cannot import your blog address onto my new blogmate blidget as it won't accept it. What's your blogger site address (without the Pocketropolis bit) so I can try that? cheers L.

Steve said...

Now there's a thought, Laura - 12 inches of Boris Johnson! Or should that just be 12 inches of Johnson?

Sorry to hear you're having import problems. Not sure how I can give you the address without the pocketropolis bit as the web address is simply http://www.pocketropolis.co.uk/blog/blogger.html and I don't think it can be accessed any other way.

EmmaK said...

I don't know, I'd rather have a scruffy leader with brains (Boris) rather than a slick operator without so much as a baked bean between his ears (Bush)...;)

Steve said...

When you put it like that Emma... suddenly Gordon Brown seems quite competent.

KAZ said...

I fear that the London efforts will make a virtue out of mediocrity.
Our stars will be X factor or Pop idol and our designers will be GNVQ students from London FE colleges.
It almost makes you hope for Sting to show up.

Steve said...

Oh my God. Sting. Do you really think it might be that bad?!?