Questionable Time #143


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Good morrow lemmings and let us continue our weekly trudge through the fetid wastes of what is known as summer Question Time. What with the election hype and fallout, this has been a right marathon season and I for one am crying quietly in a corner. Still, only two more shows to go! Is it silly season yet? Don’t worry – ’round these parts, it’s always silly season.

Mr Manga-orium’s Wonder Emporium

Our first sick burn of the evening hisses into being: how can the Tories justify calling themselves the ‘real party of werkin’ people’ when they’re set to stamp on tax credits? Andy Burnham is called to the stand first, and is on prime indignant form. As predicted, he’s now the frontrunner in the Labour leadership contest – however, if he wins it would be a real loss for Question Time (which is the truly important issue at hand), as I’ve always held a soft spot for Andy’s performances here or in the Shadow Health brief. He is a man fuelled by pure wibbledom – by which I mean, he does seem 100% committed to being outraged at anything the Tories do. He is possibly one of the most outraged people in politics today. When he smiles it looks like he’s holding back his tears. His big, doelike eyes sparkle with righteous rage. His Scouse accent trembles and wavers and he looks like he’s always just about to deck Jeremy Hunt. He is, on all other occasions, an over-emotional manga character come to life.

But not so much today. Today we are introduced to ‘srs bsnss’ leadership material Andy. He is staid. He is solemn. He is a lot more boring. He sombrely states that the Tories don’t have a man date – I mean, a mandate. They’re “frightening” people because of this lack of man date. They ought to get a man date, before it becomes too late. (Hey, I’m a poet and I didn’t know it!)

Meanwhile Amber Rudd, a generally unknown entity (but then again, David Cameron is probably an unknown entity to the majority of the public five years in to his premiership), scribbles down her notes furiously like an angry exam invigilator. She then makes her own pitch, and appears to be the sternest woman I have ever come across, like a less charismatic Theresa May. We’re making work pay, she says, tunelessly. A lady in the crowd who’s never “had a day off in [her] life” is enraged at this droning! Then again, that’s a bit extreme. You mean you’ve never pulled a sickie? Never? Not even a little cheeky one on a Friday?

Suzanne Evans wastes no time going ‘tf’ in, accusing Amber and the blue team of not being “transparent”. You know what’s not transparent? Whatever the hell is going on with UKIP right now. First you’re fired! Then you’re not fired! There’s a power struggle, then there isn’t! It’s the story that’s gripped the world. However, this never gets brought up once during this episode, so Suzanne comes out of the whole shebang rather well, including shoehorning in an appeal to abolish the bedroom tax. Boy, Nigel must be fumin’!

Fraser Nelson of the Speccie says that the tax credit system needs “urgent reform” and it’s overall confusing and silly. Andy glares at him sassily. Then an even sassier presence arrives on the scene. Giles Fraser (yes, it’s Fraser 2! There’s a sitcom in this, shurely?) intervenes to demolish everyone and everything and talks up tax credit as if it were an adorable kitten. Giles 4 Labour Leader?

Then Amber suggests that we all wait for Ozza to clear this mess up ;) ;) ;) ;). Anime Andy is offended again, and she calls him SAH GRAPES. In return, he tells her she’s a dirty Tory liar who needs to get in the sea. Pru, it’s kicking off! Thank goodness it’s time for a change of question…

You can leave your tie on

What would you do about Greece? Sadly, Yanis Varoufakis was not available for this edition, due to the small distraction of being whacked in the head with a baseball bat by Angela Merkel. Giles is here in his stead, and, as Dimbleby rightly points out, is also not wearing a tie! You’re still “glamourous”, says Dimbles. I’m liking this new direction for Question Time. How to Look Good Nerked.

Giles continues his excellent impression of cool tieless Yanis by calling the Troika utter bastards. The other Fraser says that Greece needs its own currency, then we could all go there on holiday! Glad to see that we haven’t lost sight of the real issue here, the need to stuff our faces with kleftiko. Then Giles and, oddly, Suzanne extol the virtues of Tony Benn. I’m not sure how the Big Bennster would react to this, but it does give me an excuse to post this clip again of him nearly causing Roy Jenkins to explode.

Andy, in contrast, has got a tuff job sticking up for a Yes vote. It’s not a “failed experiment”, he says, but he’s suspicious of a right-wing economic plot. The spirit of Benn continues to smile down upon us, puffing his pipe benignly. Then the crowd go absolutely bananas, one man laying the blame at the feet of “one woman”. Gasp…Nicola Sturgeon?! Sadly, no. Fraser sums up by saying that you can’t turn Greeks into Germans. Not even if you force them into Lederhosen.

I’m not even going to mention the audience lady who goes off on one, blubbering that we must be a beacon of light and love and Christian values (take that, Muslims!) and we should bake a cake full of rainbows and smiles and we could all eat it and be happy. I’m not going to mention that. Except I just have. Oops.

Next: WHAT DO ABOUT MIGRANTZ?

The scenes at Calais are “heartbreaking” says Suzanne, with her own attempt at a wibbly voice, but we have to show “tough love” as well. She’s like a mildly disapproving school nurse. A girl in the crowd who looks like Nicola Sturgeon’s Mini-Me pleads for the panel not to target refugees with their laser eyes, and another wayward youth gets into an shouting match about mosquito nets with Ambuh. Please, Lord, let the summer break come soon.

Giles welcomes the new immigrants with open arms, and to be fair I’d rather take Giles as a revolutionary leader over Russell Brand. Put him up against Farage next, maybe? Meanwhile, Andy just about gets away with appealing to the unwashed masses who don’t know their forrin pollysee by jam-packing his speech with super smart (S-M-R-T!) sounding words. ‘Mechanism’…’Schengen Agreement’…’Gateway Agreement’…he’s on a roll here, folks! And that roll isn’t about to stop rolling any time soon. And(y)omination continues as we hit two novelty questions in a row – looks like it really is silly season.

