Tuesday, November 23, 2021

A tale of two speeches

As I reported, my friend Cristopher spoke very well at the concert for Santa Cecilia on Saturday. He followed the advice given to him NOT to try and ad lib and it worked. 

By comparison, Boris Johnson's speech to the Confederation of British Industry has caused something of a social media storm. In a confused, shambling performance, the Tory premier lost his place repeatedly throughout the speech and spent three minutes talking about his family trip to a theme park based on  Peppa Pig. He asked the assembled businessmen 'Hands up how many of you here have been to Peppa Pig World?':

Johnson managed to refer to himself in the third person by praising the 'vision' of the former Mayor of London, quoted Vladimir Lenin's 'Report On The Work Of The Council Of People’s Commissars' when discussing the 'electrification' of the British economy.

He also compared himself to a biblical prophet, suggesting he had descended from 'Mount Sinai' to hand civil servants his Net Zero framework. 

The highlights were dominated by awkward moments: Johnson asking the room early on who had received their booster shots, only to quickly follow up that everyone looked ‘young and thrusting’ – presumably to cover for an insufficient number of hands in the air. A chunk of the speech was dedicated to the PM reminiscing about what he said was his favourite job to date: his time as motoring correspondent for GQ magazine. This anecdote culminated in Johnson imitating the ‘vroom, vroom’ of a petrol engine.

There was a long and awkward pause as he lost his place in his notes and had to apologise several times as Johnson fumbled with the papers. 

Johnson is known for going off track in speeches, often to the dismay of his advisers. He likes to throw in jokes and anecdotes which the tory faithful seem to enjoy. However, as Prime Minister leading the country through a series of crisis, we might just expect him to be more serious and more focussed at the moment. 

At the end, one concerned reporter asked him if he was OK to which he replied that he thought his speech had gone down well. 

Johnson with his son Wilfred at Peppa Pig World

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