Archive for June, 2011

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #48


 

 

question time huddersfield

Morning Lemmings and praise be, we are no longer in Scotland and back on a more familiar footing, unhindered by issues I care not for and accents I can’t fathom. No Lemmings, this week we find ourselves in Huddersfield and I’m happy to say that I’ve got a pretty good idea of what goes on in that neck of the woods thanks to a rather colourful history I share with the town. Most of this is down to the fact that it’s only a few miles down the road from me but also because when the band I’m in first started playing live, we ended up in Huddersfield on a fair few occasions. Unfortunately for both me and Huddersfield, we hadn’t quite figured out the correct alcohol-to-performance ratio and one of our earlier gigs was largely characterised by me trying to explain/slur to the audience that “there’s no ‘I’ in ‘Huddersfeld Bus Staton”. This was largely met with bemused puzzlement but I remained undeterred and continued to berate the assembled rabble that “there’s no ‘I’ in ‘Huddersfeld Tran Staton” either. For reasons beyond me I just wouldn’t let this go (probably because I was very proud of being able to remove ‘I’s from words whilst barely being able to stand) and the evening rapidly descended into farce as I realised that all the things that my hands were doing with the guitar were not the things they were supposed to be doing. So yes, Huddersfeld and I go back a bit.

 

Sub-prime tales of amateur rockery aside, I was into this episode, not because it was in any way an epic bloodbath or anything remotely like that but mainly because it proved a cautionary tale into the pitfalls of frontbench politics. Our two protagonists in this tale of woe take the form of loco right-wing lodestar John Redwood and Womble-esque Secretary of State for Transport Norman Baker. Now, this pair have come at their career from completely opposite ends with Redwood entering government a bare two years after becoming an MP whilst Baker has only just arrived into a position of power after 13 years on the shelf. The experience of government for Redwood had been a chequered affair to say the least, what with him being possibly the most rabid proponent of Thatcherism in a government full of rabid proponents of Thatcherism, his now legendary bollocksing up of the Welsh national anthem and his failed attempt to topple John Major. Basically, he veered erratically between being genuinely, frighteningly crazy and a general purpose figure of ridicule. In contrast, Baker spent his early years being pretty much the textbook example of an effective backbencher and he had the guts to take on some very powerful figures (he started in motion the chain of events that led to Mandelson’s second resignation), would go out of his way to uncover things of an iffy nature (the Dr. Kelly affair comes to mind) and nurtured a whole host of kooky little side causes like Tibet. Here he is with a tiny manifestation of the Dalai Lama levitating between his cupped hands (see Fig. 1… it’s been a dry week for Google Images).

norman baker dalai lama

Fig.1

Fast forward to last night’s show and we find that the tables have turned and the results are quite dramatic for the fortunes of our protagonists. Take Redwood for example: Since he’s been on the backbenches Ol’ Vulcanchops has actually become quite fun as he wilfully takes potshots at his own party and this was apparent throughout the episode. Greece (which he insisted on addressing as ‘she’)? Let the bastards go under! U-turns? Couldn’t care less providing that someone stops Clarke from bumming offenders. Pensions?The public sector can go suck a lemon (actually, that’s a little unfair as he did attempt to act in a slightly conciliatory manner on this question)! Sure, some of what he said really shouldn’t be uttered north of the Severn-Wash line and he was rightly pilloried for taking the ‘it’s all Labour’s fault’ jalopy out for its ten trillionth spin but all the while he looked very comfortable and certainly wasn’t going to arse about with such trivialities as toeing the party line. Now, I realise that I’ve relentlessly taken the piss out of him in the past but that’s mainly because it’s so easy and in actual fact, I quite enjoyed seeing him on last night’s show, despite how weird that sounds as the words pass my lips. Jesus, did I really just say that?

Baker, by contrast, had an entirely different match and not a great one at that. He largely got away with the Greece question by letting Redwood go through the ‘Labour’s fault’ motions but he seemed vulnerable on the u-turn and pensions numbers. Granted, there was only one moment when things got really dicey (the boo-fest about the manifesto) but you could tell that he was on borrowed time and although he generally sounded reasonable, you got the sense that singing from the Downing Street issued hymn book was actually bloody hard work for him. And therein lies the rub: People like Baker and Redwood are essentially free range politicians and enticing though power may be, captivity in government leads inevitably to their slow decline into madness. In many ways I think that’s a shame because I like Baker and I think he’s well suited to his brief (Transport Minister is an inherently nerdy posting), but his main strengths lie in the fact that he’s very adept at holding the powerful to account and that’s something that’s very tricky to do when you’re actually in government. So sorry Norman, I know it’s cool to play with the biggest train set in the world but seriously, is it worth it?

