In the evening sun near Tower Bridge, people watch Olympians on a big
screen and cheer. High above them, on the top floor of the bulbous
glass building where he has his office, Mayor of London Boris Johnson is
addressing technology entrepreneurs in a speech that underlines his
Why does Usain Bolt run fast, he asks. Competition - that's why.
The excitement of the crowd outside penetrates the open windows. The
blond mop-haired mayor, selling the British capital in a reception in
the penthouse, warms to his theme. Another example comes from science.
The 17th-century scientist Robert Hooke, Johnson notes, was also
competing fiercely with others in London when he worked out the law of
Strain is equal to stress - "as I proved on that zip wire the other day".
The reference - to the minutes when the Mayor of London dangled
helplessly from an aerial runway above the assembled crowd in a park -
raises a laugh. "Ut tensio sic vis," booms Johnson, offering Hooke's Law
in Latin. The audience roars.
Boris Johnson, or plain "Boris" as he is known to most British
people, was the political victor at the London Olympics. From the
48-year-old's plummy tones encouraging Underground commuters to avoid
congested stations to his imitation of Bolt's victory pose, or his prose
likening female beach volleyball players to "glistening otters", he
turned 2012 into Boris's Games.
Some say he is an unashamed self-publicist seeking political
advantage, some an eccentric, enthusiastic mayor promoting his city. But
many pundits believe he ultimately wants the top job.
Britain's current prime minister, David Cameron, went to Eton, the
elite fee-paying school, just like Johnson, and shared his Conservative
beginnings at Oxford University. Cameron said Johnson "defies all forms
of gravity" and called him a "titan" of their Conservative Party.
In the real world, the economy is struggling, Johnson's critics are
angry that his warnings on the Underground put people off visiting
London, and Britons are asking whether the Games have been worth the
9-10 billion pounds ($14-15.6 billion) investment.