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Iain Maciver: Congratulations to Boris Johnson on virtually being prime minister

A protester demonstrates against Boris Johnson after allegations of Downing Street Christmas parties during 2020 (Photo: Amer Ghazzal/Shutterstock)
A protester demonstrates against Boris Johnson after allegations of Downing Street Christmas parties during 2020 (Photo: Amer Ghazzal/Shutterstock)

Storm Barra was not named after the island of Barra? That’s going to kill the atmosphere in the bar of the Castlebay Hotel tonight.

Barrachs have been partying out on that since they thought that storm had put Eilean Bharraigh on the international map. Sorry. It was actually named after a BBC Northern Ireland weather forecaster called Barra Best.

Mr Best is named Barra after Saint Finbarr of County Cork, in the south-west of Ireland, his home area. Saint Finbarr was Bishop of Cork and patron saint of Cork city.

No one is quite sure how our island got its name. Barra may also represent the name Finnbarr, some say. It seems more likely, though, that the Old Norse influence brought in berr or barr – bare or rough. Others think it comes from the 1,257-foot hill above Castlebay, known as Heaval. On it since 1954 is the landmark statue of Our Lady of the Sea.

The Virgin and Child, to give it its proper name, is not so well known as Christ the Redeemer, looking down on Rio de Janeiro. Same idea, though.

There are other local differences, too. A summit in Spanish is cumbre. A summit in Gaelic is barr. Barr? You see, that could also be where it comes from. Ach, who knows? My head hurts.

Boris is no Mastermind

Like Boris Johnson’s head? No matter what he does, pushy journalists give him a headache by continuing to ask him about alleged parties last Christmas in Downing Street, with his staff allegedly downing booze all night long. See what I did there?

It now turns out that Boris was at one of the Christmas parties, but only virtually. So he is virtually the prime minister. He may also be virtually an ex-prime minister. Now his excuses have changed. Last week they were that no rules were broken. This week it changed to: Boris broke no rules.

The front page of The Sunday Mirror on December 12, featuring an image of Boris Johnson appearing as a quizmaster during a December 2020 Downing Street social event that went against Covid regulations at the time (Photo: Aaron Chown/PA)

Boris was conducting proceedings, as the quizmaster. Well, he wouldn’t have had the faultless delivery of John Humphrys on Mastermind or Jeremy Paxman on University Challenge.

I imagine Boris saying: “Right, the nature round. This is one for the civil service, so cabinet ministers must sit it out. Can you name one of the Big Five African animals?” Someone shouts out: “Rhino!” Boris replies: “I know you do, Jacob Rees-Mogg, but it’s not your turn.”

I don’t think the next PM will be Liz Truss. Unless there’s a political earthquake even bigger than the one that gently shook the bejaysus out of some people in Ullapool at the weekend

Here’s a question he didn’t ask. Whose turn is it to be PM? Since Boris is faltering, the waiting wannabes are understood to be foreign secretary Liz Truss, home secretary Priti Patel, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt and the favourite by far, chancellor Rishi Sunak – also known as Dishy.

And, it says here, another former health secretary, Matt Hancock, has said he would consider the premier role, if asked. Wait a minute, I need to take my eyebrows off the ceiling after reading that.

Time for some new Christmas TV

So, it’s either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, then. And I don’t think it’ll be Liz Truss. Unless there’s a political earthquake even bigger than the one that gently shook the bejaysus out of some people in Ullapool at the weekend. Let us hope that is not repeated soon.

Like these ancient television shows are repeated. Why are broadcasters not paying any decent money to make new festive programmes? It’s been the same ones for ages. I have just found an old copy of the Radio Times from 1968. I mention it in case anyone wants to know what is on TV this Christmas.

We still want classic films, though. Having just recorded It’s A Wonderful Life for festive showing, I know it wouldn’t be a Yule without George Bailey of Bailey Brothers Building and Loan and the angel Clarence high up on the bridge in Bedford Falls.

I will flop in front of the telly with a can. Unfortunately, since I had Covid the other week, I still have no taste. So I’ll make it a can of Dulux and paint the living room black.


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