Boris Johnson took my train this morning. He was opening the new Imperial Wharf station on the West London line. On the platform, he was accompanied by TV, press and various hangers on. (BTW This is not what you want when you are coming into work late after a Dr’s appointment). Boris must have had a good impression as he boarded the shiny train from the brand new station and travelled on all the way to West Brompton.
Two minutes later Boris got off. This is not a long time to get a real impression of the railways. The usual entourage, with fixed Jack Nicolson’s smiles, circled Boris like wagon trains in the old west. The natives could not get close. And conveniently for Boris, he took the first train after the rush hour. An hour earlier, if he had managed to board the train, even two minutes would have been a proper education. As it was everything was perfect. Job done, next photo op. please.
Out of touch politicians cause poor government. So it was sad to see Boris be exposed to a rather bogus view. He will take away shiny steel and glass, empty trains and happy faces from those precious two minutes. What a shame he did not have to miss a train due to overcrowding, step over the rubbish or breathed the stale air of sweaty armpits.
I don’t blame Boris. Every politician from every party suffers from this. Exposed to new hospital wards, new motorways or shiny military equipment they get a warped view of the world. Functionaries are too eager to please and success has to be presented all the time. In fact,not only do I not blame Boris, I feel sorry for him. After twelve months, he’s already treading the well worn path that leads to political failure.
What can we do? Can the Internet cut through the smiles and polish and tell politicians how things really are? Do they listen? One thing is for certain, it is our responsibility to keep those in office in touch with reality. If we don't, no-one will. The Internet is a great new tool. Let's see if it works. Boris Johnson boarded my train today. He got a partial view of commuters’ lives. If he wants to be a good mayor, I think he should correct this.
So Boris, if you’re out there, I invite you to see another world. Buy a black wig and some glasses. Keep the rucksack and the crushed suit, they'll fit in nicely (you will have to put the bag down though). Slip your leash and take the 8:34 and get two minutes of raw 2009 London if you dare. We look forward to hearing from you.