Archive for March, 2011

Loudribs Lack Of Gumption Corner #4


Morning Lemmings and it is with regret that I bring you another Lack of Gumption Corner. To cut a long story short, I fell asleep about five minutes in to last night’s Question Time and was only awoken when the This Week theme came on at its usual ten trillion decibels. Upon reflection, I think the moment that consciousness slipped from my grasp was when Danny Alexander started speaking. For all I know, he might have gone on to deliver some soaring oratory on a par with MLK’s ‘I have a dream’ speech but from early indications it sounded like the opening shots in a particularly stultifying mandatory fire safety training session.

So apologies for the lack of QT dorkery this week, but by way of compensation, here’s a link to something rather ace: A friend of mine makes movie posters for a living and this is his blog. It’s fully awesome. Get amongst it.

Next week Lemming, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #40


question time david dimbleby chris bryant 40

Morning Lemmings and urgh… I have been laid low by an ill-tempered bug. Seeing as I’ve been rendered stupid by a combination of daytime telly and the effort of keeping everything inside me inside me, I’m going to keep this short which is a bit of a shame as it was a great episode last night.

Anyhoo, first surprise of the evening for me was the discovery that I may have grown slightly fond of Baroness Warsi. While many may say that this is just an outward manifestation of my current sickness, I’m inclined to disagree and cite this in my defence: Warsi and I go back a long way. When I first started writing these reports over a year ago, Cameron was at the height of his ‘down wiv da kids’ phase and as a result, Warsi was wheeled out on a seemingly endless basis in an effort to bring some much-needed ‘we’re not all total bastards’ tarting up to the Tory brand. In this endeavour she roundly failed but in the process gave me plenty to make fun of at a time when I was only just getting the hang of writing these reports, something for which I am eternally grateful. Since then, Warsi seems to have been somewhat sidelined, emerging every six months or so to say something of not much consequence so I was interested to see how she would perform tonight and I must confess that I was quite pleasantly surprised.

A year ago, the Warsi Field Manual dictated that all questions should be dealt with by throwing caution to the wind and recklessly charging at them with limbs a-flailing and teeth a-gnashing. The upshot of this inspired strategy usually turned out to be Warsi starting very strongly before completely overplaying her hand and then drowning in a ditch she herself had dug. This time however, she managed to keep herself in check and actually manage to avoid a number of ambushes that were laid for her by both Dimbers and Bryant. Granted, she still hasn’t shaken that tendency to talk down to everyone when she’s wearing her ‘serious’ face and she still does the Power Point thing where she very slowly makes a list of all the reasons why she’s right, but she did manage to sound like someone who had spent slightly longer than a nanosecond thinking about what she was going to say and in terms of improvement, it was a massive leap forward. So yes, well done Warsi… It’s not like I fancy you or anything but you are growing on me.

Not content with experiencing just one revelation, I was also quite pleased to see the return of Simon Hughes as an actual human being as opposed to the wraith-like representation of the collective guilt felt by the left wing of the Lib Dems he’s portrayed of late. Clearly unable to carry on making excuses for the Orange Book brigade, Hughes dispensed with the hand wringing and lip biting and actually (shock horror) started talking like a man who might start acting on his principles rather than just trying to smother them to death with the pillow of coalition. Nuclear power? Nein danke. NHS reform? Do not want. Midsommer Murders? STFU. All of which was nice to see but perhaps his moment of glory last night was when he put across the best case I’ve heard yet for intervention in Libya. Coming from a man who was at the heart of the anti-war movement, that’s tricky terrain to navigate but he did it and that’s quite impressive. As his reward, I’ve posted a small piece of wish fulfillment that he may appreciate: A picture of him goading Ming into throwing Nick Clegg off something very high (see Fig.1). Enjoy Simon, enjoy.

ming campbell simon huges throwing nick clegg

Fig. 1

Moving on to the Labour end of things we have Chris Bryant, a man who is worth watching (if only to see who he upsets next). Sadly though, it was not to be his night, partly because the coalition players put on a rare display of competence and partly because Labour’s lack of policy left him looking somewhat naked (not that he cares… he’s God’s gift to lazy satirical photoshoppers, what with the abundance of semi-in-the-nip pictures of him available) when ever he was asked what his party would do. Oh, and the comment about having people you don’t like over to dinner with regards to Libya? It may well be true, but it’s probably best not to bring it up when the aforementioned dinner guest is getting stuck into a bit of massacring. Just sayin’ Chris, just sayin’…

