Boris Bilks Busker?

Just been sent an interesting, allegedly first hand story about Boris Johnson, Tory candidate for London Mayor, while he was in Croydon recently making a public appearance.

During a “walkabout” he posed with a local singer/songwriter and street “busker” Claire Toomey for a photo opportunity.

As he stood with Claire, who was singing a new song, she had written called "Found”, he started “smiling wildly” and waving a £20 note as if he was about to give her the money in appreciation of her musical talents.

What a generous guy?

However, once the accompanying photographers had finished taking pics, he immediately put the £20 note back into his wallet, thanked Claire, then walked off quickly to have his picture taken with the next mug. Claire was not amused.

Mean git more like it?

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Re: Boris Bilks Busker? (#1)

No he didn't - check your facts - he gave Claire some change - why use this story to spread mailciousness!  Fancy using a busker as a political tool for your own ends.  Poor girl!

Re: Boris Bilks Busker? (#4)

As other comment - the singer and my source confirm that Boris did not leave any money.  Wot a meany Boris is!

Re: Boris Bilks Busker? (#8)

Yes, poor girl for having to run into a tight-fisted Tory toff like Johnson!

I doubt he's ever given money to the poor and needy in his life.

Re: Boris Bilks Busker? (#2)

I am afraid that is as accurate as a Wikipedia entry or a Lee Jasper denial.

Making up tall stories is not going to help come the mayoral election.  Clean out the labour Aegean stables first!

Re: Boris Bilks Busker? (#3)


As much as I am reluctant to cite Guy Fawkes blog as any sort of reference, it would appear that the story is not a “tall story”.  The busker and photography “confirms” the story.  Although there is a dispute about some of the facts.  My source is however, adamant that it is true!  It shows Boris Character in a new and yet another negative light.

Re: Boris Bilks Busker? (#5)

Is that comment dishonest or merely stupid?  You post a link to Guido saying his story backs yours, but if anyone follows the link they'll see it doesn't at all!  Were you relying on the disgust some hold for Guido and hoping that nobody would follow the trail?

Here's what Guido said.  Doesn't really match what you're saying, does it?:

Guido hunted around for the picture. Guido asked if she knew anyone who had the picture. She suggested Guido contact her PR company. A busker with a PR agent?

Anyway Guido did contact her PR. No picture. She also admits she didn't actually see Boris proffer a £20 note either.

Claire has a nice MySpace site and an album coming out shortly which needs publicity...

UPDATE : Have now got hold of the photographer for the local paper - he says Boris threw some change in the hat - there never was any note. Ken backing bloggers are of course running with the spin...

Re: Boris Bilks Busker? (#6)

Well, for balance let's look at the actual words of the busker to Guido:

I was busking in Croydon in November (ish) and Boris Johnson came up to me and posed in front of me for pictures. He didn't really speak to me. When he left, a passer by came up to me and said did he give you that £20 and I said what £20? When I looked in my guitar case there was nothing there and I thought that was a bit odd.

So she is reporting that a) a passer-by told her that Boris waved a £20 note around near her b) (by a strict understanding of her words) not even a few coins from Boris were in her guitar case.

So this does back up the story to some degree. Though without a photo being found nothing really conclusive. In his later update Guido reports that the photographer disagrees with the busker's account.

Re: Boris Bilks Busker? (#7)

The Rwendland sword of truth slays BlarneyMan....

Re: Boris Bilks Busker? (#9)

Thanks grayee! I spot that the busker, Claire Toomey, passes comment on Boris, without compliments, on her blog. Worth a read:

Me, Boris Johnson and Music

So what has happened with me and Boris?

In November, I was busking, as I sometimes do, in North End in Croydon. Unbeknown to me, Boris Johnson, the Conservative mayoral candidate was in town on the campaign trail. Boris bounced up like Tigger and proceeded to pose in front of me with his personal PR team and several cameras. I was singing my single "Found", whilst Boris, with me as background, started posing for photos. Finally, he stood, arm outstretched, appearing to be casting coins into my guitar case. He then bounced away with his team chasing after him as quickly as he had arrived.

I was left a bit bemused. At this point, someone came up to me and suggested Boris had a £20 note and had he given it to me? I looked in my guitar case but there was no note.

So what?

In order to stand there busking, I had to have a license and written approval from Croydon Council to street perform. I also have to be licensed to perform on the Underground. When I made a video a few month's earlier, I specifically had to seek permission for people to be filmed.

How is it then that Boris, can waltz up, take a photo with me and waltz off again without uttering a word? In the business of his campaign, he neither asked my permission; thanked me nor paid me for the photo oportunity. He presumed I was a usable prop, happy to support him and his endeavours.

Boris is clearly a colourful character but that should not put him above the need for common decency and respect for the people he wants to vote for him.

Subsequently, on several political websites, Tory bloggers have accused me of being a Labour plotter. They have also made sexist remarks. Perhaps more relevant, though, they have demonstrated total ignorance of me, buskers and the music industry.

It seems to me, Boris's bloggers are somewhat confused between buskers and beggars. As a busker I am part of a community of artists and musicians honing our craft, working hard doing a job we love and hopefully along the way contributing to the culture of our city.

In relation to this incident, I understand Boris may be "careful with his money" (See Daily Express Friday 7th March). However, if he wants to make amends to me on behalf of London buskers everywhere for this ungentlemanly behaviour, he is always welcome to come and play tambourine next time I am busking in Croydon. Even better, those deep pockets that he reached into (See Evening Standard, Friday, 7th March) could be shortened so that he can reach the money this time!!

In the interests of political balance, the invitation to play tambourine is also open to Ken Livingston.

I am already working on a version of "Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner" in anticipation!!

Re: Boris Bilks Busker? (#10)

Nice story. 

Re: Boris Bilks Busker? (#11)

Nice story. 

Re: Boris Bilks Busker? (#12)

Nice story. 

Re: Boris Bilks Busker? (#13)

Nice story. 

Re: Boris Bilks Busker? (#14)

Nice story. 

Re: Boris Bilks Busker? (#15)

Nice story.