Boris, the unpaid Bullingdon debt, and the “anarchic salad”


New details have emerged about Boris Johnson’s escapades at the Bullingdon Club and during his Oxford Union presidency.

Johnson, who studied Classics at Balliol, is alleged to have struggled to fund his drunken vandalism while a member of the notorious dining society. Some of his contemporaries claim he was unable to pick up restaurant tabs and that the current Mayor of London still owes them money. The claims stem from a recent biography, Just Boris by Sonia Purnell.

Amongst them is one former member who says the Mayor stills owes him at least £125 after he was forced to pay for Boris’s share of a particularly lavish meal one evening. The member even confronted Boris about the debt over twenty years later at a Notting Hill Christmas party, though whether the debt was paid remains to be seen.

Some students were unimpressed with Johnson’s Bullingdon years.  One 2nd physicist called the revelation “embarrassing”.

“It rather shatters the image of Boris as a hair-ruffling champagne quaffing toff,” he added, “but that said, Boris Johnson is a true character, and I would still consider him a true lad.”

The claims stem from a recently published biography, “Just Boris”, penned by freelance journalist with Sonia Purnell.

Purnell worked closely with Johnson during his stint as a euro-skeptic reporter for the Telegraph in the 1990s.

The book also sheds some light on Johnson’s term as Union President, which took place in Trinity of 1986. Oxford contemporary and journalist Toby Young dismissed his Presidency as unremarkable, though current students are praising the term card as “Boris’s greatest political achievement of all time”.

The term card, illustrated by Johnson’s mother, compared the variety of speaker events to the “ingredients of an anarchic salad.”

“After a few moment’s mastication,” it continues, “one becomes aware of several common themes, like onions, beetroots and bananas…so it is with the term card…this term will be talking about Rights, Dutch cheese, Japanese cars and the marble sculptures of the Parthenon.”

“And, by way of a sort of delicious creamy mayonnaise, we have a rich stream of humour and glimmering social events…It’s your Union. It’s your salad. Tuck in.”

“I wouldn’t say this has destroyed my perception of Boris” another said, “But it’s very interesting indeed. For me, he’s just as witty and irreverent as ever and doesn’t hugely change how I perceive him as a politician.”

Second year English student James Pullinger was particularly amused. “This shows him clearly trying to play the game with the rich and the famous. It’s very telling that they helped him out, but I’m amazed anyone lent him any money. Clearly he was just as charismatic in his earlier years.”

One former Union hack recounts in the book how Johnson almost sabotaged his own career early on his Presidency, when he failed to record a committee meeting.”

“There was a panic that he would be banded incompetent if it ever got out,” he said, “[Boris] was obsessed about that accusation about him, so we were very careful to hush it up.”

The book also describes a surreal BBC radio interview with Johnson and Ken Livingstone, his opponent during the 2008 London mayoral elections. Livingstone, who had carefully studied the classics before the election to gain a deeper understanding of Johnson, corrected the former Tory MP after he conflated Shakespeare’s Pericles with the classical Pericles.

“I think Boris knew exactly what he was doing, but didn’t think anyone else would know and was shocked when I caught him out,” he said.

Boris Johnson was unavailable for comment at the time of going to print.


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