Fourth on last nights panel we have Green-in-Chief Caroline Lucas who managed to make plenty of hay from the whole Japan fallout (probably not the best choice of words from me there). However, she couldn’t really sustain that momentum and by the time it got to the Libya debate she was starting to look a little unsure of herself and seemed slightly troubled that she couldn’t rely on Hughes to bolster her case. Still, Lucas did regain some ground on the NHS question and as ever, she managed to get a green argument across without conjuring up images of didgeridoos and dogs with leads made out of blue nylon rope. Or the Levellers. Man, I hate the Levellers…

Finally there’s Kelvin MacKenzie, walking foghorn and general affront to humanity. Surprisingly enough, he ended up being quite the crowd favourite and raked in much applause by simply getting very, very angry about everything. Personally, I still think he’s a bit of a shit and his sudden transformation into Cheerleader General for the nuclear industry (“fantastically green!”, “fantastically safe!”, “nuclear or nothing!”) was a little hard to swallow (just as his random shouting of the words “Wooton Bassett!” was a little unsettling) but the crowd appear to have spoken. Oh well, every dog has his day I suppose…

So that was the panel and quite an interesting bunch they were to. For me I guess the thing that made this show was that it’s the first time I’ve seen the coalition behave as they should: As two separate entities, bound uneasily together by cruel circumstance but still very much in possession of their own agendas. That’s nice to see after months of witnessing the coalition’s Lib Dem super ego being Shanghaied into doing the bidding of the Tory led id and it made it feel like Westminster politics may finally be regaining some of its definition again. Of course, none of this was possible without a willing crowd to play along and save for their MacKenzie worship, Eastbourne did a good job. Of particular note was the kindly looking doctor of advancing years who piped up at the end and used Lansley’s proposed reforms to beat Warsi about the chops. That was nice, doubly so as he looked entirely non-threatening and benign. Also of note was the guy wearing a green shirt and beret. Now I know Eastbourne is a little bit of a time warp but seriously? A beret? ’68 has come and gone, man… Let it go.

Tl;dr

Warsi: Improved

6/10

Hughes: Approved

7/10

Bryant: Removed

5/10

Lucas: Unmoved

6/10

MacKenzie: Screwed

4/10

The Crowd: Booed

7/10

Right, that’s enough… I’m crawling back under the duvet to continue whimpering pathetically. All those in the market for stoicism, I suggest you go the hell some place else. Next week Lemmings, next week…



Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #39


question time david dimbleby trainspotting

Morning Lemmings and praise be, I have returned semi-refreshed from my Poland adventures and bearing valuable anthropological insights to boot. That’s right, even when I’m on holiday I’m still tireless working to advance our collective understanding, such is my self evident love of humanity. Anyhoo, the hallowed knowledge of which I speak relates to a weird phenomenon which I first encountered when I went to Poland five years ago: The Poles know that you’re English from a mile away and well before you’ve had a chance to embarrass yourself by attempting to speak Polish. On this visit I was determined to get to the bottom of this (if only to pooh-pooh a friend’s assertion that it was due to the fact that I look like a “homeless wizard”) and was duly presented with the opportunity when a local approached me and my better half and asked (in perfect English) if he could take one of our chairs. “Sure,” I said “but how come you knew we were English?”It is because you smile” he said. “Polish people do not smile.” I’ve since questioned a number of Poles as to the veracity of this claim and the overwhelming response has been “Yes. Polish people do not smile.” So there you go, now you know. Anyway, back to what you’re really here for and that’s Question Time, bought to you this week by the good people of Edinburgh (hence the Trainspotting theme). Before we start though, I best just warn you that I have real trouble following the Scottish episodes. It’s not that I’ve got anything against Scotland, it’s just that I simply don’t care about Scottish politics as it has zero bearing on my life. Sure, I’m over the moon that everyone (except the English) have their own parliaments and all but listening to the ins and outs of what’s hot and what’s not in Holyrood is on a par with pretending to be gripped by a long running and convoluted soap opera that you’ve never seen before. In short, it fuxes my persepshuns. Grizzling aside, it was a weird episode last night. By rights, the LibDems and Tories should have been all over the show given how, as well as the now usual ambient noise of the economy falling off the edge of a cliff/cutsogeddon, there was also the small matter of competence thrown into the mix, what with the whole SAS/evacuation/Venezuela business that’s been going on. However, I must say that both Michael Moore and Annabel Golding defied the odds and seemed to get out of the studio relatively unscathed. In the case of Moore, this was accomplished by being the most un-Lib Dem Lib Dem I have seen in a long while. I say this because I still live in a world where my idea of an average Yellow Corner candidate is a well-meaning, clog wearing peacenik who lives on nothing more than positive vibes and Janis Joplin LP’s (I realize that last May’s election rendered this assumption obsolete overnight but old habits die hard). Anyhoo, Michael Moore isn’t one of those Lib Dems. No, he’s much more of a heads down, ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’, Wagner listening, shit kicking muscular Lib and he spent the best part of last night taking the fight to both Douglas Alexander and Nicola Sturgeon. Ok, so he faltered slightly when the matter of the Barnsley by-election result question came up but it wasn’t a trouncing and he left the show with the bulk of his dignity intact. Granted, his uber-belligerence isn’t entirely my cup of tea, but given the backdrop, the boy did pretty good (not withstanding a -1 modifier for wonky deficit invocation).

Similarly with Golding, while it wasn’t a stellar performance she did manage to keep on an offensive footing thorough most of the show and pulled off a quite brilliant duck-and-weave when she managed to totally avoid the whole Barnsley ambush by whittering on about “candy floss” and other unrelated matters. Usually this sort of chicanery is easily spotted and dealt with, but for reasons unknown, she got clean away with it and thus avoided the now routine Tory dilemma of whether or not to gloat at bad news for the Libs. I’m inclined to mark her down a little for being the first to bring up al-Megrahi as it’s beginning to annoy me that all Scottish Question Time’s have essentially become ‘al-Megrahi Time’ for the last year or so but credit where credit’s due, she did accomplish the heroic feat of holding her own as a Scottish Tory. And that, dear Lemmings is not to be sniffed at. Moving on to the other side of the electoral divide we have Wee Danny Alexander who I had very high hopes for tonight. Not only does he have a long and distinguished track record for being ‘quietly effective’ (and they’re the ones to watch, especially the Scottish ones. Alistair Darling, anyone?) and has managed to ride out the Brown/Miliband transition without as much as breaking a sweat, he’s also had a very good week, what with his epic zinging of Hague in the Commons. However, I must say I was disappointed with his outing as he never quite seemed to get the bit between his teeth and appeared to be caught very off-balance by the fact that pretty much everyone was gunning for him in one way or another. The result was that he was the one who looked like he belonged to a government on the skids and the coalition candidates looked like the bringer of greater things which on a week where there were open goals positively littering the field of play, is pretty inexcusable. Sure, his style is much better deployed in situations where he’s got the space to develop his attacks from a quiet whisper and into a less than eye-catching but nevertheless relentless juggernaut, but he never really looked like he got hold of the initiative last night. So come on Wee Dougie, up your game next time or face the risk of ‘quietly effective’ being replaced in the public conscience with ‘quietly forgettable’. Next in line we have Nicola Sturgeon who continues to strike me as the slightly odd girl at school who would eshew her peers’ love of Just-17 and Mad Dog 20-20 for the far manlier callings of judo practice and orienteering. I also bet she wore walking boots to school. Don’t know why, but that’s what my gut’s telling me. Anyhoo, she didn’t have a bad night and did manage to pull off a very impressive bait-and-switch where she managed to sound a little contrite about al-Magrahi before totally dropping Labour in it, a nifty little ploy that she pretty much got away with. However, I do find that just underneath the surface there always seems to be this edge of panic with Sturgeon and I’ve seen it in Salmond as well. As I said earlier, I really haven’t the foggiest when it come to Scottish politics but every time I see the SNP on TV (which in practice means either Sturgeon or Salmond as there doesn’t appear to be anyone else from the party who’s allowed in front of a camera) I get this feeling that they’re only just holding it together and that privately, the sensation of being on a heavily listing ship scares the living crap out of them. I caught it out of the corner of my eye during the al-Magrahi bait-and-switch: Seemingly, Sturgeon was steaming ahead with the audience behind her but you could tell by the way her eyes darted about for threats and the slight cracking of her voice that she wasn’t entirely convinced of her chances of success. Still, not a bad outing for her and she would be well within her rights to go out and buy herself a nice yet utilitarian present (possibly made of GoreTex) as a little ‘well done’ present. Ok, we’re getting there. Wait a second, what’s this? Another political panelist? I think Scotland is now intentionally trying to wind me up. Having said that, the panelist in question, Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens turned out to be quite the performer and this despite the fact that the spectacles/waistcoat/baldy head combo make him look like he’s just wandered out of a Steampunk convention. The thing that impressed me about Harvie was the way in which he managed to stay on the right of the sincere/sanctimonious line that has long been the undoing of many a Green. He also managed to articulate what the audience seemed to be thinking on all the foreign policy questions (which is that we’re essentially hypocrites. And so we are) and he managed to remain above most of the political name calling that went on. Ok, so he does a far greater latitude than the other politicos but I was left thinking that he seemed a pretty decent and clever guy who knows exactly what he believes in. Maybe I won’t nuke Scotland when I am King. Right, that’s the inordinate amount of party political panelists done with so now for the ‘comedy’ one which this week takes the form of Nick Ferrari. Prior to the show, I was going through my routine google images search for pshop fodder when I stumbled across this highly disturbing shot of Ferrari and Vanessa Feltz engaging in what appears to be a kiss. Shocked and repelled by this glimpse of Hades I swiftly shut down my browser, showered for several hours and prayed that I may unsee the horror that had beset me. Initially, I thought I’d got away with it but that was until earlier this morning when I was startled to discover that if you look closely at Albrechts Durer’s The Horsemen of the Apocalypse you can clearly see the same diabolical scene re-enacted at the foot of picture. Don’t believe me? Then check this out (see Fig. 1).

