London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has had some difficult moves to pull off when positioning himself on the vexed question of the HS2 project. At first he gave the impression that he was with the objectors, but gradually finessed that stance to one where he was in favour, but wanted lots more work to ameliorate the effects of the new line.
You said what about Muslims, Dad? And about the Japs? And about west London? For f***'s sake Dad, leave the gaffes to me, right?
But now Bozza faces a new challenge, and one over which he has no control: his loose cannon of a father Stanley Johnson has entered the fray, cheerfully opening mouth and inserting boot in a way that is guaranteed to gain plenty of press exposure of totally the wrong kind, unless those opposed to HS2 are looking to enter themselves in the ridicule stakes.
Stan has discovered that HS2, although in tunnel at that point, will pass very close to his manor in Primrose Hill, and it’s a manor that comes with a £4 million price tag. So he’s hot on things like property rights, which he automatically conflates with human rights. Sadly, his protest has been supported by Baron Mandelson of Indeterminate Guacamole, which will do him and his fellow residents no good at all.
Nor will Johnson père’s singularly unfortunate turn of phrase: “What about terrorism? With HS2 these young girls are going to get down from Birmingham 20 minutes quicker”. More than 30 minutes actually, and if anyone were planning an act of terror, and it got past the law enforcement authorities, it’s debateable whether the effect would be significantly altered for a delay of half an hour.
Stan’s next foot-in-mouth concerns the construction techniques, which he doesn’t like at all, despite having no experience in this field. The proposed anchoring system along the HS2 track at the point where it passes under his house has “never been tried, except perhaps in Japan, on the sea-wall at Fukushima”. Heads could be heard hitting desks across North London.
And, as the man said, there’s more: he would rather like HS2 to stop before it gets anywhere near Primrose Hill, if it’s all the same to all those prospective travellers who might like it to go to Euston: “Our objection, and it’s not being a nimby, is if it comes, it should stop at Old Oak Common. I don’t know exactly where that is, but it sounds like a jolly good place for a station”.
Does he ever get out of that Primrose Hill house? Or is he always chauffeured wherever he goes? And can’t the unfortunate residents of Primrose Hill get someone capable of engaging brain before mouth to represent their views? Because Stanley Johnson is currently spraying the area’s credibility up the wall big style, in a fashion that even Bozza would find hard to emulate.
Still, they’re both equally good for a laugh. Crikey chaps! Yikes! Oo-er!