Master Of Puppets

I went to Downing Street to see Spaffer The Big Dog taken on his final sad trip to the vet, but he had already gone.

Yesterday I was also in the office. I expected we would have some announcement by 6 or 7pm so I went round to Parliament Square to see if any flash mobs had been called up. When the “chicken coup” against Corbyn was going off after the Referendum 6 years ago a huge crowd of his fans was quickly gathered there to listen to Andy Burnham and a few others declaring they were still loyal. Nothing like that seems to have ever been possible for Johnson. There was nothing happening in the Square but some tourists taking selfies with the big clock face in the background. I saw what seemed to be a foreign correspondent recording a report on his smart phone, arranged to his audience could see his clean shirt and tie and not the shorts and sandals as well.

Today it all seemed very mysterious that he was persisting even after various luminaries had told him the game was up. However by midday I caught up with the news, and I was over at Westminster and walked along Whitehall. Surprisingly few people were gathered.

Mostly tourists waiting for something. The man in the Union Jack yelled for JOHNSON to GET OUT occasionally. A man was declaiming about the unfairness and inequality of the world, and there was a FREE ASSANGE placard but no others. Since there didn’t seem to be any chance we’d actually get to see such heroic figures as Penny Mordaunt and Helen Whateley I drifted off home. There might be bigger events in Trafalgar Square in the next few days, as happened when Thatcher died, but I think I’ll miss them.

The thing about Johnsonism is that it never amounted to anything except the proposition that he was a formidable election-winning figure, and so when that came into doubt it could only unravel very quickly. Like a huge 90s/00s pop group on a major label, as soon as the singles stop reaching the top 5, and the sales forecasts dip and the tours look less profitable, the machine is stopped, cancelled, dropped immediately. There is no slow decline of Later Albums on smaller labels, because the act was never a creative force. It was just an event, and it ended. The different phases and moments were just jabs toward different market sectors, not signs of development. All that remains is the nostalgia circuit, and the endearments of ageing fans who really want to remember and celebrate their own younger selves, the former star is just a useful prop.

This week a different British actor was being celebrated for iconic performances: Joseph Quinn, as Eddie Munson in Stranger Things. I think it’s safe to say that in the long run – within 12 months, no more – more people will fondly recall the greatness of the Metallica guitar solo, and also the “forced conformity” speech, than will ever remember Johnson’s collected moments. And that will unite the fans across the world. We’ve still got it, we can still be involved in great television. A time for celebration.

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