nick ferrari vanessa feltz apocalypse

Fig. 1

Weird, huh? Anyway, back to the subject in hand and let’s face it, there isn’t that much to say about Ferrari other than he doesn’t exactly go in for subtlety. His MO’s pretty much as follows: Start every rant with “It’s utterly/absolutely scandalous/ridiculous/appalling”, proceed to look like you’re on the verge of some coronary infarction, disregard any nuance and deploy the final set piece which will hopefully involve a reference to the Nazi’s winning the war and all of us speaking German”. Seen through this narrow lens, he had a belting night and not only managed to invoke the Nazi/speaking German wheeze but also managed to finesse it with a mention of Dunkirk. However, when seen through any other, slightly less rabid lens it all just looks a bit wanky and one-dimensional. Still, I can take comfort in the fact that he probably doesn’t sleep, haunted as he is by the recurring visions of Feltz moving in for that final, torrid meeting of lips. Eww… I think I should stop going down this road before I do myself a mental mischief. So yes, bit of an odd show and one that didn’t exactly grip me as if the subject matter wasn’t something very Scottish it was all very foreign affairs and we’ve had quite a lot of that of late. The crowd themselves weren’t too bad but their affections seemed quite evenly split so it never got the point where someone on the panel achieved the critical mass needed to go on a really epic rampage and lets face it, that’s what we’re all really watching for. Actually, maybe I will nuke Scotland when I am King. Tl;dr Moore: Bruising 6/10 Golding: Cruising 6/10 Alexander: Snoozing 4/10 Sturgeon: Confusing 5/10 Harvie: Oozing 7/10 Ferrari: Losing 3/10 The Crowd: Boozing 5/10 And that’s that. I’m off to send my cats mental with the bottle of liquid catnip I bought yesterday whilst listening to Turbonegro at high volume. I know how to have a good time. Next week Lemming, next week…


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