AS the gaggle of screaming mostly teenage fans at New Street station in Birmingham reached a crescendo, a passer-by was well within her rights to ask the question. “Is there a rock star?” she queried in response to the Justin Beiber-esque mania that had gripped the always busy but seldom crazy train station.
Well he does has big floppy hair, loves a stage and his arrival always causes a stir but the unlikely reception was for Tory Mayor of London Boris Johnson whose arrival in the northern Labour-city of Birmingham was this week likened to the famous platform arrival of Vladimir Lenin who stepped onto Finland Station in St Petersburg to begin the Russian Revolution.
And in many ways the arrival of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson in Birmingham late last year (2012) is the start of what could be a great upheaval this year not just for the Tories but British politics in general which is as desperate for a hero as Canberra’s federal parliament is for respect, appreciation and talent.
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More than eighty years separate the publication of Evelyn Waugh’s first novel and the Tory campaign for government in the British election, but the two are oddly connected.
The narrative spring that sets ‘Decline and Fall’ in motion is the expulsion from Oxford of its hapless hero, Paul Pennyfeather; and the reason he’s expelled is an act of bullying by the members of something called the Bollinger Club.
They “debag” him (pull down his trousers and pants) and force him to run around the quadrangle. He’s caught, ‘sent down’ as they say at Oxford, and left with no choice but to take a low paying job teaching at a seedy prep school, where his humilations grow steadily worse.
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