Sugar, oh honey honey

First novelty question: something about…sugar tax? Giles campaigns for fat rights, Andy gets into a debate about what “children’s food” is with Dimbledore, who doesn’t believe it exists (excuse you Dimbleby, you’ll never take my dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets away from me), and apparently Fraser Nelson once called Mangaman the FROSTIES KILLER. This is incredible. That should be his tagline. AB4LEADER: heart of frickin’ murdering Tony the Tiger to death. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, and here I am: stuck in the middle with food.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Second novelty question: is the last Labour manifesto the best they’ve ever had in their history ever or was it the worst they’ve ever had in their history ever? According to Alan Milburn, who is tragically still pretending he’s relevant in the year of our lord 2015, it was the latter. Fraser, Suzanne and Amber proceed to concern-troll like it’s nobody’s business, Fraser from Cheers especially. Andy Burnham grins widely, but you can so clearly see that deep inside his heart he knows that he’s going to go home that night and murder Milburn to death. First Tony, now Alan, Andy? When will the killing end?!

Finally, Giles shrugs and reveals himself a member of the Milifandom. And with that, we’re blessed with sweet relief.

Time for the scores!

Rudd: 6/10

(Failed to) Wow

Burnham: 8/10

(Nice eye)Brows

Evans: 7/10

(Not a fan of) Frau (Merkel)

Nelson: 7/10

Plow(ed ahead)

Fraser: 8/10

(His little red book will replace) Mao’s

The Crowd: 7/10

And how!

Next time: I begin to hallucinate. Also, did you know that our glorious webmaster – and previous QT-er supreme – has set up a cool new YouTube channel for his project Noobminster? Well, you do now. Go visit it and get educated on all matters political, in a thoroughly amusing fashion. Go on. Click the link. Click it, damnit!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #142


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Good morrow lemmings – we’re currently taking all bets on how crap Melanie Phillips is in this edition. Let’s find out, as we dive right into…Questionable Time: in Scientifivision™!

Let’s get ready to r…easonably debate!

Our first question, and it’s a belter: is it right to blame the security services for not stopping them there three sisters and their families from travelling to Syria or ‘owt? At least some bright spark on the production team has decided to allocate the serious questions first this time, instead of leaving five minutes to spare at the end for such matters. Good! Well done, Question Time! You get a freshly-baked cookie.

As a result of the trade-off for sensible debate (as opposed to the usual pointless squawking), things do get a lot more dour and less…well…squawky. David Davis, libertarian Tory extraordinaire and rival of Paddy Ashdown for the title of Squinty-Eyed Champion of the World (does he also have a hat to stuff in his gob?) says that it is right to ask how this tragedy happened but not to slap the blame on anyone willy-nilly. Meanwhile, Alex Salmond is equally sensible, his broad Scottish tones curiously hushed as he asks what the appeal is for vulnerable women to go abroad into a warzone with their children and fight for hatred. Melanie Phillips actually agrees, which is promising, urging the need for a better counter-radicalisation strategy and that the ‘danger’ is part of the appeal for impressionable youth.

Caroline Flint, current Queen of Question Time (appeared the most during the 2010-2015 period – will she retain her crown until 2020?) and Labour deputy leadership contender, says that we don’t hear enough about accounts of the atrocities coming from people who want to get back, and how the situations of adults and children going is markedly different. Other Guy AKA Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, pleads that people in MI5 are not appreciated enough! Stop being mean to them! Melanie goes full student politics by declaring that we purely see the world through a Western, colonialist lens, and Salmond says the Western world is not immune from religious fanaticism – such as that for the SNP! Ayy! …Ah, just kiddin’ youse guys.

Overall, very mature, very sensibly-debated, and even the applause was sombre. Good job everyone.

It’s not to last.

More like Snoreway

Next up: bloodsports time! Would it really be so bad to find ourselves out of Europe, the next question-askerer says…as we are “Great Britain”, after all! Woah, never thought of that one before.

Lionel launches a sick burn in his whispery monotone – we may be Great Britain, but we’re not “Little England”. Then he goes on and on about m-muh roaming charges. M-muh sovreignty, says Melanie in response. Apparently, we put more in than we take out, and shake it all about.

Alex Salmond is then pressed on his solidarity with the people of Norway. This show gets weirder by the minute. No, says Big Al, any relation between this oil-rich solitary nation and a certain other landmass is purely coincidental. Anyway, he goes on, both England and Scotland are members of Europe, and he hopes that he can join forces with other sympathetic parties in Europe to rid his country of the Labour scourge once and for all. Well, that was the gist of what he was saying, at least. Caroline Flint tuts and shakes her head. Oh Alex, you card!

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

David Davis declares that the nasty bullying of Greece due to its falling on its face and getting poked by long pointy German sticks represents a “failure of democracy”…sounding pretty Bennite there, double D! Caroline, on the other hand, goes all-in for a Yes vote (while encouraging m-muh reform) and states that the EU is a great trading partner. Melanie brushes this off and pretty much gives the entire country of America the middle finger while doing so. Oh Melanie, you card!

“Let’s leave the EU for the moment”, says Dimbleby, and everyone laughs. Indeed, why not put a ‘lol’ option on the ballot paper? I’m sure it’d attract a surprising amount of support.

Girls don’t cry

Nexty-wexty: should Tim ‘women are crybabies’ Hunt have fricked off? Melanie, while acknowledging Hunt as “bonkers”, claims that he is a great eccentric and that his magisterial free thinking on the role of women in STEM fields should be encouraged! He’s a trailblazer! Free expression! Love and peace, man!

Caroline pointedly points out that some women might be a little miffed that this behaviour from an already highly regarded and wealthy man should be protected, but then the women in the audience have their say. Their opinions vary due to BBC guidelines but seem reasonable enough either way. Most people seem to agree that while what Hunt said was terrible and should be widely mocked, sacking him was more iffy territory. Then again, apparently he didn’t mean it as a joke and didn’t apologise, so…shruggie. Thank goodness we have Alex Salmond to steer us on the right course, by means of…wibbly-wobblying somewhere in the middle of the argument, something he does very rarely.

Also, David Davis misquotes Voltaire, and damns the ‘Twitter mob’ that has struck terror into his heart. Even though he doesn’t have a Twitter. Okay, D-Dubs.

We wrap up with another well-answered question (damnit, Question Time, you need to be viler!): do we have a responsibility to help immigrants fleeing from Africa? Salmond says 65% are refugees and we have to help them as the government in the 1970s helped refugees fleeing Idi Amin. Also we screwed up most of their countries so, y’know…what goes around comes around!

