Thursday, June 19, 2014

Happy 50th Boris! From gaffes to girls and grasping ambition, here are 50 of your most outrageous (and hilarious) moments...

Boris Johnson turned 50 yesterday. Here are 50 things about BoJo - some of which even the London mayor with a rhinoceros-hide might find embarrassing...

Boris is a grand-master at turning a humiliating confession into a joke. Famously, he said: ‘I think I was given cocaine once but I sneezed so it didn't go up my nose. In fact, it may have been icing sugar.'

His ability to wriggle out of trouble has led colleagues to nickname him ‘the greased albino piglet'. But he is always making grovelling apologies.

For example, he said of the Tory Party that it had ‘become used to Papua New Guinea-style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing'.

An apology was swiftly due. ‘I mean no insult to the people of Papua New Guinea who I'm sure lead lives of blameless bourgeois domesticity in common with the rest of us. Add Papua New Guinea to my global itinerary of apologies.'

Centre of attention: Mayor of London Boris Johnson meets the Cheeky Girls

When studying at Oxford, he was accused of copying a Greek translation from a textbook. He admitted to his tutor: ‘I'm terribly, terribly sorry. I've been so busy I didn't have time to put in the mistakes.'

Boris was once asked by his Oxford contemporary, convicted fraudster Darius Guppy, for the contact details of a reporter he wanted beaten up. Boris asked: ‘How badly are you going to hurt this guy? . . . OK, I've said I'll do it, I'll do it.'

He was fired from The Times newspaper's graduate training scheme for making up a quotation.

In 2004, the then Tory leader Michael Howard ordered Boris (Tory MP for Henley) to make a penitential visit to Liverpool after an editorial was published in the Spectator (which he edited) that insulted Liverpudlians several times over. Boris called the trip ‘Operation Scouse Grovel'.

He once described a St Patrick's Day gala dinner as ‘Lefty cr*p'.

Portsmouth, he said, is ‘one of the most depressed towns in southern England, a place that is arguably too full of drugs, obesity, under-achievement and Labour MPs.'

High flyer: Mayor of London Boris Johnson on a zip wire at Victoria Park, east London

When Labour's Alan Johnson stood down as Shadow Chancellor in 2011, Boris said he was upset — ‘not just because he is a nice guy but also for the satisfaction I used to get when I saw a headline saying “Johnson in new gaffe” and realised it wasn't me.'

He has a well-earned reputation for unreliability. His Editor at the Daily Telegraph, Charles Moore, said Boris was like actor David Niven's description of Errol Flynn. ‘You knew where you were with Errol Flynn. He always let you down.'

Boris tried to pay his biographer, Andrew Gimson, not to write his biography when he realised salacious details of his private life would be included.

He has been married twice. His first wife, Allegra Mostyn-Owen, is the goddaughter of Harold Acton, the aesthete who inspired the camp character Anthony Blanche in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.

Boris was accused of having an affair with journalist Petronella Wyatt

In 1997, he said of the EU: ‘Look, I'm rather pro-European, actually. I certainly want a European community where one can go off and scoff croissants, drink delicious coffee, learn foreign languages and generally make love to foreign women.'

When the Olympic torch arrived at the Tower of London in 2012, he said, ‘As Henry VIII discovered, with at least two of his wives, this is the perfect place to bring an old flame.'

Boris was taught to disco-dance by blonde TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson, whom he described as: ‘A bit like a nymph descending from Parnassus or Olympus.'

Boris loathes Nick Clegg, who, he says, is in government simply ‘to fulfil a very important ceremonial function as David Cameron's kind of lapdog-cum-prophylactic protection device'. In other words, a condom.

Boris is two years older than David Cameron. At Eton, he was Captain of the School and elected to the elite group Pop. Cameron, achieved neither distinction, which gives Boris a sense of continuing superiority.

Boris and Jeremy Paxman are great friends. Yet he once attacked Paxo on TV for his ‘elephantine' salary, taunting: ‘Why don't you get yourself a proper job instead of just sitting around telling politicians what to do?' Paxo riposted: ‘The usual convention, Boris, is that I ask the questions.'

Boris is a fan of the claret-swilling late Labour grandee and lothario, Roy Jenkins. ‘It's amazing,' Boris has said. ‘He just wants everything — the fame, the power, the girls, the good life.' Characteristics that Boris clearly envied.

