Carrie Symonds has moved into Number 10 with her Prime Minster partner, who is under pressure from his party. The question is, which will last longer – Boris Johnson’s premiership or his relationship with his new squeeze?
Let’s skip over, for now anyway, the 20+ year age difference, and focus on his long-standing serial philandering, which is part and parcel of who he is. A leopard doesn’t change his spots. There is nothing to suggest that Boris’s external transformation, as some see it, masterminded by his PR girlfriend, has taken any deeper root. He may have lost weight and brushed his hair, but the substance is just the same.
It’s a formula as old as time, the heady lure of power and money and sex. From the cheap seats, it reminds me of watching Rupert Murdoch when he married his third wife, Wendy Deng. You could almost see the drama unfold in slow motion as he dumped long-standing wife number two, Anna. He had left his first wife for her and then left her for Wendy, younger, yes, and predatory. Talk about observing in real-time how a vain old fool and his money are easily parted.
Johnson follows in the footsteps of his far more illustrious American counterparts, Presidents John F Kennedy and Bill Clinton, to name two sexually-charged leaders. One of the differences is that their wives were part of the firmament, grounded and ensconced, with years of history between them, and children. Bill and Hillary Clinton chose to stay together because they are well suited. We can only speculate about JFK and Jackie O, but considering the times and their Catholic faith, they might well have continued as a couple.
Symonds doesn’t have much history with Boris, although she must know his turbulent past all too well. Maybe she thinks she can change him, or that he has already changed because of her. He was still married when they got together, and that’s a pattern, not a judgment. Carrie would remember the antics that Johnson and the rest of the staff got up to at the Spectator when he was editor.
Marina Wheeler, Johnson’s estranged second wife, clearly had had enough after 25-years of her husband’s non-stop shenanigans. The constant razzle of rotating romances would try even the most saintly. Had Marina let Boris stay, I imagine, they would still be together. Ms Wheeler and their children would live at Downing St, although she seems to shun the spotlight and might well prefer to pursue her own life.
For now, a dopamine cloud envelopes the new couple, but I wouldn’t trust Johnson as far as I could throw a puffin.
And like puffins, and unlike good wine, men don’t get better with age, as Symonds might find out. Just look at the evidence. Men let themselves go, which is why Carrie had to work on getting Johnson to look a little less scruffy.
One of the best lines of the American sitcom, Frasier, was when the awkward, romantically doomed TV psychiatrist finally gets to date his high school’s most popular girl. They meet again at a class reunion several decades after graduation. “I went to bed with the prom queen and woke up with Carrie,” he says, referring to the horror film. I guess that Boris will soon be up to his old tricks if he isn’t already. The race is on.