10 April 2013

The Boris and Pippa Show

Pippa Middleton has emerged as a celebrity on the strength of being the younger sister of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and likely Queen consort circa 2045. Last year, Time magazine considered Pippa to be one of the 100 most influential people in the world and, who knows, she might appear on their list again in 2013. Wikipedia currently describes Pippa as a ‘socialite’ and a perusal of the rest of the entry suggests that her principal achievement so far has been the authorship of a guide to party planning, Celebrate. Despite her book’s mixed reviews, for example in the Daily Telegraph, Waitrose Kitchen magazine has recently recruited Pippa as a columnist.

I have already posted about Boris Johnson’s appearances on the BBC last week. A couple of days later a feature article appeared in the Spectator written by Pippa and mostly about her skiing holiday, but:
Back home in London after my Alpine challenges, I can now pursue less demanding hobbies in my spare time, such as ping-pong. I’m informed that Boris Johnson, former editor of this magazine, wants to be ‘whiff-whaff’ world king even more than he wants to be Prime Minister. I’m also told the Johnsons are almost as competitive as the Middletons. So I’d like to lay down a challenge to the Mayor. My only stipulation is that I can use my favourite Dunlop Blackstorm Nemesis bat, which I used when I played in the Milton Keynes U13 National Championships, don’t you know. Bring it on, Boris.
There was a rapid follow-up from the Spectator’s gossip columnist Steerpike:
Game on: Boris has accepted Pippa Middleton’s ‘Whiff-Whaff’ challenge. The Mayor of London has declared:  
‘I’m game if she is. Happy for Pippa to join me on a visit and see the benefits of our £22m Sports Legacy Fund in action.’  
While Pippa would no doubt enjoy that, the Spectator is happy to set up a ping pong table in our garden. Pol Roger will be served.  
UPDATE: Mr Steerpike has confirmation Pippa is still up for the contest. I hear she ‘sensed some nerves’ in Boris’s reply.
I was half-expecting to see some critical reaction among the commentariat along the lines of the importance in a constitutional monarchy of members of the royal family keeping out of politics. Of course, Pippa Middleton is not a member of the royal family, but who would have heard of her if her sister wasn’t? And with Boris Johnson Pippa is linking herself to one of the biggest political personalities in Britain, seriously discussed as a future Conservative Prime Minister. But the issue, if it existed, seems to have been overtaken by events, particularly the death of Lady Thatcher. The funeral next week will be attended by the Queen, her second for a former Prime Minister, the first being Winston Churchill's in 1965.

I wonder if any more will be heard of Pippa playing ping pong with Boris.

UPDATE 3 July 2013

As if in belated answer to my last point, Pippa provided another Diary for the Spectator dated 29 June (which becomes available on-line late on 27 June) and concluded:
The last time I wrote in these pages, I issued a challenge to Boris Johnson to take me on at ping pong. The Mayor said he’d be up for it, and his office duly contacted The Spectator to arrange the details. Team Johnson insisted that the match should be held at a venue of their choosing. I said by all means. And then — nothing. The Spectator has tried to follow up, but now it’s radio silence from the Mayor’s office. Is Boris scared or what? He should be.
Should he? Anyway Pippa’s since been getting lots of attention from another quarter, the Mail newspapers: on 29 June, Does Pippa dress in the dark? … Kate's sister can never get her outfit right; on 30 June, Stay out of the limelight, Kate tells Pippa amid concerns she is courting controversy with her high public profile; on 1 July, Peter McKay asked Isn't it time Pippa put her fame to better use?

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