MY STAB AT POLITICAL COMMENTARY came many years ago when, in a meeting with Ken Livingstone in the then new, gleaming, south-leaning City Hall, I made this very perceptive remark. "Mr Livingstone, aren't you the person made famous by Private Eye magazine as Dave Spart?"
His reply was a rather bemused look.
But I must tell you about City Hall the new, a gleaming building as I said because it is made of shimmering glass, is shaped like a misbehaving boiled egg and leans towards Borough Market. Ken Livingstone was its first occupant after a long absence, the absence being caused by Mrs Thatcher's petulance when faced with the taunts of Ken the Red (another moniker given him by the London press). When Mag the Thatch reigned as PM, she had to look daily at the old County Hall building just across the river from Parliament to see banners that proclaimed things such as the number of unemployed in Britain and so on. So one day, peeved and her iron body sizzling hot, she went to Parliament and got the government of London abolished.
Ken was sent into the wilderness for a long time.
It was at the turn of the new millennium that they decided to revive London's government, so they built the new leaning legislative building on the riverbank with a view of the Tower of London and a magnificent office block owned by the property acquiring section of our dear EPF. Ken was returned home again by London's voters to be their Mayor for two terms until he was trounced by another bloke.
Two Fridays ago, I was gadding about in a little district when the pavement before me was suddenly blocked by men and women in a scrum formation. As I approached them I saw the blondie Boris Johnson talking into many microphones. This was, to remind you, election week. So I took another stab at my long forgotten art: "Boris," I said. "You're violating local by-laws. You're blocking the pavement."
Boris was the other bloke above who trounced Ken in the votes, and he is still, now, in office. As great grandson of an Ottoman Turk, he is used to being heckled by the crowd so he studiously ignored me and continued to pontificate. He could not though, in this day and age, send my head to the block.
Boris, as is well known, does not need microphones to make himself heard but this time he was talking to the media so he had to pour his spiel into various mikes. Once, as writer for the Spectator magazine, he became an irritant to various learned and erudite writers there gathered in the Staggers' Library with his very loud telephone talk coming in from the corridor outside. When he finished, someone asked him what that din was all about. "Oh," Boris said, "I was talking to New York."
"With your voice Boris, you don't need a telephone to speak to them," replied one wag.
What I meant to tell you is that even though Boris ignored me on the pavement, he really did not. Last night, just three days after the general election (where Boris came in as MP from a safe seat) he came back to me in a dream. For some reason I was involved in an invite for him to speak to a crowd and as dreams are the most bizarre events in your sleeping life, there he was, standing patiently before me as I was washing my hand from water that was spouting from an overhanging pipe.
"Ok," he seemed to be saying to me. "You can do that, I'll wait."
"No Boris," I said, "You don't have to, this isn't a ritual."
"This isn't a ritual?" he replied. And then he went for a walkabout, during the course of which many people asked him to pose for photographs. So he walked jauntily as they snapped. And then he turned back and smiled. Perhaps a signal to me to say, "See? I can do that whenever I like."
Note: The Mayor of London is not the Lord Mayor of London, of which more later.
PHOTO: The new City Hall building on the bank of the Thames with Tower Bridge spanning the tide.