Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Old hands push new backs as Boris takes the chair

Boris circled the room manfully shaking hands and patting backs. From the other side his Transport Director Kulveer Ranger did the same until the two silently crossed paths.

Halfway around the horseshoe and Boris Johnson stopped for a long chat with Steve Norris. Norris, who some say should be the man chairing the board, appeared to be cribbing up the new boss.

And with once Chairman Tim Parker burning magazines in Australia, and with his Deputy Chair absent as well, it was down to Boris alone to get proceedings underway.

But as he began his opening statement it was not board finances, but annoyed commuters who got in his way:

"Can't we get an agenda in advance?" shouted an elderly man from the audience.

Boris carried on.

"Can't you use a bit of reason man?"

Boris told him to write to him.

"I did write to you and I did not get an answer."

Boris stumbled on. The man's wife joined in the assault:

"I thought things would get better with you but they have got worse."

Boris called for security, but the couple refused to give up.

"I would like to suggest" continued the woman, "that you make Ken Livingstone the chairman instead." 

Boris quickly adjourned the meeting.

But with his hecklers refusing to leave and with time ticking on, Boris stepped into the gallery for some direct diplomacy. 

And with a promise that they could deliver a 'two sentence' presentation, the meeting began again.

But with normal proceedings in danger of getting going, it was Boris's tutor who brought them back to a halt.

"I can't see how it is going to take until 2015 to phase out all of the artics," put in Steve Norris. Boris looked on dumbfounded.

"That seems like an extraordinary length of time to me. I understand, in fact I know, that they could do it from tomorrow."

Hendy whittered something about not getting a 'bargain basement deal' but Norris was unconvinvced.

"I know that we could negotiate this with them sooner if we wanted... unless of course we don't want to do it at all."
Boris's smile had by now fixed into rigor mortis. This was not what he had expected from his old chum.

And with his eyes down, he listened as Hendy replied for him, before looking up and quickly adding:

"The important thing is that we get value for money"
Which it seemed was all that was needed to be said.


Helen said...

Was Ken in the audience?

The Troll said...

No, it was pretty empty really. Apart from my good self and perhaps a couple of others I think the hecklers were pretty much the only members of the public who turned up.

It must have been a bit of a come down after his conference speech.

will said...

Well the Tories certainly seem a lot happier with him than the rest of us. He might be able to pull all the crowds and columnists up in Birmingham but down here we just want him to get on with the job.

Tom said...

You're joking? Did it really go like that? More! More! I want to hear about Boris the stout bendy defender against the Norrisite Hordes. This is fascinating, and also no way to railway. Or a bus network. Or a cycle network or Metronet or in fact anything else. If only I had some days off left this year.

Norris is advocating paying off the bus companies, by the way. Boris is thinking of the holes in his budget. Norris is supposed to be the reliable old hand, remember.

There are no bus experts on the TfL Board.

The Troll said...

Hendy said that the 'controversy' surrounding the cost of the bendy Routemaster policy meant that they needed to be careful to get the best deal.

Norris on the other hand seemed very keen to make his presence felt.

In fact I'm pretty sure that he spoke more than anyone else there, including Boris.

If you have time then watch the BBC London report tonight. There's a great shot of Boris's face as Norris goes on the offensive.

Mr. Stop Boris said...

This sounds like great viewing. I wonder if there's a webcast available?

I'm out this evening but I'll rely on Series Link to preserve BBC London for my entertainment when I get home. Unless of course my hosts for this evening will indulge my Boris-Watching by putting on the TV and permitting me to be antisocial for a while...

The Troll said...

I have so far been unable to find any TfL webcasts. Does anyone know where they are hidden or if they exist at all?

Dave Hill said...

Hey Troll is it correct that one of the hecklers wore a monocle?

The Troll said...

I think it was more like a monocular. He was using it to keep an eye on Boris and every now and then he would shout at Peter Hendy to speak up and stop mumbling.

The couple said that they were from the Simon Wolff Charitable Foundation. I think they were protesting about the Thames Gateway Bridge.

It was great fun to watch. A certain chair of the transport committee was sitting in the audience and broke into hysterics at one point.

Harold said...

Why is Norris there? Are Jarvis going to build Boris's new routemaster?

Tom said...

Norris is back on the TfL board, from which he was booted by Livingstone in 2001.

"A certain chair of the transport committee was sitting in the audience and broke into hysterics at one point."

Good God, were there many hurt?

The Troll said...

Yes I could have worded that a bit better.

prj45 said...

"There's a great shot of Boris's face as Norris goes on the offensive."

When I watched that and saw Boris pull that face I had a very strong urge to post a letter.


Mr. Stop Boris said...

Mrs. Stop Boris thinks that when pulling that face he looked like a Wallace and Gromit character. "More cheese, Mr. Norris?"

The Troll said...

Come to think of it, there was something of Wallace and Gromit about Boris and Hendy today.