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  • Writer's pictureDavid Mathews

Cave man Johnson?

My chum Arthur (Sir Arthur Whatnot) is mightily upset. I'll tell you in a minute what's tipped him over the edge, but being the chap he is, he's turned his crossness in a creative direction, and come up with a thought experiment.

Imagine, he said, Boris Johnson in charge of the Thai cave rescue of the Wild Boars footie team. Go on, just do it. Spend 60 seconds imagining that.

Do it before you read on.

Okay? Done?

Arthur, you now might like to know, is a rugby fan, and from his erstwhile professional standpoint as psychiatrist has taken a particular interest in the manner in which club and international coaches conduct themselves. You should hear him on Eddie Jones. Over the years, since the days of the late, great John Reason, Arthur has drawn considerably on the reports and opinions of The Daily Telegraph rugby pages. Their quality has allowed him to forgive many of the aberrations of the paper in the political sphere.

But this week came an announcement by the Telegraph that they were giving Johnson a weekly column. Only seconds after he quit as Foreign Secretary, Johnson was, the paper said, 'coming home'.

'What does this say about you that you have so eagerly hired the laziest and most maladroit Foreign Secretary I can recall?' This in a letter Arthur proposed to send to the Telegraph's editor. Arthur went on to proffer various answers to his own question, involving such terms as self-regarding, incontinent, unprincipled, promiscuous, boorish, purveyor of bile, disregard for facts.

I counselled against the letter. Arthur is normally a wise old bird, and for him to mimic Johnson's propensity for insult would be more than I could bear. Arthur has not sent the letter. His acquiescence cost me a rather special bottle of Madeira, but yielded the Thai thought experiment, for which I take no credit at all.

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