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Last Updated: Friday, 18 June 2004, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
Happy birthday, Boris Johnson
By Simon Stacpoole
Editor, boriswatch.com

As Boris Johnson turns 40, an admirer takes a fond - and completely biased - look at the floppy-haired editor, MP, columnist and 'good egg'.

Boris Johnson
That's not a birthday hat
So, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is teetering on the edge of the Over-40s brigade - a time when slippers are donned and evenings don't come any better than a good sit down in front of a hearty fire, a canine friend by your side.

Boris seems more suited than most to slip into this stereotypical role, a view he recently confirmed with the comment that he'd "performed the mental trick of turning 40 some time ago".

But you can be sure that he won't be kicking off his shoes just yet. No, Boris has plans - big plans.

What is it about this floppy-fringed buffoon - he of the unkempt hair, bumbling prose and general air of utter chaos? How has he commanded such a huge and loyal following among Tories and non-Tories alike? How has he permeated many of the staples of our media world?

Truth is, he's snuck up on the British public like a thief in the night. In this world of trials and tribulations, of huge conflict and political cynicism, the man who Alistair Campbell once described as a "great, quivering mass of indecision" has shown that you can balance a busy working life while having a jolly good time.

Bumble and mumble

In short, he's a thoroughly good egg, a man of supreme integrity - and that's what marks him out from the crowd.

Boris has long been teased about his many occupations - and he has certainly spread himself about in the past decade or so. Editor, columnist, talk show host, fast-rising politician - I'd be surprised if his wife sees him more than once a fortnight.

Look, the point is ... err, what is the point? It is a tough job but somebody has got to do it
Boris Johnson, on becoming shadow Arts Minister
When he blusters and bumbles, it's as if all those thoughts running through his brain are just fighting to come out at the same moment.

His unique brand of inane commentary and humour is something that other cultures would have difficulty understanding - that dry wit, that public schoolboy's outlook on life, the fact that he takes personal hits with great bonhomie and self-effacing charm.

His regular columns in The Telegraph are noted not only for their sparkling wit and command of the English language but also because he consistently hits the nail on the head - it may not be what you want to hear, but you know in the back of your mind that the great buffoon is right.

Has he got news for you

Boris also understands that politicians have never had it so bad. Over the past few years, he has been the sole champion of a profession that seems murkier by the day - an amiable and friendly sort, a chap who would go out of his way to help an old lady across a fearsome road, while juggling elections and constituents' issues with equal fervour.

Boris Johnson plays host on Have I Got News For You
Who's in charge?

His rise up the political ranks has been matched only by his popularity on the small screen.

There were bit parts in some comedy chat shows, but the icing on the cake was a stint on the biting satire show Have I Got News For You in 2002.

The Best of DVD features a two-hour disc devoted to The Full Boris - a recognition of his breakthrough into the wider public view.

How we marvelled at his bumbling prose and flummoxed features as he struggled to keep a steady ship. Watching that televisual masterpiece could bring a tear to a glass eye.

Best of Boris

I created Boriswatch to keep track of his comings and goings through the political and entertainment world.

For his appeal is universal - but is the image of a mad, bumbling fool correct? Surely this buffoon can't hold down a steady job, let alone three? How can he juggle all those balls, and still keep on top of his game?

This facade is what he'd have us all believe.

But underneath that tame, affable charm lies a media-savvy, intelligent, hard-nosed and straight-talking megalith. Despite all those balls he juggles, he never drops a single one - and I reckon he's still got a few neat tricks up his sleeve.

He has become the darling of an increasingly jaded nation - and for that, Boris, we salute you. I know I speak for many when I say - happy birthday, Boris Johnson.

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