Michael Deacon: 'Jennifer Acuri refuses to say if her and Boris Johnson had affair... and it makes for spectacular television'
I've never seen anything like it. On ITV's 'Good Morning Britain', Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid spent an entire hour interviewing Jennifer Arcuri, but at times they could barely get a word in. They might as well have tried to interview an exploding fire hydrant. She was a constant unstoppable gush of babbling energy, cascading out in every direction.
"Jennifer!" wailed Morgan helplessly. "Jennifer! Jennifer! Jennifer! Jennifer!" But to little avail. She just surged relentlessly on.
Still, it was spectacular television. The interviewers were attempting to establish whether the young American businesswoman had once had an affair with Boris Johnson and, if so, whether that had anything to do with the decision to award her large sums of taxpayers' money in grants.
Vehemently Ms Arcuri protested their innocence. She and Mr Johnson, who was then mayor of London, had simply "bonded" over a "mutual love of classic literature" ("It was wonderful to have the opportunity to share the love of Shakespeare with someone like that"). Yes, she'd saved his number in her phone under the name "Alexander the Great" ("Al" is what his closest friends call him), but that was just to "protect his privacy". Yes, he visited her flat on numerous occasions, but that was only because they couldn't discuss business (or classic literature) in public without his fans pestering him for selfies. Yes, her living room had a stripper's pole in it, but she only used it for exercise - and no, she never treated Mr Johnson to a demonstration.
The curious thing, though, was that when directly asked if they'd had an affair, she repeatedly refused to answer.
According to her, it was "no one's business what private life we had - or didn't have", and besides, any answer she gave would be "weaponised".
There followed an ad break, which gave viewers time to ponder how saying "no, I didn't have an affair with Boris Johnson" could possibly be weaponised against him.
After the break, Reid made this very point. In response, Ms Arcuri gabbled something about not wanting to "feed the frenzy".
Personally, I would have thought the one thing guaranteed to feed the frenzy about allegations of an affair was a refusal to say whether or not those allegations were true. Then again, it wasn't easy for her interviewers to pin Ms Arcuri down on anything, frankly, given her bemusing habit of flinging their questions back at them: hey, what about Mr Morgan's sex life? When had he last texted Mr Johnson?
She even asked Morgan whether he was "falling in love with me". (He replied she was "a very charming lady".)
Morgan closed by asking what she thought of Mr Johnson "as a man".
"Um ... oh, man," she replied. "You're going to have to read my book!"
Hang on. Her what?
"Just kidding!" she hooted.
I have a strange feeling this won't be her final interview.