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"He was my knight on a shining bicycle"
November 4, 2009 1:04 PM   Subscribe

Franny Armstrong is the director of McLibel, The Age of Stupid, and founder of the 10:10 campaign, which aims to cut 10% of carbon emissions in 2010. She was walking through Camden, North London, on Monday night, when a group of young girls pushed her against a car. One of them was armed with a metre-long iron bar. She called for help from a passing cyclist ... who turned out to be Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London.
"... I said, 'That's the mayor of London!' and they ran off. They must have thought they were going to get in trouble. One dropped the bar, so Boris picked it up and cycled after them. He returned a few minutes later and walked me home, and we talked about 10:10."
Boris is not known for being particularly sympathetic to environmental views (see If you want to be green – kill a cow and Boris cuts environmental team by half). And Franny voted for Boris' rival Ken Livingstone in the last Mayoral elections, although she concedes "If you find yourself down a dark alleyway and in trouble, I think Boris would be of more use than Ken.".

But is there a possibility this chance meeting could have a lasting political effect? Boris and Franny's twitter feeds show that Boris agreed to personally join the 10:10 campaign.
posted by memebake (54 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
The (enter what all high and mighty being you believe in here) works in mysterious ways.
posted by wheelieman at 1:09 PM on November 4, 2009


My understanding is that in terms of political power, the "Mayor of London" has very little. It's not like the Mayor of NYC, for example, which is a very powerful position. The Mayor of London has a lot of visibility but little practical ability to do anything.

At least that's what I've heard.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:10 PM on November 4, 2009


Brilliant! My "Feral Children for Political Change" program worked! The first attempts in the US were less fruitful, with and one of the ruffians reported that Newt gave them a fiver to rough up some more of the local busy-bodies.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:11 PM on November 4, 2009 [14 favorites]


So were the attackers attacking her because she was just there or because she is "Franny Armstrong is the director of McLibel, The Age of Stupid, and founder of the 10:10 campaign,"?
posted by rough ashlar at 1:12 PM on November 4, 2009


This story has everything.
posted by The Whelk at 1:13 PM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who thinks there's something suspicious here? Armstrong is a great advocate of new and novel ways to promote her film, and admitted in an interview on TV that she has been trying to get a meeting with the mayor for months without any luck. Then she calls for help just as the mayor is coming by and then manages to engage him in discussion about her program. At the very least it seems to smell of PR spin to me...
posted by ciderwoman at 1:15 PM on November 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


Boris Johnson has some crazy hair for a politician.
posted by Caduceus at 1:16 PM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, this story would have been better if the Mayor of London had been a woman named Zooey.
posted by Caduceus at 1:20 PM on November 4, 2009


She called for help from a passing cyclist ... who turned out to be Boris Johnson, the Major of London.

Well, the story would also have been a lot better if there was a position called 'Major of London', whose job was to patrol the city on a bicycle, fighting ruffians.
posted by Comrade_robot at 1:23 PM on November 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


Regardless of his politics, I think Boris Johnson is awesome. Everytime I hear about him, he's falling into a river, endorsing Obama, saving people from gangs and having crazy hair. I know he's said some controversial things, and I don't actually have to live under his administration, but he seems like one of those impossible-to-dislike people, even if you don't like his policies.
posted by spaltavian at 1:28 PM on November 4, 2009


Chocolate Pickle: My understanding is that in terms of political power, the "Mayor of London" has very little. It's not like the Mayor of NYC, for example, which is a very powerful position. The Mayor of London has a lot of visibility but little practical ability to do anything.

I think you might be confusing Mayor of London (responsible for an annual budget of £3.2 billion) with the more ancient and ceremonial Lord Mayor of the City of London. Although its true that the Major of NYC is a much more powerful position, with a budget about 10 times larger than the London Mayor.
posted by memebake at 1:28 PM on November 4, 2009


When he said he'd be fighting crime I don't think anyone thought he meant it literally...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:30 PM on November 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Thats right, I cant spell Mayor.
posted by memebake at 1:30 PM on November 4, 2009


Dude needs to quit talking on his blackberry on the bike though.
posted by ghharr at 1:32 PM on November 4, 2009


he seems like one of those impossible-to-dislike people, even if you don't like his policies

As someone who does have to live under his administration I can assure you it's very possible to dislike him. To me all the bumbling is rather calculated to mask some very unpleasant character traits and even more unpleasant policies.
posted by ciderwoman at 1:32 PM on November 4, 2009 [9 favorites]


My understanding is that in terms of political power, the "Mayor of London" has very little. It's not like the Mayor of NYC, for example, which is a very powerful position. The Mayor of London has a lot of visibility but little practical ability to do anything.