Lionel and Caroline argue the need for a “moral obligation” to help those in danger of drowning – Melanie argues that while economic migrants should be scrutinised, what we really need to do is hit the PANIC BUTTON on the whole Middle East in general. David Davis shrugs his shoulders and wonders how life would be different if he was Tory Prime Minister right now.

Final, rhetorical question: what are the chances of some chubby guy living to see the conclusion of the Chilcot Inquiry?

The world may never know.

Time for the scores!

Salmond: 7/10

Nor(way, twinned with Scotland)

Davis: 7/10

(Showing mean old Twitterers the) Door

Flint: 7/10

(Didn’t quite) Score

Barber: 5/10

Snore

Phillips: 5/10

Pour(ed a slight amount of fuel on the fire)

The Crowd: 6/10

War (what is it good for)

Next time: the return of Mangaman.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #141


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Good morrow lemmings and welcome to a sweltering, summery Questionable Time! We’re predicting light rain showers and intense humidity caused by sudden extreme emissions of hot air. Remember to stay hydrated, and watch out for shifting and sweating in your seats!

Fractional reserve wbanking

As the evening June light bursts into the studio through great glass windows, the entire audience is blinded and unfortunately unable to sit through the rest of the show. Oh well, guess we’ll all have to go home. Bye.

…Or perhaps not. Question one, then: is the Chancellor right to sell off RBS shares at a loss to the taxpayer? Ooh, burn. Sick burn. Ice burn. We’re off to a no-nonsense start, you’d think, but then Chris Bryant, supreme Gingerbonce and chief trollererererer of John Bercow in the House of Commons, as well as a renowned purveyor of entertaining nonsense himself, steps up to the plate. He’s seen a challenge and he’s rising to it in his own special way. He leaps upon this question like an angry weasel, which he also resembles. The Chancellor, he says, should go back to his original position and prepare for government! We have a deficit to be dealing with, remember? Although it looks like, in the aftermath of May 7th, we’ve all temporarily forgotten about that/ceased to care. Hooray!

Matthew Hancock, the blue team representative, obviously disagrees. He has a weird round forehead that doesn’t fit on his chin. Remember Northern Rock, he weedles? Eh? Eight years ago? Under the previous government? The one before the coalition, that is, so not technically the previous government, but whatever? Anyway, this is all for the greater good and will mean that RBS performs better, says he. What about Royal Mail, dude, Chris squeaks, outraged.

Douglas Carswell gets off to a flying start with a withering comeback about ‘fractional reserve banking’. Riveting. I understood less that 7% of what he said. Even Dimbleby needed help with it, and he’s been running this shebang for years. Christina Odone puts it more simply: we need lots of little banks running around like chihuahuas, instead of a few big ones like scary rottweilers. However, much like the dogs themselves, will they merely do the same amount of shit? The Gateshead audience seems to think so, so it’s up to new SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh to play to the crowd. She says it’s a bad time, what with the continuing austerity – also, Gordon Brown sucks, she mentions off-hand. Just throwin’ that out there.

Witness me!

Next up, should 16 and 17-year olds be able to vote in the #euref? (Is that the official hashtag now? See, I’m down with the kids too!)

Douglas says this is all very exciting, and the product of his life’s work (or his work ever since he defected to UKIP), but you know who can’t join in on the excitement? 16-year-olds. You suddenly become fully knowledgeable about politics at age 18 and that’s that. Also, you may be less likely to vote to stay in the EU the older and the more scared of the dirty forrins you get. So, y’know, swings and roundabouts.

Christina is in favour of this proposal, however, because the youngins “see the light”! They are the “agents of change” foretold in the prophecy! Matthias Handycock rebuffs her with a blunt ‘no lol’. Meanwhile, Tamsina says to look at the #indyref, and the huge participation of young, idealistic SNPers, and understand that angry young people can be easily moulded and twisted into an army of fanatics eager to lay down their lives for a cause, much like those albino pricks in Mad Max: Fury Road (out now in all good cinemas!). She also takes aim at Chris, alleging Labour voted against an SNP clause to give the yungins the vote. Chris says this was conveniently attached to an amendment that would block the referendum completely. She denies this charge, with a snippy “I think I know what I tabled”. “Nah,” replies Chris, even snipplier. Majestic debate!

Isn’t this debate great? Matty Handball raves, watching gleefully as Tamsina and Chris snip-snipe at each other. Finally, Bryant signs us off with an ultimatum: the age of consent is 16, and yet voting is out of bounds for these youngsters. You can legally be a parent, but you can also “FLY A GLIDER”, he proclaims, which is, quite obviously, far more important.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Up next, a somewhat related topic: Is DCam using dirty tactics to get his way in the EU referendum? Dougy C beams with pride, imagining himself to be a much less photogenic (or, like, paintogenic) Joan of Arc about to be martyred. At the same time, Chris admits that “I don’t like David Cameron very much”. The majestic debate continues! Christina claims that Cammers is slowly turning into John Major, scared of Eurosceptic ‘bastards’. Indeed, the ‘bastards’ have now gone mainstream. Matt Hackysack has a good reason for not being afraid of them, though – if we leave the EU/encourage UKIP, businessmen would feel too sad to come to the UK! Instead, just wait for DCam to come back from his negotiation. Then all will be well.

What about the EU nationals being excluded from voting, says Tamsina, her outraged tone growing ever more outraged. This never gets a satisfactory answer as we already have to move on. Don’t worry, Dimbleby assures us, we’ll return to this…”week after week”, according to him.

Oh Lord, save us.

Pants for the memories

Next, some quickfire questions. ‘Northern Powerhouse': yay or nay?

For once, Chris ‘n’ Tamsina agree on something (side note, I keep misspelling her name as Tasmina, as if she comes from Tasmania, one would imagine). The North-East has been shortchanged! Luckily for Tazza, she’s in Scotland so she doesn’t have to worry about that shit. Matt Hanky-Panky repeats the the words ‘Northern Powerhouse’ approximately twenty more times until my ears start to bleed. Douglas, however, advises us to “follow the money” – putting on his shifty shades and looking smug. The North is saved.

