Questionable Time #77


questionable time 77 david dimbleby

Good morning Lemmings and where do we find ourselves on the one week where I actually wanted QT to be in Scotland? Stranded in the flatlands of Lincolnshire, that’s bloody where. Still, considering this is possibly the first show in the current run where there’s been nary a mention of utility bills I shall suck this puddle of iniquitous happenstance up with good grace and go about my work without rancour. Alright, so there might be a little bit of rancour but that’s just par for the course. Off we go…

I don’t practice Santeria, I ain’t got no crystal ball…

…But if I was ever to need a conduit to the Land of the Dead it would be Anna Soubry who I’d turn to based entirely on the remarkable job she did last night in channelling the spirit of the late Margaret Thatcher. It was an eerie spectacle: Soubry, still smarting from her endearingly ramshackle tumble through the first question suddenly fell into a trance-like state as Farage was getting busy putting the frighteners about. Arguments and ill-tempered exchanges flourished with both panelists and audience taking umbrage with one another yet Soubry remained hunched in silence, eyes fixed on an invisible point in infinity. “Over to you, Anna Soubry” came the call and then a pause as her head slowly raised to reveal gaping black holes where eyes should have been before rotating through a full 360 degrees.

They come here to WORK. They come here to do JOBS”

A chill descended on the studio as that ominous, just-a-little-too-long pause at the start of each sentence, that crawling slow delivery, that emphatic emphasis on the last word started to fire off flickers of recognition in the minds of all those present. Wait a second… I know who that sounds like… It’s… Oh Jesus no… The Iron Lady has cheated death!

Alright, so that might have been a slight exaggeration as it was actually more like a plummy sounding woman trying to do an impression of a woman who went out of her way to sound very plummy but the similarities were unmistakable – uncanny even – and my suspicion is that this is what Anna Soubry does when she knows she’s in a tight spot: She shuts her eyes, clenches her fists as tight as she can and keeps repeating “What would Maggie do? What would Maggie do? What would Maggie do?” over and over until her inner-Thatcher comes and rescues her. Given that I’m not exactly a fan of the late-PM, you’d think I’d view this as an undesirable trait but in fact I’ve grown to quite like it because it’s like a self negating-prophesy. Think about it, what would Maggie do? Well, she definitely wouldn’t be asking anyone for advice because she’d already know with horrifying certainty exactly what it was she wanted to do in the first place. I also have to admit that weird as it was, Soubry’s little voodoo ceremony actually turned out rather well and that’s the thing about Soubry – although she quite often buggers things up on QT she has a knack of shambling through things in a pleasingly game sort of way… And that, dear Lemmings, is definitely not what Maggie would do.

I hear music when I see Emily Thornberry…

…Not celestial choirs or anything like that but there are two tracks that pop into my head when I see her. The first is Foghat’s Slow Ride and I hear this when she’s doing well – you know, like when her voice goes all buttery and everything she says sounds mellow and reasonable. The second song however is Screeching Weasel’s Breaking Point and I hear this whenever she starts to get grumpy – you know, like when she does the rolly eye thing and everything she says sounds sarky and sanctimonious. Happily for Emily I’m pleased to report that we had a full evening of Slow Ride - not least on account of the unspoken truce between Teams Red and Blue in the face of the Garish Yellow and Purple Team– but I won’t go quite as far in my praise as the author of this text I received during the show did (see Fig. 1).

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

All those wishing to chip into the Bet Against Uglymonkey Fund, please make yourselves known by way of the comments box.

Nigel’s playing for keepsies…

So we’ve all become quite accustomed to the cock-a-hoop/waggy-tailed/I-can’t-believe-I’m-getting-away-with-it Farage of late and that’s been a fun exercise in both mischief and farce, not least because no-one (except Michael Crick) has got hurt and it all just feels like mid-term tomfoolery. However all good things come to an end and it appears we are now stuck with a much more hard-headed, composed and actually rather steely Farage who’s up to his old tricks of selling crazy to Middle England (see Fig. 2). The most worrying bit is how well he managed to keep it all together last night – no getting carried away with it all, no talking himself into a corner – not to mention the fact that there was clearly a big appetite for the rather bitter dish he was serving. It was also probably his least fun appearance to date and I’m wondering how long that can be sustained – could we tolerate a ‘sensible’ Farage and everything that entails? I suspect not.

nigel farage the shining

Fig. 2

And the remainder?

I should tell Benjamin Zephaniah off for never really answering questions and trading in the vaguest of vagaries but who am I kidding? Like I could find it in my heart to go to town on clearly the nicest man in the whole world. As for Vicky Pryce, well what to make of her? She likes numbers – that was made pretty clear from the outset – and she also likes swallowing very hard mid-sentence. However, the bit that got me was the anecdote about the woman in the burqa eating an egg and how much that totally blew her mind. An egg! Eating it! In a burqa! Vicky Pryce: She’s seen things you wouldn’t believe…

Tl;dr

Soubry: 6/10

(Is very) Game

Thornberry: 7/10

(Deserves modest) Acclaim

Farage: 5/10

(Managed to) Blame (the EU for just about everything again)

Zephaniah: 6/10

(Did the) Same (things as he always does in the same lovely way)

Pryce: 5/10

(Did) Exclaim (much bewilderment at eggs and burqas)

The Crowd: 6/10

(Are fans of so-hot-right-now Californian trio) Haim

Well, that was right old school, what with the wall-to-wall talk on immigration. I guess it makes a change from gas bills though. Now, just so you know, I’m not going to be here next week but in a Questionable Time first I will have someone standing in for me. Her name’s Elizabeth, she’s the brains behind the consistently chucklesome Cones Hotline and she’ll be at the helm for next week’s nautical little jaunt to Pompey. Bud-a-bup-bup-bup-budda-budda-budda-bup (to the confused, that’s the theme from Blue Peter… It just felt appropriate…)!

Sort of next week Lemmings… Sort of…

2 Responses to “Questionable Time #77”


  1. 1 Franky November 9, 2013 at 19:12

    I look forward to the forensic gaze you comedically cast on the ‘great and good’ of QT, and am happy to see someone standing in for you next week.


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