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Yesterdaze: All joking aside, this will end badly

James Elliott does his best to take the high road and not collapse into relentless jokes at Boris Johnson's expense - and fails. 

Unless you’ve been living under a hedge all week you’ll probably know that one Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is now the British Prime Minister. Ironically, more often than not Boris Johnson looks like he’s the one who’s been living under a hedge all week during which time a family of wood mice got halfway through constructing a nest in his hair before thinking better of it.

It’s very tempting to play to the lowest common denominator and trot out a string of Boris Johnson jokes instead of proffering some serious analysis as to what his elevation to Prime Minister means for Britain in general and Brexit in particular. So I asked myself what Boris himself would do in this situation. The answer was pretty clear, so here goes.          

When Boris Johnson is on Facebook Live he looks like someone’s left the scarecrow filter on.

Boris Johnson looks like he went for his audience with the Queen and she set one’s corgis on him.

Boris Johnson is like the gravy and sherry-stained druncle no one wants to sit next to at Christmas lunch while he’s slurring his way through a string of racist, homophobic and misogynistic slurs.

Boris Johnson says he’s going to deliver Brexit by the 31 October Halloween deadline. Ok, that last one’s not a joke and is something he’s solemnly pledged to do, but it still falls into the joke category of trick or treaty. Johnson’s victory speech and Brexit pep talk had all the empty bluster of a goofy Dad-coach telling a 9th grade rugby team that they can overcome a 48-nil halftime deficit.

If Johnson’s past affections are anything to go by he’ll be exiting those free trade talks at three in the morning minus a sock and having pilfered a treasured bottle of Pinot Noir that we were saving for a genuinely special occasion.      

And perhaps most damning of all, Johnson was described by Donald Trump as a good, tough and smart man. So whatever the opposite of that description is, that’s what Boris Johnson truly is.

All joking aside this is going to end badly. Very, very badly.

But for now at least the Beehive is following the diplomatic line. Both Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters congratulated Johnson on his win and described him as having an affection for New Zealand that would bode well in any future free trade talks. If Johnson’s past affections are anything to go by he’ll be exiting those free trade talks at three in the morning minus a sock and having pilfered a treasured bottle of Pinot Noir that we were saving for a genuinely special occasion.                        

Somewhat unusually it fell to (last time I checked still the) National leader Simon Bridges - free from the diplomatic constraints of office and likely to remain so - to sum up Johnson more realistically. Bridges was reported as saying that Johnson was mercurial and buffoon-like, but with that broad Kiwi accent of his maybe he said Johnson was malarial and baboon-like. And if he did, that description might not be too far wide of the mark either.

I’ve done some fairly intensive research and can confirm, sadly, that ‘marmalade on the chin’ is not a euphemism. We’ll just have to treat it as a benign breakfast metaphor for Boris’s bloviation.

All in all, Bridges was having quite a good week up to that point. His Monday morning mauling on Morning Report by Susie Ferguson about electric vehicles was mercifully cut short by the news at the top of the hour. Then he had handled the Greens’ short-lived video mocking his broad Kiwi accent with good humour. And thirdly there weren’t any preferred Prime Minister polls released this week. But perhaps realising that his buffoon-like description of Johnson was a bit close to the bone Bridges added the gloss of saying that Johnson was “someone who sometimes gets a bit of marmalade on his chin”. I thought this had to be a euphemism and when I say “thought” I mean that I really, really hoped that it was a saucy euphemism. I’ve done some fairly intensive research on this and can confirm, sadly, that ‘marmalade on the chin’ is not a euphemism. We’ll just have to treat it as a benign breakfast metaphor for Boris’s bloviation. However on the plus side, having done my research I’m now a lot clearer as to the technical differences between jams, conserves and marmalades. I also have new-found respect for the revolutionary ethos of 70’s Kiwi band Quincy Conserve who, technically speaking, should have called themselves Quincy Marmalade.     

All in all it was one of those weeks where international news tended to push New Zealand events down the news feed. For example you might be one of those people whose eyes glaze over when you read the three words “Resource Management Act” but it is significant that the Government has announced a reform plan for what Environment Minister David Parker has described as an “under-performing” law. This is an area where there could well be cross-party support if Judith Collins’ stance on the RMA is anything to go by. She said “I think we should take it out the back and shoot it. Actually that would be quite fun”.

I really hope that this is also a euphemism. And so does Simon Bridges.                          

Have a peaceful weekend.

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