Second: why are we becoming a surveillance state just like 1984 OMG!!!! #makesuthink. Possibly because y’all elected only eight Lib Dem MPs? That’s…you know, kind of their thing (maybe their only thing). The main parties on the panel squabble just as you’d expect them to, with a little addition of ~Ron Paul Revolution~ Libertarianism from Douglas, until Chris elects to remind us all of that whole phonehacking dealio that happened a while back, and how he felt so heavily violated by its intrusion into his life. Unfortunately, this just dredges up the memory of that infamous photo of him in his pants and nothing else into our expectant brainholes. I don’t want to post it, though…that would be an invasion of privacy, after all.

Finally, the traditional heavy-as-hell question in the last woefully inadequate few minutes. How do we stop ISIS fascism?

Christina says that young people aren’t being convinced by our own down-with-the-kids narrative. Well, do they have pizza in the so-called ‘Islamic State’? I seriously doubt it. #makesuthink. “A liberal democratic way of life is the best way of life possible,” says Douglas Carswell, summing things up. Well, yes, except possibly if you’re a Liberal Democrat. Tamsina says something about the Angel Gabriel, messenger of God (you mean Nicola Sturgeon?). Matt In The Hat urges us to show disaffected youths a ‘better way’, through the medium of his Cameron-alike forehead. And lastly, Chris splurts out some mouthwords as well. Although I wasn’t paying attention, because I was still too terrified by the memory of his pants to write anything down about it.

Time for the scores!

Hancock: 5/10

(Brows were) Knit(ted)

Bryant: 6/10

Pit(bull on the panel)

Ahmed-Sheikh: 6/10

Wit(ness her!)

Carswell: 6/10

(Comfortably sat…uh, I mean) Sit

Odone: 6/10

(Does not want to) Omit (youngsters from the referendum)

The Crowd: 6/10

(True) Grit

Next time: High Wycombe! My nan used to live there. Er…not much else to say about it, to be honest.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #140


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Good morrow lemmings and welcome to another supercalifragilisticexpialidocious edition of Questionable Time! It’s such a lovely sunny day outside, and yet you’re reading this. Good choice, sport!

IPSA me, Mario

We begin by duly noting the four women/one man ratio of this Thursday’s panel, which is definite cause for a warm-hearted cheer at how far society has come (or teary sniff, or excessive blowing of your nose). Unless you notice the actual issues discussed, that is – immigration, Europe, petty Labour bickering – which are, of course, as old as time itself.

Our first question is one of great, fist-shaking import: is an MPs’ pay rise justified considering George Osborne even now cackling and waving about a giant pair of comedy scissors in the general direction of the public sector? Up-and coming young turk Justine Greening says…nah. Forget if it’s ‘justified’ or not, the public hate this proposal so damn much that anyone even attempting to take the rise will get hung, drawn, and quartered by order of the Queen. Why don’t you vote it down then, says Dimbleby. Because we need to…’deal with’…IPSA, Justine replies menacingly. She came into politics not for the pay – but for the free wine and nibbles at events! Don’t you just love those little sausage thingies?

Mary CREAGHEYYEYAAEYAAAEYAEYAA steps up to the plate (sadly a plate with no sausages on it). She’s running for the Labour leadership, obviously, not that you’d know because she has about, ooh, four nominations? And they each need 35 to get on the ballot paper. Poor Mary. I met her once, and she offered me some of her chocolate brownie. So I can’t totally slate her. Last time she was on QT, she accused Russell Brand of sexism, so let’s see if she can pull it out of the bag now…she goes on to state that if the government can reject the independent pay review board for nurses then it can reject this! She gets some applause, but it’s almost like shooting fish in a barrel.

Meanwhile, Susie ‘Fleet Street Fox’ Boniface is rambling on about headmasters and nurses – you know, the ‘people that people like’, according to Spitting Image. Norman Lamb does similarly, fightin’ for the rights of the werkers – like his competitor Tim Farron, he’s also angling for the leadership of the Lib Dems. Yes, that’s right – that now-statuesque role. Honestly, what is QT going to do with the Lib Dems now – cycle through their remaining eight MPs for a season and then give up? Oh dear. I suppose there’s always Shirley Williams, eh?

At the same time, Jill Kirby, Theresa May’s twin, is protesting why the pay rise powers were farmed out to IPSA in the first place. Interesting that a Thatcherite policy wonk wants to centralise power and not take it elsewhere, huh? Norman is appalled and shouts softly (ever so softly…like a little white-haired, bespectacled mouse) about how no other workplace lets its workers decide their own pay increases. Except if you’re a banker awarding yourself a nice bonus, that is. Trebles all round!

Looking like a true survivor feeling like a little quid (as opposed to a NASTY EURO)

Next up: Europe, and what sort of renegotiation would you like to see Dave bravely wring out of Juncker ‘n’ co at the top table. Jill is at least blankly honest and admits that she wouldn’t be satisfied with any deal. If anything, those Europoors should be begging to do deals with us! They should be grovelling at our feet, she outright implies, and not trifling with failures like Greece. They’re not allowed at our cool pool party any more. “We should be standing alone,” she declares, and the siren song of Elton John bursts into my head.

B-but they’ve given us cheaper roaming charges! says Susie ‘Fleet Foxes’ Boniface, helpfully forgetting everything else Europe has ever done at the worst possible moment. Way to go, Suse!

Then some people in the audience get into a fight about Romanians, or whatever. A Romanian doctor protests scapegoating, causing another man to blurt out that he has…wait for it…a Romanian friend. People around him chuckle merrily like medieval bards. “Why are you laughing?” he splutters. Oh Question Time, what a tangled web you weave!

As the panellists bicker over immigration/the free movement of labour/inspecting the specks of dust on the table, another brave soul from the crowd pipes up to remind us all of the original question. It was about what changes you’d like to see before the referendum, remember? Well, oops, no time for that now! We spent all our time on pointless mumbling, and there’s already another question incoming…

North Korea hacked my Neopets account

Will further cuts to the defence budget leave David Dimbleby a hollow shell of a man, faced with the prospect of repeating these same few questions over and over for the remainder of all time in the universe? On the plus side: more usage of the word ‘helicarrier’, which you have to admit just sounds cool.

We have no way of knowing what kind of wars will happen in the future, so they are by definition cutting in the dark, says Susie, surprisingly sensibly. Norman knows, however. “Cyber terrorism!” he blurts out (slightly more loudly), obviously just remembering that his password is ‘12345’ and that North Korean hackers are going to take over his email account.