Boris has a fine bass voice, and is particularly keen on singing Ole Man River. But he failed Grade 1 piano.

As a teenager, he was a big fan of the Rolling Stone Keith Richards. He says: ‘It was Keith I aimed to emulate at the age of 16 when I bought a pair of tight purple cords and tried with fat and fumbling fingers to plink out Satisfaction on a borrowed guitar; and my abysmal failure to become a rock star only deepened my hero worship.'

He can also paint well — a talent inherited from his mother, the artist Charlotte Wahl, whose canvasses sell for thousands.

His favourite film is the Ben Stiller movie Dodgeball, about a group of underdogs who enter a dodgeball tournament where the cash prize could save their local gym from closing. He also identifies with the cartoon character the Incredible Hulk — ‘The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets.'

Unlike David Cameron, he is cheerfully open about his membership of the Bullingdon Club, the Oxford University toffs' drinking club. When he meets old members, he proudly cries: ‘Buller, Buller, Buller!'

Reminiscing about the Bullingdon, he says: ‘This is a truly shameful vignette of almost superhuman undergraduate arrogance, toffishness and twittishness. But at the time you felt it was wonderful to be going round swanking it up. Or was it? Actually I remember the dinners being incredibly drunken.'

He plays tennis regularly. ‘I love it with a passion,' he says. He challenged Boris Becker to a game but the former Wimbledon champ never replied. ‘I bet I could make him run around,' boasted Bo-Jo. On a trade visit to India, local schoolchildren thought he was Boris Becker.

A keen table-tennis player, too — he calls it ‘whiff-whaff' after what he says is its original Victorian name — he has challenged Pippa Middleton to a match, also to no avail.

His other sport is cycling but his trusty bike (which he called ‘Old Bikey') was written off after he rode into a pothole and crashed earlier this year. Telling of his grief, Boris said: ‘Think of Alexander [The Great] grieving for his favourite mount Bucephalus, or Wellington mourning the death of the great Copenhagen.'

As a child, his ambition was to be ‘world king', though he later refined it to ‘becoming a billionaire proprietor of a multiple retail empire and the Jimmy Goldsmith of my generation. Something went wrong'.

He lost his first bid to become President of the Oxford Union, the university debating society. He won the second time. Boris got a 2.1 at Oxford. David Cameron unforgivably bettered him with a First.

Boris is a descendant of George II — making him a cousin of the PM, who's a descendant of William IV.

He and his family live in Islington, North London, in a £3.3 million  house (which he bought in 2005 for £1.9 million) across the road from disgraced actor Angus Deayton.

Boris burst into tears on the streets of Brussels in 1990 (where he was working) when he heard Margaret Thatcher had been kicked out of 10 Downing Street.

Boris admits his ambition can be ‘overwhelming'. In 2004, he said of combining his roles as MP for Henley and Editor of the Spectator: ‘The horses are starting to get further and further apart, and the straddling operation is becoming increasingly stressful on the crotch region.' He added: ‘All politicians, in the end, are like crazed wasps in a jam jar, each individually convinced that they are going to make it.'

He failed to win the Parliamentary seat for Clywd South in 1997. As he put it: ‘I fought Clwyd South — and Clwyd South fought back.'

He once urged men to vote Conservative, saying: ‘Your car will go faster, your girlfriend will have a bigger bra size.'

After the fall of Baghdad, where he was working as a journalist, he pocketed  the cigar case belonging to Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein's right-hand man. Five years later, Scotland Yard asked Boris to hand it over under the Iraq (UN Sanctions) Order.

Despite the bumbling and lazy image, he can put in the effort — particularly when money is an incentive. On Wednesday evenings in the early-2000s, he'd write an editorial for the Spectator, attend Prime Minister's Questions, compile a car column for GQ magazine and deliver his Daily Telegraph column for which he'd earn £250,000 a year — a sum Boris has said is ‘chickenfeed', a comment that upset millions of people struggling to make ends meet.

He has consistently denied that he wants to be Prime Minister. ‘How could anyone elect a prat who gets stuck in a zipwire?' he said, referring to his accident during the 2012 London Olympics.

Finally, he's rated his chances of becoming PM as ‘slightly better than those of being decapitated by a frisbee, blinded by a champagne cork, locked in a disused fridge or reincarnated as an olive'.

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