Claire Black: What is it with mayors?

REMEMBER when that blond-headed muppet BoJo (Boris Johnson, if you must) was hanging off a zip wire in a carefully choreographed display of his bumblingness – and by that, I mean his long campaign to disguise his Eton-Oxbridge-educated-prime-ministerial-wannabe credentials behind a facade of facetiousness?
A tight-lipped Rob Ford faces the press over drug allegations. Picture: Mark Blinch/ReutersA tight-lipped Rob Ford faces the press over drug allegations. Picture: Mark Blinch/Reuters
A tight-lipped Rob Ford faces the press over drug allegations. Picture: Mark Blinch/Reuters

And that “joke” he made about women only going to university to find themselves husbands (made during a debate with the Malaysian prime minister, no less). Oh, and that time he compared women beach volleyball players competing in the Olympics to “wet otters”. You may struggle to believe this, but, there is another city mayor who makes Bojo’s buffoonery fade into pallid insignificance. I give you the mayor of Toronto, RoFo (Rob Ford, if you must).

Since he was elected in 2010, RoFo, a 44-year-old who looks like a walking advert for the dangers of high blood pressure, has taken the rule book for acceptable behaviour while occupying an elected public office and ripped out its throat while poking out its eyes, which is coincidentally exactly what he was filmed threatening to do to an – as yet – unidentified person in a video that surfaced last week.

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Charming. Well, at least he had the decency to issue an apology for threatening to commit “first degree murder”. Yes, seems reasonable.

It could be that the good citizens of Toronto could forgive RoFo this latest gaffe if it weren’t for the fact that only a few days prior another video (rumours of which had been doing the rounds for months) emerged showing RoFo smoking crack cocaine. Oh dear. Coming clean, and by that I mean making a statement when confronted by incontrovertible video evidence, RoFo acknowledged that not only had he “embarrassed everyone in this city”, he also understood that, “There’s only one person to blame for this and that is myself.” Well, yes, RoFo, that would most certainly be true. He did add, not really as an excuse but more as clarification, that he had smoked crack most likely when he was in “one of my drunken stupors [sic]”.

There isn’t space enough here to trawl through the litany of RoFo’s gaffes. The assault charge made by his wife, Renata, later dropped. The drunken behaviour at sporting events and civic functions. The habit of reading a newspaper while driving. I swear, I’m not making this stuff up.

Two questions come to mind. First, what happens to people’s brains when they are asked to choose mayors? After all, RoFo was elected by a landslide. And second, what is it with people who want to be mayors?

Asked how this story will end – since RoFo is resisting all calls to resign – one of the first journalists to see the crack video, Robyn Doolittle, said perhaps the wisest words in this whole sorry saga: “With this story, I won’t even hazard a guess.” Fair play.

LISTEN, my son won’t even be six months by the time Santa squeezes through the letterbox of our flat (there ain’t no chimney here), but in the interests of both preparedness and prurience I have been casting my eye over the Toy Retailers Association list of “must-have” toys for 2013. It includes a Flutterby Flying Fairy, a Nerf N-Strike Elite RapidStrike CS-18 and an InnoTab 3S. What? Seriously, if you understand any of that, you’re a better parent than me. When exactly did this happen to toys? Yes, it’s true there’s also Monopoly and a doctor’s bag, albeit named after some geezer called Doc McStuffin, but if this is the way these things go in a few years time the boy really could end up with a satsuma and a pair of pants since that will be all I can pronounce.

THE other day, in my local park, I picked up four squished Tyskie lager cans, two crushed cans of Red Bull and an empty box of Golden Virginia. Helpfully, they’d all been deposited behind the bench because presumably a pair of miscreants couldn’t be bothered to throw them any further. It wasn’t hard to pick the whole lot up because they’d also tied the blue bag in which they’d presumably transported their booty from the shop to the bench. Thoughtful. And they were very close to several bins. So, here’s the question – what is it that makes people do this? How can we persuade them to stop? «

Twitter: @Scottiesays