Mary and Justine begin to bicker about exactly how many dollarydoos have been/should be put into the defence budget. They’re both in favour of further spending on the front line, but it’s hard to know who wins this bout – only that I’ve just noticed that Justine Greening looks like a garden gnome. You could definitely imagine her sitting with a tiny fishing rod next to a pond. Am I the only one who sees this? Look at this comparison shot – coincidence? I think not:

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Next, a more sombre question. What legacy will Charles Kennedy leave British politics?

Well, for one, he was a perennial Question (and Questionable) Time favourite, as David Dimbleby rightfully points out. The Question Time website has put up a small compilation of some of his 42 (!) appearances, which you can view here.

The other panellists agree – Mary says he had “poetry” in his language (something I imagine a lot of people want more of from the Labour leadership battle). Susie says we mustn’t let any more potential be wasted by the tragic illness that is alcoholism. Jill notes that most people think he was right about standing against the Iraq invasion, arguably his finest hour. Norman, who gave an emotional tribute in Parliament, was his PPS for a time – and concludes that he’ll be missed greatly as someone who could be honest and sincere in any sort of debate.

Unfortunately, we don’t end on this genuinely moving note. Back to mud-flinging, everyone! With our last question: what is the point of the Labour Party now?

Justine gets a chance to gleefully gloat, although her expression doesn’t evolve further than ‘scary scowl’. Mary, in an attempt to scramble together a few more nominations, bombastically expresses her belief that WE WORK TOGETHER, WE DIE TOGETHER. And redistribute some power and wealth in a mild social-democratic format. Hell yes, she’s tough enough!

Jill and Norman shake their heads – Jill making a none-to-subtle jibe about a certain extravagantly-belashed contender and Norman disagreeing with the union link. Well Norms, it’s a good job you joined the Liberal Democrats and not the Labour Party, then, eh?

Finally, an old man hijacks the show and praises his true messiah Clement Attlee. Mary gives a thumbs up (she named her son Clement, after all). Justine continues to scowl. Better wrap up before she gets any scowlier.

Time for the scores!

Greening: 7/10

(Looks like a garden) Gnome

Creagh: 7/10

(Far from) Home (and dry re: nominations)

Lamb: 6/10

(Has hair the colour of) Foam (and I realise now I may be stretching these rhymes a bit)

Boniface: 5/10

(The EU gives you lower) Roam(ing charges! Wa…hey?)

Kirby: 5/10

(Reading blankly from the Thatcherite) tome

The Crowd: 8/10

(When in) Rome

Next time: the one before they go to High Wycombe!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #139


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Good morrow lemmings and I don’t really have an excuse for the extreme lateness of this edition, other than being at my wizened old Nan’s all day and forced to eat many a water biscuit. Without further ado, let’s kick off. Soccer!

Clapping at my chamber door, only this and nothing more

We’re coming from Aberdeen, in, as Dimbleby puts it, “a country now dominated by the SNP” and also sweet jazz-funk grooves, allegedly. To that end, our first question is likewise about the yellow-‘n’-blacks (if I knew more about football I could make a joke about these team colours): apart from “musical chairs and clapping”, what do the SNP plan to achieve at Westminster?

John Nicolson, a new SNP MP (love the subtle rhyming going on there that sadly not enough people have translated into rap format), swells with pride. He launches into a speech about how the SNP are breaking boundaries by sitting wherever the hell they like in the chamber, clapping, and taking many a selfie, and that what are ye wee English ponces gonnae dew aboot it? Actually, that’s unfair – he does state that the SNP have been given a mandate to campaign for the issues that the people of Scotland have bombastically brought to public attention. Such as wanting control/wanting One Direction’s ‘No Control’ as a single. He also insinuates he spends his dinner parties clapping every time the food is brought in, which everybody finds a little weird.

Meanwhile, Ruth Davidson, leader of that most impressive of professions, Scottish Conservative Leader, is in a sombre mood. During the election campaign, perhaps knowing that her party didn’t have a hope in hell of getting any more than the one MP it ended up with north of the border, decided to have fun and just be herself for the duration. She fed Soleros to journalists. She posted pictures of herself singing in her car. She didn’t give a single, glorious shit. It was quite admirable, in a way.

Sadly, none of that devil-may-care attitude is on show tonight. Instead we have Serious Ruth, the stately politician, one of the last Bluecoats standing in the Wildlands. She launches into her pre-rehearsed spiel: while the SNP and Labour were being silly-billies with seating plans she’s doing the hard work in the less glamourous, more ugly Scottish Parliament. A tough beat for a tough cop.

Lord Charlie ‘Chazza’ Falconer speaks up. He looks at the flaming wreckage of the Scottish Labour Party and sighs. The Tories did this, he says, because of their superior dosh and their posters of Alex Salmond’s Shrek-like face leering down at you and/or Ed Miliband in a suggestive manner. But you know who helped them to triumph? Those wasp-coloured wankers over there.

John Nicolson looks horrified. A soft and judgey ‘ooh’ing emanates from the crowd. They didn’t like that at all. In fairness, those posters were really terrifying, weren’t they?

John, Ruth and now Alex Massie, Scotland Editor at the Spectator (what a job!), object. Alex points out the maths, saying that even if Labour won every seat in Scotland they still would have lost. He’s dressed up like an ancient country lord, however, which probably isn’t the best way to win round the crowd in these parts. Then he goes on about how the SNP would do anything or sacrifice anything as long as it advanced their main goal of independence.

Lesley Riddoch says that, whether they’re working for independence or not, the SNP can’t win either way. Except in elections, that is. Poor SNP. She then goes on to recite one of her own columns at length.

A lady from the crowd points out the baffling fact that the House of Commons simply can’t fit all of its MPs inside the debating chamber. Isn’t this a bit counterproductive? On the plus side, John says, I do have a sword hook. You know. To hang your sword up.

The SNP should accept that they lost and get on with it, screams a man in the crowd, like God from Monty Python. You sir, sound like a Unionist to me, John implies (or rather outright states). The man explodes and yells that he just said that he voted Yes in the referendum. This exciting back-and-forth goes on for about ten hours thus somewhat undermining the point of ‘getting on with it’.

