I never read any
of the freesheets handed out in London on the grounds that I am unsure which
are pouring more money into the evil that is Paul Dacre and his Mail
newspapers. But as I travelled on the tube last night it was impossible to
escape front pages about Boris Johnson and the f word. From what I could
gather, he had launched a tirade at Labour MP Keith Vaz, and used the f word
many times during the process. And so it proved.

This is quite interesting, possibly
revealing of something important. I have had many conversations with Boris down
the years, particularly when we were journalists, and he has never come over to
me as a swearer. I can remember many occasions on which he said crikey, cripes,
corker, blimey, gosh, whizzo and the like but I do not recall him using the f
, the c word, or the w word.

I cannot say the same for myself. I am neither proud nor ashamed to admit I am
a terrible swearer. All of the above, especially f and w, regularly leave my
lips. The f word in particular lends itself to so many different shades of
description and emotional expression that I tend to defend its use, provided it
is not entirely gratuitous. On the c word, I know it is considered beyond the
pale by many, but I am afraid there are some people for whom it is the only one
that will do.

There is a fair amount of swearing in my diaries – indeed my lawyer felt it
necessary to defend the principle of swearing in diaries at the Hutton Inquiry – though I have yet to match the creativity of my uncle Jim who once,
confronted with a piece of farm machinery that refused to perform, kicked it
and screamed ‘fuck it, the fuckin’ fucker’s fucked tae fuckin’ fuckery.’ I
simply do not accept this was the refuge of someone not good with words. It was
a superb piece of emotional expression. 

My uncle Jim, sadly no longer with us, was an otherwise mild-mannered, gentle,
teetotal Ayrshire farmer. His f word tirade was the result of f for
frustration. I imagine the same must have been the case with BJ. But I think
there may be something else going on here, namely Boris’s inability to take
criticism or pressure. When the going gets tough, he lashes out.

Not a good
sign in a leader. But then what have we really seen to indicate a leader is
what he is? It’s less his use of the f word that bothers me – more that I have
seen little to dispel the view I developed during his campaign for mayor,
namely that the f word which best applies to Boris rhymes with tool.