Yes, but in this case the mayor of London is Boris Johnson.
posted by mattoxic at 1:33 PM on November 4, 2009


Wiff Waff is coming home
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:33 PM on November 4, 2009


Ahm...I think this is a case of mistaken identity. It wasn't Boris Johnson, it was clearly Gary Busey. Woudn't be the first time..it's an easy mistake to make.
posted by spicynuts at 1:33 PM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


It wasn't Boris Johnson, it was clearly Gary Busey. Woudn't be the first time..it's an easy mistake to make.

No, no, no, silly...it is clearly Nick Nolte.
posted by nosila at 1:52 PM on November 4, 2009


Could someone please define "oiks" for me?
posted by haveanicesummer at 2:34 PM on November 4, 2009


Could someone please define "oiks" for me?

An oik is an old fashioned term for a loutish and ill mannered person, and there's also an inference that they would be working class. It's all part of Boris's supposed charm that he chooses to use such archaic terms for people.
posted by ciderwoman at 2:38 PM on November 4, 2009


Thank you. As long as were defining British Things, what is the foodstuff called "Swede", please?

This has nothing to do with Boris. I've seen it in Terry Pratchett books and it drives me crazy.
posted by boo_radley at 2:46 PM on November 4, 2009


It's a root vegetable, like a turnip. Very nice roasted or boiled and mashed. A bit like Boris.
posted by ciderwoman at 2:48 PM on November 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


A swede is a rutabaga.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:51 PM on November 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


It occurs to me that the lovable Boris, in helping save someone from getting beaten up, may be seeking to make up for that time he agreed to provide a convicted fraudster and self-described "potential psychopath" with the home address of a journalist so that he could have him beaten.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 2:53 PM on November 4, 2009


a group of young girls .. armed with a metre-long iron bar.

typical London experience
posted by stbalbach at 2:55 PM on November 4, 2009


What, that's it? Huh.
posted by boo_radley at 2:59 PM on November 4, 2009


Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson...On his father's side Johnson is great-grandson of Ali Kemal Bey, a liberal Turkish journalist and the interior minister in the government of Damat Ferid Pasha, Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire, who was murdered during the Turkish War of Independence...His father's maternal grandmother, Marie Louise de Pfeffel, was a descendant of Prince Paul of Württemberg through his relationship with a German actress. Through Prince Paul, Johnson is a descendant of King George II of Great Britain, and through George's great-great-great grandfather King James I of England, a descendant of all the previous British royal houses.

(Boris and Marina) have two sons—Milo Arthur (born 1995) and Theodore Apollo (born 1999)—and two daughters—Lara Lettice (born 1993) and Cassia Peaches (born 1997).
You're kidding, right? Poncy Conservative cartoons...
posted by GodricVT at 3:04 PM on November 4, 2009


A swede is a rutabaga.

And Pratchett probably uses them because they're a somewhat utilitarian vegetable. See also: Baldrick's fondness for turnips in the Blackadder series.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:14 PM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I blame the EU - in the good old days, the iron bar would have been three foot or a yard.
posted by Abiezer at 3:15 PM on November 4, 2009 [8 favorites]


My understanding is that in terms of political power, the "Mayor of London" has very little. It's not like the Mayor of NYC, for example, which is a very powerful position. The Mayor of London has a lot of visibility but little practical ability to do anything.

The hell you say. He just saved a damsel in distress from three feral children. Sounds like practical ability to do something to me.
posted by Slap Factory at 3:18 PM on November 4, 2009


He really does cycle about though. I was at friends birthday in the summer and he came pootling through one of the side streets just by Cov Garden with his hi-vis on
posted by Damienmce at 3:24 PM on November 4, 2009


Yes, I cycle regularly in London and Boris is the only famous person I have ever seen cycling past me.
posted by memebake at 3:28 PM on November 4, 2009


What's the difference between this and the Balloon Boy incident in Colorado?

One was a carefully planned publicity stunt and the other resulted in felony charges.
posted by clarknova at 3:45 PM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd be rather sceptical of suggestions this was a stunt. Given the extreme scepticism of people in the UK towards their politicians at the moment, being exposed for misleading people would be a massive political risk, far outweighing the potential benefits of one day's good press. Also, why would Boris choose a left-wing film maker as a conspirator??
posted by prentiz at 4:09 PM on November 4, 2009


Typical European thug liberal bias. If it were Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh, they would never have gotten cornered. And that's a shame, because if Glenn Beck were saved from a tough spot like Franny Armstrong, we could have had Boris Johnson (and by extension, London) join the 9/12 Project and stand up for the founding principles that made America great.