Can Scottish Labour and the Scottish Liberal Democrats stop sucking so hard so there’s more of a debate, says another audience lady. Meanwhile, Lesley is going full throttle. She attacks certain people who say that SNP/pro-independence voters are ‘greedy’, when in reality the ones being greedy are those mean old Tories…greedy for Soleros, that is!

…I’m sorry, Solero jokes are probably passé by now. I’ll quietly give this well-loved meme a fitting send-off.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Next week we’re going to be in Plymouth, Dimbleby interjects, and, to show you just how far we are into penetrating the fetid wastes of hell, this triggers raucous laughter in the studio. Plymouth! Oh that Dimbleby, such a card!

Football’s coming home (to die in a ditch)

Should we all stick two fingers up to the Fifa World Cup? What, you mean the fact of zillions of Qataris dying wasn’t enough to raise a few eyebrows? I don’t know anything about football, so haven’t really been following this story – merely enjoying a distant chuckle at seeing a cluster of rich ugly white dudes get their arses kicked. Always a pleasure.

Alex Massie makes a sweet burn by saying that Scotland has been leading the way in boycotting the World Cup for many years now. Such Wildeian wit! Lesley is still outraged, and cries that this ‘beautiful game’ has been sullied! Sullied forever! Forever! Truly, she has no chill. At least all the dead Qatari slave labourers have finally been mentioned. In addition, John, Charlie and Ruth finally agree on something: Sepp Blatter sucks and won’t get away with this! He’s just been re-elected as Fifa president, by the way. Question Time: always predicting the future.

I leaked a leak in time gone by

After that brief interlude, it’s time for another dose of Scotlapalooza! Round one: if Scotland votes to stay in the EU, but the rest of the UK votes to leave…will all hell break loose?

Alex, positive as always, shrugs that the people mumbling and grumbling such things are gunning for #indyref2. Nah, says John, the ‘No’ campaign said we’d be stronger together, so it’s not fair. P.S., let the 16-year-olds vote. They can Photoshop flower crowns on pictures of Angela Merkel or whatever it is they do.

Ruth squawks out reform, reform, reform multiple times like a parrot on amphetamines. The others join her and soon it’s a cacophony of voices spluttering out platitudes but no concrete plans. Lesley almost rips her shirt off as she bellows her love for Scotland, which continues on into…

Round two: should Alistair Carmichael resign? Lord Falconer is being very careful about this one. The last thing he needs or wants is another SNP MP taking AlCar’s place in the House. Although, I guess it would be kind of funny that if, after all this, he resigns and they just elect another Lib Dem in his stead. The yellow team (the original one, not the yellow-and-black one with the kilts) needs to fill up all the seats in its minibus, after all!

“It is impossible right now to know how the people of Orkney and Shetland feel!” Lesley cries. You’re telling me, mate. I don’t even know if they have Wi-Fi up there.

Should every MP who’s lied resign? Then we’d end up with a pretty empty House, hahahaha! Hahahahahahahaha! Original joke! No, we’re all nice really, says Ruth. While she decries any attempt at a “witch hunt”, honestly it looks like she doesn’t much care about the welfare of the Lib Dems, it’s not like her party is in coalition with them any more. Now the blue team can truly break out the hard liquor in the secret Downing Street stash. John, meanwhile, claims that it’s “a matter of honour” so we clearly need to cut off Alistair Carmichael’s head.

Last: should we have the right to die? A rather heavy subject for the last five minutes, one that all the panellists have but one response to: there needs to be, like, a truckful of safeguards for this shizzle. Maybe we could have a new referendum on it? asks another audience lady. Alex Massie visibly recoils.

Time for the scores!

Davidson: 6/10

(Not a) Lot (going on)

Falconer: 5/10

(Scottish Labour’s a) Dot (on the map)

Nicolson: 7/10

(Proud) Scot (and won’t hesitate to tell you at length)

Riddoch: 7/10

(Will) Slot (Her opinions absolutely everywhere)

Massie: 6/10

(Missed his) Shot

The Crowd: 8/10

Got (what they came for, maybe?)

Next time: PLYMOUTH!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #138


qt 138

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to another beauteous edition of Questionable Time! It’s sure to be exactly as exciting as the Labour leadership race, which is to say not at all. Most likely, anyway. Let’s get ready to bumble!

Owen Jones leaves One Direction – 100k retweets

Our panellists tonight include Not Michael Gove, a kawaii manga woman, a child on his first day of school, Edina from Ab Fab, and a ginger egg. Hilary Devey, in particular, is described as a ‘former Dragon’, which brings to mind images of her burninating the countryside, burninating the peasants, and burninating their thatched roof cottages. I mean, sure, whatever you like to do in your free time is cool, I guess. Meanwhile, Owen Jones has a natty new haircut and is looking sharp ‘n’ serious. They may call him Babyface, but get on his bad side and he’ll kneecap you at twenty paces.

Our first question: “is it realistic to reduce net migration by under 100,000?” – it remains to be seen if this is just a random figure plucked from the air, or an actual target, written on an Excel spreadsheet, which gives all things gravitas. Nicky Morgan, Gove’s underwhelming replacement who looks constantly startled to still even be in her job, thinks it’s a great plan, and very fair and fairful in a fair fairness-y way.

Tim Farron – upon hearing his name, one can only think of that Malcolm Tucker rant about what kind of men are actually named Tim in this day and age – gets a big ol’ clap for saying immigration is more of a blessing than a curse. A rare event on Question Time! The Lib Dems, cut down in their prime like a cheeky hedgerow, are more than a little peeved that Davey C is updating his ‘mess we inherited’ line to target his former coalition partners. Vince Cable, the former Business Secretary, is notably in the line of fire for blocking tougher immigration rhetoric. It’s incredibly obvious that Ginger Egg is gunning for the lefty vote in his leadership contest: the leadership of his eight MPs, including himself. Meanwhile, the SNP roar in agony that none of their bazillion MPs got picked to go on t’ telly. If they find the one that looks most like an egg, it might raise their chances!

Nicky disagrees that there was any sneaky demonisation going on, carefully ignoring the long shadow of those ‘go home’ vans that drove around a couple of years ago, looking ugly and not even featuring a novelty car horn. She goes on to say we need more control, reform, and most importantly: exit checks.

