Good morning Lemmings and thank your lucky stars that I’m not going to do what I thought I was going to do today. And what did I think I was going to do? Well, having just finished James Ellroy’s LA Quartet I was toying with the idea of penning a Questionable Time Noire but have hastily reconsidered given the pure weight of political incorrect invectives that’s required to pull it off (not to mention the prospect of an angry Twitter mob arriving in my Notifications tab as soon as I refer to Harriet Harman as ‘some broad’). Nope, just plain old Questionable Time today so get those lucky stars thanked and let’s be on our way… Shitbirds…
Sooooo… The new Culture Secretary…
… Has a fascinating head. Unorthodox in shape, lustrous in sheen, it looks like the sort of bonce that if poked would give a little before springing back to its original form with a satisfying ‘Boing!’. Looks can be deceiving though because underneath that pleasing smile and placid eyes lies quite the QT ruffian who should only be trifled with cautiously. We’ll leave aside the matter of the expenses questions for now as a) it’s just as dull as it was five years ago and b) he had no other option than to play dumb given how he’s just slipped into a politically dead woman’s shoes. No, let’s go straight to the next (and far more interesting question) about the London housing bubble for it is here we begin to see another Sajid emerge – a steely, hardboiled Sajid with a bandolier full of economic data and a shoulder holster packed with animus for those who cried ‘Bubble!’ (which at this point is roughly 98% of people with half a brain). All of a sudden that serene and unassuming visage dissolved into something much more bellicose and hostile: ‘A bubble you say? Well try THESE NUMBERS ON FOR SIZE!”. In fact, so robust was his defence of a position that is self-evidently indefencible that I nearly ended up going along with it until he spoilt it all with the now customary It’s All Labour’s Fault manoeuvre.
This though was only a taster of just how unboingy his head is as his real party piece came later on with the question about tuition fees and the fact that they’re probably never going to get paid. After some perfunctory sparring with Harman, Sajid did the unthinkable: He craned his neck to the left, casually scanned Dimbers’ notes and then called codswallop on them. Now, that may not seem like a big deal but considering how most panelists treat Dimbers (like an angry and wrathful deity who must be venerated lest he bring down great terror upon their homesteads) it is, doubly so given just how nonchalantly he pulled it off – almost as if to say ‘Yeah that’s right, I’m violating the inviolable Dimblesphere. What are you going to do about it’. And what did they do about it? Nothing, because they were all too busy cowering under the desk and bracing for the swarm of locusts that inevitably follow a Dimbers scorned.
So yes, as performances go this was pretty impressive – for a Treasury Minister in Osborne’s Forbidden Palace of Divine Pain and Economic Punishment that is. However, that’s not his job any more. Now he’s the Culture Secretary and I’m pretty sure that his particular skill set may not translate so well to the more touchy-feely, wavy-gravy world of the arts. Still, what’s done is done and I for one will be seeking to placate our new Cultural Overlord which is why the next Questionable Time will be presented in Excel form.
Harman, Harman everywhere…
…But not a drop to – wait that makes no sense. No, I think what I was trying to get at is that Harriet Harman is now so ubiquitously ubiquitous that I no longer have any feelings – either good or bad – towards her: She’s just always there, like lampposts and unread emails. With this in mind I was half tempted to just copy and paste one of the millions of write-ups from her previous outings and see if anyone noticed but eventually thought better of it. No, instead I shall try to sum up her performance in a line:
Good at having cake. Also good at eating cake.
Job’s a good ‘un.
Kirsty Williams and the Perils of Doing Things Right…
I felt a little sorry for Williams last night, mainly because she was trying so hard to do QT right and that nearly always leads to people getting QT wrong. The big mistake here is to take the general public at its word because we say an awful lot of things we don’t mean – like that we want politicians who propose solutions and appear relatively normal. This was the approach that Kirsty went for, dutifully listing policies and appealing to our sense of the ordinary but it just didn’t quite cut it because her answers didn’t leave any space for us to get a sense of what she’s all about: Sure we got the gist of what she’d do, but not who she is. So how can she straighten this out? Well if the opinion polls are anything to go by it’s to get a silly haircut, a clutch of outlandish views and never be photographed without a fag or a pint.
Sorrell and Bragg: A buddy movie that’s just waiting to happen…
It’s no secret that I have trouble with Billy Bragg (or to be more precise I have trouble with folk music and purveyors of folk music who are unconditionally doted on by every colleague who’s over the age of 40 and owns a pair of Dr. Martins – which given I work in mental health is all of them) so it is once again somewhat galling to confess that yes, he was very good last night. However, the real revelation was how well he and Martin Sorrell got on together – they just kept giving each other these knowing nods and unspoken glances that said ‘You’re alright you are’. Granted, it helped that they were strangely in agreement for most of the show but still, the spectacle of Man of the People/Salt of the Erf Bragg and Bottom-Liner/Champion of Capitalism Sorrell’s little bromance gave the show a nice little subplot. Whether this means that Bragg will be the new face Nestle remains to be seen but in the meantime, here’s the now traditional pshop of Billy Bragg Hanging Out With People He Doesn’t Like (see Fig. 1).
Questionable Time: It’s nothing if not petty.
The Crowd: 6/10
(Live roughly 21 mile east of) Slough
Yeah yeah yeah, ‘Slough’ doesn’t rhyme with ‘tough’ BUT THEY LOOK THE SAME OK?
Right, that’s me done for Easter so enjoy the Dimblebreak and I’ll see you in May when QT will be in Leeds and I will undoubtedly be trying to infiltrate proceedings for Leeds is my turf. In the meantime, please feel free to acquire this rather lovely Questionable Time t-shirt.
In a few weeks Lemmings, in a few weeks…