This is what happens when you subsidize higher education, people. Street kids go to school and develop a thirst for knowledge, which logically leads to the urchins developing a taste for intellectuals.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:18 PM on November 4, 2009


@

1. It's not like he's not done it before.

2. The girls, not the woman.

3. British politicians are really good at playing themselves off as decent sorts of chaps.
posted by clarknova at 4:23 PM on November 4, 2009


I'd be rather sceptical of suggestions this was a stunt. Given the extreme scepticism of people in the UK towards their politicians at the moment, being exposed for misleading people would be a massive political risk, far outweighing the potential benefits of one day's good press. Also, why would Boris choose a left-wing film maker as a conspirator??

I don't think it was any kind of stunt on the part of Boris, but to me, with absolutely no evidence to go on, it does sound like a PR stunt on behalf of Franny Armstrong. Like I said I have no evidence to support this other than a knowledge that she's been very creative at finding ways to get her message across in the past, and this is just all so neat it positively reeks of PR.
posted by ciderwoman at 4:23 PM on November 4, 2009


Boris Johnson has some crazy hair for a politician.

I thought he had fashioned himself a makeshift helmet from fiberglass insulation.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:42 PM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


When they say "feral kids", they mean chavs, right?
posted by Phssthpok at 4:59 PM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


WHAT'S THE RATE OF CARBON EMISSION, KENNETH
posted by DU at 5:25 PM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sir John Hewitt, one Lord Mayor Of London certainly lived in one of the fine houses on the bridge and it is told that when his little daughter fell out of the window into the river, Sir John's apprentice, Edward Osborne dived into the Thames to rescue her.

The daughter grew up and although courted by many suitors, Sir John said "No, Osborne saved her and Osborne shall marry her". Osborne did marry her and he in his turn became Lord Mayor of London as well.

posted by ovvl at 5:46 PM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


When they say "feral kids", they mean chavs, right?

Of the Matt Lucas variety, I have no doubt.
posted by gargoyle93 at 5:49 PM on November 4, 2009


Those are the proper expressions for chavs, but they lack the Burberry plaid. They could be white trash from anywhere.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 6:56 PM on November 4, 2009


The only way this story could have been cooler:

She called for help from a passing cyclist ... who turned out to be Bruce Wayne, the Batman.
posted by robotot at 7:00 PM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


...and if it is a PR stunt, surely it wouldn't be too hard for her to stage a mock-mugging along the mayor's usual bicycle route.
posted by robotot at 7:02 PM on November 4, 2009


Wow. He's sort of the polar opposite of Toronto's Michael Bryant.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:03 PM on November 4, 2009


When they say "feral kids", they mean chavs, right?

Feral kids particularly belong to Camden, as coined by theatre/opera director Jonathan Miller in 2002. He caused a local furore by suggesting that the kids were akin to animals.

I was working on the local paper at the time and had to phone his neighbour and fellow Beyond The Fringe-r, playwright Alan Bennett, to ask him what he thought of it all. Before I could even get the question out, he said (put on your best Alan Bennett voice to read this) "I know perfectly well what you're talking about, and I have nothing to say." I was just beside myself that he had even spoken to me instead of hanging up. But I never got to move his piano.
posted by penguin pie at 1:42 AM on November 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hearing about it made me think of the first episode of Peep Show, from about 23:06...
posted by knapah at 3:54 AM on November 5, 2009


Am I the only one who thinks there's something suspicious here?

That was my second thought, too. Everything but the hair is just too tidy.
posted by rokusan at 4:47 AM on November 5, 2009


One dropped the bar, so Boris picked it up and cycled after them.... Boris is not known for being particularly sympathetic to environmental views.

If only he'd been just a bit quicker with his armed pursuit, we'd also know how sympathetic he is to teenage hooliganism.
posted by rokusan at 4:49 AM on November 5, 2009


Biking, chasing oiks, having nuts hair, it's just what I do, I'm the mayor of London y'all.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:00 AM on November 5, 2009


Also, London, your crazy street goon game is simply unbeatable, 12 year old girls with iron bars? Your surreal dystopia is awesome! New York just has some random psychos having arguments with cars and the occasional halfhearted mugger, I didn't even get egged this Halloween.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:08 AM on November 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


What a great story!
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:41 AM on November 5, 2009


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