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Home > Media

A Load of Old Canniballs

17 September 2006

'For 10 years, we in the Tory party have became used to Papua New Guinea-style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing; and so it is with a happy amazement that we watch as the madness engulfs the Labour Party.'

So quoth everyone's favourite disgraced strawberry blonde Etonian Tory fop (tm), Lord Sir Boris of Johnson on his blog the other day. Naturally, this rather succulent image of which we would have been quite proud drew gasps and shrieks of horror from papers, politicians and Papua New Guineans alike. The latter were probably most upset because now their nation is going to be irrevocably linked in the public consciousness with Liverpool. Shudder. Anyway, the country's High Commissioner in London actually used the words 'shocked and appalled', so we can safely assume it was a dark day for them. Worse even than the day in 1893 when they ran out of ketchup.

Everyone promptly conveniently forgot that Boris (referring to him as 'Johnson' just seems wrong, somehow) didn't actually write *that* Spectator article, suggesting that Liverpudlians were puling professional victims. He as editor was the one propelled by the bony elbow of Michael F. Howard to go and apologise to the alleged puling professional victims of Liverpool, and so despite not actually being that habitually offensive, he's sort of become the new Prince Philip. That incident was far removed from this one, in any case - that was a whole article hinging on a rather trenchant condemnation of all Scousers as evil thugs with a poor-me complex. Papua New Guineagate on the other hand is naught but a carelessly tossed-off figurative illustration. We toss those off all the time. Like hungry rats in a grain bin.

Of course, it's not very nice for the non-cannibals of Papua New Guinea, as it's quite some time since they may or may not have eaten their own grans, but still Boris is now obliged to eat his own words. And eat them he did, in a marvellously, subtly ungracious sort of way:

'I meant no insult to the people of Papua New Guinea who I'm sure lead lives of blameless bourgeois domesticity in common with the rest of us.'

Heh. Boris. It seems like a barely-concealed huff at the increasing willingness of the world to pander to people's rather precious outrage so readily and with such largesse. Yes, you don't want some high-profile oaf going round insinuating you're a bunch of baby-eating bastards (even in a tiny little aside on a blog), but is it not possible to rise above it? Make a little quip, slyly acknowledging that all this business is quite wonderful publicity? Embarrass the cringingly right-on fools running around screeching on your behalf, by demonstrating that you are dignified and about as bothered as a ton of Catherine Tate?

It may be that people just don't feel they can take the risk of allowing the public to make up its own mind anymore. It's too dangerous to invest the shuffling, brain-softened herd with enough smarts to see through a mildly iffy comment. Still, it's understandable that an overlooked nation would react to a mention of itself by a British politician, out of surprise if nothing else. The last time Papua New Guinea got this much exposure was sometime in the murky rave-splattered early 90s, when ambient techno duo Future Sound of London named a track after it. And that time everyone was on pills and didn't notice.

We dunno though, we wonder if we may just have some kind of offensiveness blind-spot with Boris. Despite many reports that he's an exceptionally devious, manipulative little bleeder who plays up to his bumbling image as shrewdly as any voluptuous bimbo in the news, our immediate reaction to any mention of him is generally a fond 'Ahh, Boris'. Philandering, mendacious Tory bugger he may be, but he could probably be caught on camera using a live kitten to smash the window of an orphanage in order to steal their pudding, and we'd still tilt our heads and say 'That lovable fluffy-headed old scamp!'

It's a bit completely obvious to point it out, but politicians, in their own little insidious and damning ways that they may not even be aware of themselves, get away with rampant stereotyping every day without a hint of censure. As of course do journalists and columnists (hello, Littlejohn, you cunt). In turn, we stereotype politicians (ugly grasping nefarious buffoons or vampires), and everyone stereotypes journalists (amoral scumbag talentless embittered hacks). And similarly barely a day goes by when one of us doesn't say something bitchy and garlic-augmented about the French. Pound for pound, then, the supposed affront of the entire nation of Papua New Guinea as represented by a couple of individuals is pretty small beans. Boris may be boorish (in fact, 'boorish' without 'Boris' is merely 'oh') but he's... well, he's only bloody Boris. It's the quiet ones you need to watch.

Boris has said that he's happy to 'add Papua New Guinea to my global itinerary of apology'. His apologies are so ace, he could become some kind of new Jesus, apologising for all our sins. You could even hire him, like an after-dinner speaker, to go on his knees to those you have maligned. In which case, we propose he should start, on behalf of The National Dairy Council, with the great nation of Accrington Stanley.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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