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The quiet, wall-dulled voices came from within the Parish Hall. As we approached the door, we heard a familiar voice. “And as your representative I will do anything to help this important cause – but I draw the line at dressing up.” Loud laughter filled the room and as I caught the eye of Melissa, Boris’s right hand woman and her friend Maggie, I could tell we had finally found the venue.
Your Boriswatch host, still nursing an unheard-of second cold of the year, pitched up near Henley yesterday morning with an old schoolfriend to capture a Day In The Life Of Boris. He was campaigning in the little known village of Goring Heath, around 10 miles from Henley, and barely mentioned on any maps – which went most of the way to explaining our slightly late appearance. Boris was attending a meeting discussing the local toll bridge price rises – I’m told that the fare had recently been raised to an eye-popping 20 pence – and he was in the thick of it. There were several people outside whose main purpose was plainly to see the man himself. He finally emerged and after a couple of minutes to find his bearings bundled into the “battlebus” for a two mile trip to a pub called the Greyhound, where the plan was to canvass a street or two before lunch. All the while, people in passing cars rolled down the windows and shouted a cheery “Hello Boris!” at a frequency that only hinted at the patience people of Boris’s popularity must have. After Boris had noted things were running a little late, he managed to meet a few of the locals. Sadly the plans for making up time were scuppered – for every time he knocked on the door, it seemed like they wanted to keep him there for as long as possible. I distinctly remember one resident following him up her drive, determined to keep the conversation going…
During the morning we picked up first Jaq and then Barry, two regular commenters on the official website and both of whom were wonderful to meet. Jaq had travelled all the way from Stourbridge, a sure sign of her dedication. Barry, on the other hand, had only travelled from Henley but still managed to get lost and arrive last, bless him.
There’s little doubt, of course, that he’ll have a successful election – as the Financial Times put it, “it would take the entire Spectator staff to be caught in flagrante with asylum-seeking Romany Sinn Fï¿½in supporters – or, worse, Lib Dems – to shake the pure faith of the Tory vote hereabouts.” But it must be odd for him. Here he is, in his own eyes a perfectly normal human being, forging out a career to bring home the bread and furnish his family – but receiving all this attention from the media and adulation from the general public by merely talking and writing his thoughts. But there’s definitely something about Boris, a theory borne out when we reached the White Lion pub for a brief drink. As I entered the bar, Boris set about discussing the current state of Boriswatch. “It’s thriving!” I reported. “Ah, that reminds me,” Boris replied, searching for a pen and paper. “I must write a piece for my own site. It’s been a while.” And with that, he scribbled down some pages of A4, completely off the cuff, standing at the bar. Just like that. It’s a gift, I tell you.
After a hearty pub lunch, during which I consumed a burger that would easily feed a small group of Iraqi insurgents, my friend and I made our excuses and headed (with a little help from Barry, who had by now mastered the route) to Henley. The picturesque town had the beginnings of its Regatta regalia, and we watched the world go by from the river bridge. Sadly, the Alsatian of Time was drooling relentlessly at our heels, and we eventually had to leave the sunny town behind.
Boris was unexpectedly whisked off for lunch at the local rugby club mid way through our pints at the White Lion, so it was more of a Morning in the Life of Boris. The unpredictable nature of political life muscled in on his time but it was certainly enough to sample the hectic Boris whirlwind. Everybody seems to want a piece of him – and who can blame them?
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