At this point, Owen appears, here to make the most retweetable comments of the night. This fear campaign is not bringing down numbers, says he. It wasn’t hard-working migrant nurses who caused the crash. It was the bankers. The bloody bankers. Put that on a t-shirt: the bloody bankers, innit? I’d buy it.

Hilary, ex-dragon, with a voice like an old motor to match, doesn’t see the problem if immigrants help the economy, it’s just that the infrastructure isn’t there to accommodate them. Stella Creasy bursts in, and my head promptly explodes from how earnest she is. Her pleading tones, sparkly eyes and appeals to common decency have been well-documented here at Questionable Time – she’s like a My Little Pony character with a degree (and a love of indie music). The Prime Minister, she says, is a silly-billy because he pledged to make “illegal working a criminal offence”. Everybody laffs/larfs/laurghefs. Nicky looks horrified and hits back. Didn’t you know, Stella? We’ve got this one. We’ve got Sajid Javid on the job.

A very loud man in the crowd begins to hector the panel about the EU. Tim is grossly offended and says that going on and on about keeping out the EU-ers makes Britain look like a “nasty” place. And, by extension, that means you, audience man. You’re a nasty ass. That can be Tim’s campaign slogan, by the way.

Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living

Is a 7-day NHS really viable? Hilary wants to know where the money is coming from. As she croaks out her concerns, Nicky merely looks at this strange person, with her sparkly epaulettes, in utter confusion and shock. She says that it can’t be right that if you go to the doctor’s on Sunday you’ll drop dead in the waiting room. Saw it happen just last Tuesday. Tragic.

Stella agrees with the need for more MONAY but criticises the Tories for breaking everything up and selling it off so people are left running helplessly around trying to find a doctor like in a Scooby Doo chase scene. Owen Jones then goes on about the top-down reorganisation of the NHS, and the crowd loves this – goodness, this is quite a left-wing audience, isn’t it? Last week was Uxbridge, though, so it balances out.

Nicky is, frankly, hurt that you’re all doubting this cool pledge. This is just anti-Tory bias. Toryism. And she, for one, won’t stand for it.

Eggman, on the other hand, says that there is one way to solve this problem: a TARDIS. The Lib Dems have now gone so far over the edge that time travel has become one of their new policy pledges. Why not? It’s not like they have anything else left to lose.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Knowing me knowing EU

Next up: is the British economy strong enough to pull out of Europe?

Owen says that while he supports staying in the EU, Labour should have supported a referendum. Stella shrugs and argues her magnificent point: that we’ve got one now, so whatever lol. Hilary wants more education about the issue, and Nicky bites back by saying that we shouldn’t be frightened of what people think (especially when they’ve just thought they’d like to elect the Tories again).

Owen concludes by appealing to give UKIP voters hope. Perhaps he’s making his pitch for the Labour leadership? Which brings us on to our next topic (going through ’em quick today!): are trade unions the kiss of death for a leadership candidate?

Jonesy cracks his knuckles, ready for another Twitterstorm. He goes on about Keir Hardie, probably because he named his cat after him. The trade unions have done more with their little toe than most of the underwhelming SPADS that fill politics today, he says. Why is it that they are the ones demonised, when rich nasty dudes fund the rich nasty Tory Party? Take that, society!

Nicky says that she liked Jim Murphy (chief disser of Len McCluskey) very much, probably because he lost all those Labour seats in Scotland. Tim is in favour of collective bargaining but not the union link: good job he’s in the Lib Dems, then, and not the Labour Party! Stella praises the unions, tears practically glistening in her eyes, and Owen gets in a tiff with Hilary, who is shrugging at MAXIMUM SPEED and questioning why we even need trade unions in this day and age. We have Candy Crush Saga instead, which is, like, almost the same thing.

For some horrible reason, we still have a few minutes remaining. Therefore, we come to the most important question of the week, or perhaps even our entire age: IS THE GAY CAKE PROBLEMATIC?!

Everybody agrees that it was. Does that mean we could get an infinite money cheat out of it, says Dimbles, by forcing anti-gay cake bakers to repeatedly pay fines for eternity? The answer, Nicky says, is yes. w00t!

Stella, however, remains too earnest for he own good. What if someone did it to you?, she says, looking at Dimbleby with hope in her heart. In response, Dimbleby looks…shocked. More shocked than he’s ever been in his life – and chairing this programme, he’s seen some seriously shocking shit.

Stella valiantly continues. She keeps referencing his sexuality, which is something nobody needs to consider. NO HOMO, screams Dimbledore’s facial expression. Stella shoots a glare at people laughing. This is a serious issue! Just what exactly is so funny? Funny how? Funny like I’m a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to amuse you?! Huh?!

With that bombshell, I think it’s time to wrap up.

Time for the scores!

Morgan: 6/10

(Sitting stiffly in her) Seat

Creasy: 8/10

(Tooth-rottingly) Sweet

Farron: 7/10

(The Lib Dem to) Beat

Jones: 8/10

(Re)Tweet(ed)

Devey: 7/10

(Probably frightening to) Meet

The Crowd: 7/10

(In for a) Treat

Next time: maybe an SNP panellist? Incredible!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #137


qt 137

Good morrow lemmings, and welcome to the…UKIPocalypse? Or perhaps not, considering that Fightin’ Farage seems to hold on by the skin of his increasingly yellowing teeth every time. I must say, it’s rather admirable! Also on this show: Brian May. Because why not, right?

You’ve got to UKIP a pocket or two

Our first question is out of the gate and boy is it a doozy. “Is there a place in today’s politics for ‘snarling, thin-skinned and aggressive’ leaders?” – an obvious reference to Farage, who has dramatically unresigned in a daring twist of fate or perhaps existential crisis. I had one last week, and now Farage, faced with the prospect of not being everybody’s favourite pint-poser, scrabbles back to the leadership and the only thing he knows he’s good at. Naturally, opinion in UKIP is split – especially if you’re the ambitious sort looking to take up the cigar and pint glass yourself.

