Boris Johnson. We're delighted...

newstatesman.com's campaign to help the Conservative Party with its London mayoral primary sees Bori

Cast your minds back a few weeks and you will recall that we at newstatesman.com were urging our London-based readers to get involved in the Tory London mayoral primary.

For the price of a £1.50 phonecall and, regardless of your own voting intentions, you could register to have a say in who would go head-to-head with Ken Livingstone in the name of Conservatism...

There were four contenders: Victoria Borwick, Andrew Boff, Warwick Lighfoot and Boris Johnson. All were invited to pen us a piece and only Boris declined to do so. He was on holiday in America at the time.

Our interest in the Tory showdown, such as it was, was inferred in some quarters to be mischievous. Some seemed to think we were trying to convince people on the left of the political spectrum to get involved in order to scupper the blond bombshell's mayoral bid. A suggestion which hurt us deeply.

In fact, as I told the BBC's Brian Wheeler: "If you want the Conservatives to lose, it's true you could vote for the one you considered the most hopeless." But after all that could have been Boris, couldn't it?

And in any case, if stopping Boris was on our minds at newstatesman.com - and I maintain the whole notion is questionable - we were resoundingly unsuccessful.

For it has been announced that the member for Henley will indeed go head-to-head with Red Ken, Green Berry and some Lib Dem or other in next year's contest.

In the primary Boris won 15,661 votes, Borwick got 1,869 votes, Boff 1,674 and Lightfoot picked up 609 votes.

It was one of those ballots that offers you four choices - you put '1' by your favourite, '2' by your second favourite and so on up to four times. I voted three times...

Actually come to think of it I may have voted six times because I left it all rather late and then having posted my ballot last thing on Tuesday thought 'what with the Post Office these days I'd better do it online' but I think we'd better skip over that detail.

So what happens next? Well it depends how you look at it. Maybe we are at the start of seven months of hilarity - London laughing all the way to the polls and then waking up to the hangover of a BoJo mayoralty.

Or perhaps, we will all get to sit back and enjoy ourselves as Lexus Dave's Conservatives unravel and Boris blunders with a series of gaffes that simultaneously offend everyone AND expose his almost total ignorance of the governance of one of the greatest cities on earth.

Or maybe he will surprise us all. Maybe.

Back to the Tory mayoral primary briefly. A Conservative Party spokesman said the contest had "captured the interest of the public and has helped challenge voter apathy". Not with under 20,000 votes from a City of 7.5 million it hasn't! But awfully well done for trying...

Ben Davies trained as a journalist after taking most of the 1990s off. Prior to joining the New Statesman he spent five years working as a politics reporter for the BBC News website. He lives in North London.
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I can’t follow Marie Kondo's advice – even an empty Wotsits packet “sparks joy” in me

I thought I’d give her loopy, OCD theories a go, but when I held up an empty Wotsits bag I was suffused with so many happy memories of the time we’d spent together that I couldn’t bear to throw it away.

I have been brooding lately on the Japanese tidying freak Marie Kondo. (I forgot her name so I typed “Japanese tidying freak” into Google, and it was a great help.) The “Japanese” bit is excusable in this context, and explains a bit, as I gather Japan is more on the case with the whole “being tidy” thing than Britain, but still.

Apart from telling us that we need to take an enormous amount of care, to the point where we perform origami when we fold our underpants, which is pretty much where she lost me, she advises us to throw away anything that does not, when you hold it, “spark joy”. Perhaps I have too much joy in my life. I thought I’d give her loopy, OCD theories a go, but when I held up an empty Wotsits bag I was suffused with so many happy memories of the time we’d spent together that I couldn’t bear to throw it away.

After a while I gave up on this because I was getting a bit too happy with all the memories, so then I thought to myself, about her: “This is someone who isn’t getting laid enough,” and then I decided that was a crude and ungallant thought, and besides, who am I to wag the finger? At least if she invites someone to her bedroom no one is going to run screaming from it, as they would if I invited anyone to my boudoir. (Etym: from the French “bouder”, to sulk. How very apt in my case.) Marie Kondo – should bizarre circumstance ever conspire to bring her to the threshold – would run screaming from the Hovel before she’d even alighted the stairs from the front door.

I contemplate my bedroom. As I write, the cleaning lady is in it. To say that I have to spend half an hour cleaning out empty Wotsits packets, and indeed wotnot, before I let her in there should give you some idea of how shameful it has got. And even then I have to pay her to do so.

A girlfriend who used to be referred to often in these pages, though I think the term should be a rather less flippant one than “girlfriend”, managed to get round my natural messiness problem by inventing a game called “keep or chuck”.

She even made up a theme song for it, to the tune from the old Spiderman TV show. She would show me some object, which was not really rubbish, but usually a book (it may not surprise you to learn that it is the piles of books that cause most of the clutter here), and say, “Keep or chuck?” in the manner of a high-speed game show host. At one point I vacillated and so she then pointed at herself and said, “Keep or chuck?” I got the message.

These days the chances of a woman getting into the bedroom are remote. For one thing, you can’t just walk down the street and whistle for one much as one would hail a cab, although my daughter is often baffled by my ability to attract females, and suspects I have some kind of “mind ray”. Well, if I ever did it’s on the blink now, and not only that – right now, I’m not even particularly bothered that it’s on the blink. Because, for another thing, I would frankly not care to inflict myself upon anyone else at the moment.

It was all a bit of a giggle eight years ago, when I was wheeled out of the family home and left to my own devices. Of course, when I say “a bit of a giggle”, I mean “terrifying and miserable”, but I had rather fewer miles on the clock than I do now, and a man can, I think, get away with a little bit more scampish behaviour, and entertain a few more illusions about the future and his own plausibility as a character, when he is squarely in his mid-forties than when he is approaching, at speed, his middle fifties.

Death has rather a lot to do with it, I suppose. I had not actually seen, or touched, a dead body until I saw, and touched, my own father’s a few weeks ago. That’s what turns an abstract into a concrete reality. You finally put that to one side and gird up your loins – and then bloody David Bowie snuffs it, and you find yourself watching the videos for “Blackstar” and “Lazarus” over and over again, and reach the inescapable conclusion that death is not only incredibly unpleasant, it is also remorseless and very much nearer than you think.

And would you, dear reader, want to be involved with anyone who kept thinking along those lines? I mean, even if he learned how to fold his undercrackers into an upright cylinder, like a napkin at a fancy restaurant, before putting them in his drawer? When he doesn’t even have a drawer?

Nicholas Lezard is a literary critic for the Guardian and also writes for the Independent. He writes the Down and Out in London column for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 05 February 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Putin's war