ASK WHO IS THE most charismatic Conservative in Britain right now, and the answer will come straight back: Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, once shadow minister for the arts, now mayor of London, columnist for The Daily Telegraph, comic turn-taker, and coquette. And soon to be leader of the Tory Party? Not according to him.
Editor’s Note: We’ll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home. Enjoy! Who is Boris Johnson? A practical joker? An out-and-out joke? The next prime minister? Or all of the above? The New Republic | 5 min (1,272 words) Is Ralph Nader still a hero? Ron Rosenbaum thinks so ... as long as Nader steers clear of a presidential run. Slate | 9 min (2,189 words) Historians and spectators love to romanticize the ancient Olympics.
London’s Mayor Boris Johnson, known simply as Boris to his ardent fans in Britain, seems all but certain to reclaim his post in the mayoral election scheduled for Thursday. But the enthusiasm Johnson inspires is only partly related to the policies he’s pursued in office; it has as much to do with his shaggy hair, quirky personality, quick wit, and idiosyncratic habits. Londoners, however, aren’t the only ones who have a quirky mayor to call their own.
Just over 45 years ago, I set foot in the United States for the first time. If you had sat the old Oxford scholarship exam in December and, in Simon Gray’s deathless definition of the pedagogical process, displayed a fluent fraudulence that the examiners could not expose without revealing their own fraudulence, you were able to take the next nine months off before going up as a freshman in October. So, “westward, look, the land is bright!”—a line Churchill liked to quote—and I set off to the New World, more precisely, to Chuck Berry’s ‘Promised Land’ of southern California.