Boris Johnson, mayor of London, flashed onto my radar screen when I heard him interviewed on Weekend Edition. I was inclined to pay attention when I saw last night that he was the subject of a short piece in this week’s New Yorker, but I was shocked when I read the opening paragraph
Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, arrived at the Morgan Library the other evening for the opening of an exhibition of Winston Churchill’s documents. He was due to deliver a speech, and, with forty-five minutes to go, his remarks were still unwritten. “I’ve got to think of something to say—it’s about Churchill’s use of language, is it?” he asked, as he was ushered into John Pierpont Morgan’s wood-panelled music room to prepare. “The power of words. Right.”
Every Toastmaster instinct in me was shocked to think of Johnson flying across the Atlantic, probably on the Morgan’s dime, to give a speech he was just going to deliver off the cuff.
The New Yorker’s piece leaves Johnson “headed for the museum’s atrium, where a lectern awaited” and never tells how Johnson did. There are enough clues, however, to make me think Johnson has the smarts and the speaking skills to have pulled the talk off successfully. Still…
(That Churchill exhibition is an awfully tempting target for speakers. Here’s where you can find out more.)