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Pizza Express and Boris Johnson's 99 problems, but the ditch ain't one

THE MAJOR talking point of the week has been whether Pizza Express is set to go down the swanny. The pizza restaurant chain known, according to This Reporter's private lexicon, as "posh Pizza Hut" revealed it is currently battling £1.1billion worth of debt, which equates to a mammoth £1.6million per restaurant, and in turn, a heck of a lot of dough balls.
The plight of Pizza Express follows on from the news of Thomas Cook going under in the last few weeks and historically matches the tales of woe experienced by high street stalwarts BHS and Woolworths, which are alas no more but, especially in the case of Woolworths, still much bereaved.
Where else, This Reporter ponders could you buy a pick 'n' mix, a cassette tape of Ant and Dec's "Let's Get Ready to Rumble" and a toilet brush in one fell swoop?
Which leads to a serious piece of social commentary, which This Reporter has been keeping under her hat to be revealed at an appropriate time - deemed now - that it was the closure of Woolworths which marked the beginning of everything "going wrong".
Talking of which - though This Reporter would like to interject she was also tempted to link this next section much further up, following on from the mention of dough balls - we come to Brexit and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Who we have to congratulate for a plan come good, if indeed it was his plan, to dream up the most extraordinarily appalling new Brexit deal that the EU was certain to dismiss as absolute piffle and enable him to fulfil his Machiavellian scheme of Brexit No Deal on Halloween.
In summary, Mr Johnson put forward to EU chiefs a revamped version of the backstop plan, which no one particularly understood before, under Theresa May's premiership, but we had colloquially become adjusted to acknowledging was "a very bad thing", with a more complex plan for the island of Ireland, involving not one border, but four.
One within the Irish sea, one a few miles down the road from the official border in some kind of trading warehouse and, please forgive This Reporter, but she is a little perplexed over where the other two lie but is almost certain a decent one and a half of the remainder stand between us, the general public, and Mr Johnson's mind palace.
The EU, on cue, has dismissed this new plan as so far removed from what would be deemed suitable that one spokesperson admitted they thought the plan had been submitted as some kind of joke, whilst German Chancellor Angela Merkel has gone so far as to say not only does she think Britain will fail to secure a Brexit deal before the end of the month but believes they will never be able to get one.
As it stands legally, if Mr Johnson is unable to secure a deal by October 31st he will have to ask for an Article 50 extension according to the Benn Act, fought for by Remainers in Parliament to prevent this country crashing out of the EU without a deal.
There have been rumblings this week that Mr Johnson and his team have been working on various loopholes around this Act as the PM persists to trumpet that we are leaving Deal or No Deal, come what may, blah de blah blah, because let's not forget he's Poundshop Trump.
And crucially to this, as we choose never to forget - biroed as it is into our diaries - Mr Johnson said he would rather "die in a ditch" than ask the EU for an extension and This Reporter has to ask, just how legally binding that particular piece of oracular nonsense was, on the off chance Mr Johnson's cronies are not able to screw the legal system - sorry, find a perfectly legal loophole out of their legal obligations.
Onto pole dancing and the question of whether Mr Johnson has ever done it, as the Daily Mirror bumped into Mr Johnson's alleged paramour in a Los Angeles supermarket car park at the tail end of last week, further fuelling speculation that businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri and Mr Johnson had been in a relationship.
Despite Miss Arcuri's insistence, as she clutched a bumper-sized almond milk carton, that the reason Mr Johnson had come around to her flat in East London on a number of occasions was because he was seeking tech advice, and not to try out the pole installed there, there have been no unequivocal renunciations from either party that, in the words of Miss Arcuri, she hadn't been "banging the dude".
As we have been warned by many a more serious commentator, this is not about possible "banging" but rather if Mr Johnson favoured Miss Arcuri to the tune of thousands of pounds plumbed into her then fledgling business during his time as London Mayor. More seriously still, Mr Johnson has thus far failed to attend a committee hearing to be formally probed about this rather dubious, financial, relationship and if he continues to ignore this summons he would end up facing legal prosecution and potentially jail, which This Reporter suggests we also pen into our calenders as the fall back plan for "ditch".
Rory Stewart meanwhile, former Tory leadership candidate alongside Mr Johnson, has announced that he will be running for London Mayor next year. But rather than any serious consideration of what his policies would be or whether he is actually stalking Mr Johnson's life, the crucial question put to him by a journalist this week was what was Mr Stewart's favourite London pub?
To which he responded he was not much of a pub person but actually favoured Pret a Manger. This Reporter says, "fair deals", however queries whether he missed a trick there, and should have perhaps named Pizza Express as his preferred hangout. Or better still, the pick 'n' mix counter at Woolworths.

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