Johnson’s Life of London

Boris Johnson, that is.

Say what you like about him – and plenty of people do – Boris, the inventor of the bike, is a pretty brainy sort of bean. He eats latin tags for brekkers, and knows all sorts of smart facts about the capital, lots of which he’s crammed into a series of essays about some of his favourite characters from its history. Most of the usual suspects are there – Boudicca, Dick Whittington, Shakey, the Other Johnson Chap (Samuel) and so forth. Plus a couple of possibly lesser known fellows (WT Stead, Mellitus). It’s all done in good knockabout style, and there are tons of little nuggets about each of the characters or life in London at the time.

However, there does seem to be a pretty clear undercurrent, which is that London is a port and a place where business is done and that leads to cool stuff happening too and that it is possible to be a business-friendly mayor of London and do other jobs (like… Prime Minister?) at the same time. And it’s just a bit… I don’t like it much. If you’re going to write a book about London, write it about London. If you’re going to write a manifesto, do that instead.

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