Stanley Johnson enjoyed ‘wonderful footage’ of Boris dangling from zip wire
Stanley Johnson, 72, noted author and father of London Mayor Boris Johnson, spoke to the Ham&High as the face of this week’s Who’s Who section in the newspaper. His latest book Where the Wild Things Were: Travels of a Conservationist was named Lonely Planet’s book of the month for November.
What brought you to Regent’s Park to live?
We used to live in the Rocking Horse House on Primrose Hill but a few years ago we decided to “downsize” to a smaller house but with a bigger garden! But we still live within striking distance of Lemonia!
What would your perfect day consist of?
I’ve just been in Samarkand and Bokhara on a journalistic assignment, so I’ll settle for the Persian poet Omar Khayyam’s summary of the perfect day (as translated by Edward FitzGerald): A Book of Verses underneath the Bough, A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread – and Thou, Beside me singing in the Wilderness – O, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
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A film is set to be made about your life, who would you choose to play you and why?
To paraphrase Boris, the likelihood of this happening is smaller than the chance of my being reincarnated as an olive!
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Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?
The Rev. David Sheppard. He captained England at cricket, ran the Mayflower Family Centre in Canning Town and went on to become Bishop of Liverpool. Once, when Sheppard dropped a catch at first slip in a Test match when Fred Trueman was bowling, Trueman complained “I wish the Rev Sheppard could keep his hands together on, as well as off, the field!”
You are hosting a fantasy dinner party at home and can invite any three guests, dead or alive. Who would you invite?
Well, of course, I’d invite my mother, who died in 1987 aged 80. Then I’d invite my two sisters (one lives in Australia but I’d get her over for the evening). And maybe, as on Desert Island discs, I’d be allowed a bonus guest. In which case I’d invite my mother’s favourite dog, a yellow Labrador, called Leader. Actually, my mother was convinced she would join her dogs in the next life, so maybe she and Leader have already met up.
Do you have plans to write a new book in the near future?
I am working on a new novel at the moment but am also busy promoting my latest non-fiction book about endangered animals. Thanks to all who came to my talk about the book last month at the Primrose Hill Library!
What was your reaction when you saw the footage of Boris dangling from the zip wire during the Olympics?
Wonderful footage! Give the PR people at City Hall a raise!
Stanley Johnson was in conversation with Tim Lamden.