Lord Tristram McSnooty is first up to bat, sporting his outrageously hedge-like pile of hair and strange, bread loaf-like square face, and messes up in about five seconds. A new record! He ignores the question and goes on to his pre-prepared leadership pitch, although at the time of writing still hasn’t officially declared he’s standing. Dimbleby gently reminds him that he’s getting confused again. Meanwhile, Nigel Farage’s pointy-toed foot is twitching beneath the desk, ready to disembowel any who dares cross him.

Ol’ Nige throws his hands up, as if to say WHAT CAN YA DO. Not like I can help it, guv’na, just an ‘umble servant like m’self, ooh no. Dimbles asks him about possibly having a leadership election – would it “clear the air”? Nigel pooh-poohs the idea. Frankly, he franklies, it would increase the amount of hot air being dispelled by about 200%.

“Surely you’re in the Nick Clegg group now?” says grumpy audience man, referring to Oh-Nicky-You’re-So-Fine’s conspicuous habit of breaking promises, apologising, and crying a lot about it. B-but muh national executive, replies Nigel valiantly.

Then Jeremy Hunt enters the fray, still staring manically and wearing his little NHS pin as if that will make everybody spontaneously like him.

“We’re all human underneath…we’re pretty good at disguising it,” he whispers, in his soft, quietly menacing tones, like Norman Bates from Psycho talking about his mother. He continues with equally worrying lines like this which sound suspiciously like something an alien would say. Tristram Hunt, Hunt 2, chorfs and horfs and flails around trying to rebut Hunt and land a blow on Farage, but honestly I have more confidence in Hunt 1 (Jezza) being competent than Hunt 2 (Trissy), and that’s not a compliment.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

A wild woman appears! What will you do? >Fight >Bag >Poke >Run…I mean, ahem. This is Zanny Minton Beddoes, from the Economist, and she’s exactly what you’d expect from someone who writes for the Economist. I almost don’t need to write down anything she says, and instead throw copies of the Economist into people’s faces while they scream. It has the same effect. Anyway, she’s here to comment on how ridiculous this whole kerfuffle is (as does Brian May, in a slightly different way, hey-hey). True dat, Zanbabwe. True dat.

We need to discuss the future of our politics…starring me, says Loafy. “There’s an awful lot up for grabs,” he continues, for example, say…the leadership. Which leads us to:

Miss Labour Party 2015 World Tour

“Who is the best person to make Labour electable again?” comes the cry, and Tristram rises bumpily into the light like a drunken angel. Nigel smacks him down to terra firma by saying that Labour needs someone not from the metropolitan elite to lead them. Like Nigel! This is reasonable, except when you consider Nigel used to be a City banker, which isn’t metropolitan at all, of course.

Zanny Economizzle says that Labour needs to be in the centre. What the ‘centre’ means is a mystery, but to her it probably means taking baths in a big room full of MONAYYYY like in those old Scrooge McDuck comics. Everybody then rounds on Loafy, pestering him on his intentions: is he going to run, or is he just desperate for attention and love? Tristram explains that he’s not ruling myself in, he’s not ruling himself out, and neither is he shaking it all about.

Brian May sadly shakes his 18th century Georgian wig. ‘Aspiration’ is focused too much on monetary gain, he says, and Labour should become ‘the party of the working man’ again. Jeremy Hunt stares at him, uncomprehendingly, and explains otherwise. It’s frightening. Everyone, even Brian May, on this panel is a little frightening, actually.

Can you not tell house from electronica?

Next: “what concessions should the Prime Minister try and get for Britain from other EU member countries prior to the referenSHNRZZZZZ”. Sorry, fell asleep halfway through.

Zanny, the weird skinny woman, argues that she likes Europe – not the red tape, but rather the MONAYYYY it provides us. Jeremy merely mentions the word ‘benefits’ in the most mouse-like of whispers, and is drowned out by furious applause. It’s time for change in Europe, he says, and then makes this emoticon face: 0_0

Brian May is confuzzled. Why are we discussing this issue and not the far more adorable one at hand: fox hunting? Why not allow a referendum on that?

Jeremy Hunt continues to stare, programming his death. Foxes do not matter. 0_0 They are not humans. 0_0 They cannot hold the pencils in the voting booth. 0_0 Duh.

Farage suddenly explodes, bellowing about a “European army” ready to brainwash your children with fiendish Eurobeat music. When the topic of trading difficulties is brought up, he begins to yelp like a dog with a thorn in its paw. “NO! NO! NO! NO!” he yells, turning into Margaret Thatcher. Up yours, Delors!

Tristram bumbles and fumbles on, making his increasingly muddled pitch. He says that Labour overspent, and, shockingly enough in the constituency where Boris Johnson was elected, is greeted with a big cheer. He looks satisfied. Finally, people are beginning to appreciate him! The British people will decide, he grandstands, with new confidence – with help from the media, of course, and big donations of MONAYYYY!

Zaffy…Daffy…Dappy…whatever her name is, argues in favour of reform from within, to which Nigel is not satisfied and starts actually making some surprisingly decent points about Roy Jenkins’ valiant attempts to slap around the voting system a bit. Suddenly we’re on to another question about electoral reform, which is popular now apparently – the subject has been coming up all throughout this episode, so it’s somewhat difficult to know where to begin with such a complex issue. How about we begin with Tristram squareface breadhead messyhair parachuteseat poshguy talking about history and boring everyone? (Thought not.)

A man from the crowd, possibly an electoral reform hipster, asks where all these posers were during the AV referendum way back when. Nigel sighs and shrugs again, and then…makes the best burn of the night.

“Why Nick Clegg, after the Lib Dems campaigned for 40 years for PR, sold out for AV, I’ll simply never know.”

OOOOH, goes the crowd. OOOOOOOOH! GET IN! (The answer is, of course, because of coalitioneering, but nobody needs to know that.)

So it ends. For what appears like the 23rd time this year, Farage has gotten away with it. Or has he? Stay tuned, lemmings. Maybe we haven’t seen the last of this story yet…

Time for the scores!

Hunt (Con): 6/10

(Weirdly) Clean

Hunt (Lab): 5/10

Preen(ed and fell over)

Farage: 7/10

Keen (for this leadership stuff to just go away)

Minton Beddoes: 5/10

(Weirdly) Lean

May: 7/10

(Played for) Queen

The Crowd: 6/10

(Weirdly) Mean

Next time: not Farage.

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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