Tired of all the glitz? Rejoice – at least Boris Johnson isn’t here to upstage the Royal Family | Catherine Bennett
Grief experts explained that the emotion that surprised many people, myself included, at the death of a 96-year-old we had never met, is real and defined as “parasocial.”
Professor Michael Cholbi of the University of Edinburgh, told the newspaper Nature that some people cope with parasocial grief by adopting certain qualities of the deceased person. Others have pointed out that this grief fades rather quickly compared to the regular, incessant kind. Personally, I was comforted by what one might call a parasocial joy: the near-simultaneous disappearance from public life of another person I have never met: Boris Johnson.
His absence, as well as the thought of his rage and indignation at having been sidelined from the national ceremonial where he could have exhibited himself like never before, is a delight which, even if it fades with time, will never be the most beautiful of patriotic memories. . And it’s not even over. There is the prospect of further euphoria without Johnson at Charles’s coronation, an occasion around which, if he were still prime minister, his performance would surely surpass the silly omnipresence he achieved at the London Olympics ( later announced as a qualification for the post of Prime Minister). As it stands, it will be a day back from Herne Hill, south London, where the arrival of the new Cincinnatus, a grieving resident tells me, is already keenly felt.
If there were to be any doubt about what Johnson, still in office, would have made of these events, or rather these events, the officially redundant version quickly positioned itself as the main bereaved and king-welcome of Westminster. . There were funeral tweets from Johnson, a plaintive tribute and an unapologetically past Commons speech. A human-style BBC interview about his last encounter with the ‘bright and focused’ Queen may have impressed anyone who was unaware that Johnson was ready, when No 10 was something of a plague pit, to infect her with Covid. All along Johnson has (unsuccessfully) tried to make her own currency, “Elizabeth the Great”, a reality; perhaps he likes the echo of Alexander the Great, a comparison made for his own account, Alex being his real name, by admirers ranging from Jacob Rees-Mogg to Jennifer Arcuri, one of his lovers from the time of the mayor.
At the membership council ceremony, we saw the stricken rhetorician work his way through the center of a row of relatively successful or worthy leaders (except David Cameron), most of whom had been insulted or worse . Starmer whom he had tried to bribe with Jimmy Savile. Gordon Brown – standing next to him – he had compared, with that characteristic use of racial invective, to an “illegal settler in the Sinai desert”. The strategy may, however, have barely eased the platform’s relegation angst where, if he hadn’t been made to lie, Johnson could have messed his hair up, snickered behind the new king, liquidated Penny Mordaunt or try his own comic pen business. Remember the time he flipped his umbrella, eclipsing Charles at a ceremony honoring fallen police officers? A bit of eye-catching Johnsoning would have come to him, even – especially! — in the first ever televised Membership.
Whatever Johnson has planned for his small roles at the state funeral and coronation, it’s surely not too early to reflect, when those contributions take on an extremely reverential turn, that he appreciates the distinction of having twice, in a short term as Prime Minister, had to apologize to the Queen, “the figurehead of our whole system”, as he called her last week. “His Maj”, as he would have nicknamed her, in life, to the displeasure of his family.
First, he apologized for effectively misleading her about why he had been asked, in the final stages of Brexit, to prorogue Parliament. The Supreme Court, led by Baroness Hale, found that since there had been no reasonable justification, the prorogation was unlawful. Thanks to Johnson’s genius for denial, that setback has already turned into a triumph: among his invented victories is the claim “we saw Baroness Hale.” The reality: After the Hale court overturned the prorogation, Johnson, while telling the public he had done nothing wrong, ‘contacted the Queen as quickly as possible to tell her how sorry he was “.
The second creeper followed the discovery that the day before Prince Philip’s lockdown-compliant funeral of less than 30 mourners, Downing Street staff partied until 4.20am. “It is deeply regrettable that this took place in a time of national mourning,” his spokesman said, “and Number 10 has apologized to the Palace for this.” A more calculated insult, that the Queen “loves the Commonwealth, partly because it regularly supplies her with cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies”, was probably written too early to be one of the reasons the Queen would have hated Johnson.
“I believe she would regard it as her greatest achievement that her son, Charles III, should clearly and amply follow his own extraordinary standards of duty and service,” Johnson said in a eulogy. Charles has therefore changed since Johnson mocked him in 2020 as the ‘biscuit king’, adding in favor of a BBC crew filming a fallback tribute, that he feared Charles was ‘taking the recipe in his grave”. Even without the cookies and a ‘disrespectful’ visit to Birkhall, the two were unlikely to get along after the launch of Rwanda’s human export scheme. Charles called it “appalling”. An ally of the illegal prorogator warned, in turn, of “serious constitutional problems”.
That his next memoir loses, with his solo victory over Putin, a fictionalized version of that historic first-king relationship – how Johnson channeled Churchill to guide the grateful novice – is just another reason to celebrate the Kingdom’s reprieve. United, at a critical time. , to be the theater of Johnson’s fantasies. It is the feat of our ex-chief to have finally lifted the spirits of the “dark and damned” whom he tormented for so long: bravo to the King of Herne Hill!
Catherine Bennett is an Observer columnist
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