The other big political story of the night was that Labour’s panelist actually did very well and about bloody time too if you don’t mind me saying (mind you, that’s what you get when you only put forward ex-Home Secretaries for ten million weeks in a row). On the stump for the Red Team was parliamentary n00b Rachel Reeves and funnily enough, the MP for my constituency. While I’ve never met Reeves personally, I did send her a very pedantic email prior to the election demanding why exactly I should vote for her and to her credit, she replied at length. Ok, so we had a few disagreements about foreign policy and I actually ended up voting Green, but at least she took the time to indulge my curmudgeonry and from that point on, I’ve been keeping a close eye on her. In terms of the show, she got off to a strong start with some well-aimed jabs at the coalition and also had the gumption to bring up the fact that the Tory’s were fully signed up to Labour’s spending plans prior to the crash. Quite why Labour have been so reluctant to pull this one out of the bag more often I don’t know but it’s nice to finally see someone pour cold water on what has been the coalitions stock response to pretty much any criticism. Most of her other response were also fairly robust with a good innings on pensions/u-turns and the crowd seemed to be largely signed up to the Reeves Manifesto. Ok, so if you’re a Labour politician facing Redwood in Huddersfield and the crowd aren’t with you then you might as well just give up as this is about as easy as it gets, but I was impressed with her performance and I’ve got a feeling that she’s one to watch… Even if her slightly blokey voice jars with her otherwise female face.

Right, that’s the political bit, now for the civilians, this week represented by Anorak-in-Chief David Mitchell and paragon of mumsiness Fern Britton. Given that Mitchell has now been appointed as the Default Face of Middlebrow Satire he was pretty much in his element on Question Time and he was very easy to watch. All his answers were pictures of reasonableness with a few chuckles thrown in for good measure and while he isn’t so great with the details, the points he was making all seemed to make a good amount of sense. Britton on the other hand was a completely different kettle of fish and most of her responses can be summed up as follows:

I’m too sure about [insert current subject here], but as a mother/woman/feminist [delete as appropriate] I despair/enthusiastically endorse [delete as appropriate] of whatever it is that we’re talking about”

When this approach to political debate is combined with a halting yet impassioned delivery you begin to feel like you’re being smothered to death with several tons of marshmallows. I’m conscious that this all sounds a little po-faced as Britton doesn’t pretend to be anything other than human security blanket and her Blair interview made it clear that she’s the softest of softballers but I just don’t think her MO makes for very good Question Timing. Sure, it garners claps-a-plenty but it doesn’t really add anything to mix. Having said that, it would have been funny if Phillip Schofield was also on the panel and they ended up descending into their obligatory fog of giggles and innuendo, but until that happens my face will continue to be po.

So that was panel, what of the audience? On the face of it this was a pretty mundane show: Redwood largely behaved, no-one said anything especially earth-shattering and the biggest clap of the night actually went to Dimbleby when he speared Baker with some high velocity tuition fees. Having said that though it was just what I needed, largely because I instantly understood it. Given that I live in Leeds, the politics of the M62 are my bread and butter and this crowd were pretty much a living representation of what that entails. Sure, they weren’t the most exciting bunch (although the guy who looked like the Pennines’ answer to the X-Factor’s Wagner did spice things up a little) and no major scalps were claimed but it had the feel of a very well made cup of tea: Ultimately unexciting but immensely comforting nevertheless.

Tl;dr

Redwood: 6/10

(orange) Hued

Baker: 4/10

(got) Booed

Reeves: 7/10

Wooed

Mitchell: 6/10

Dude

Britton: 5/10

(probably makes a whole bunch of women feel) Brood(y)

The Crowd: 5/10

(sub)Dued

Ok, so that was totally mellow. Sorry if it wasn’t the most exciting report but it really did feel like a warm bath episode and warm baths are only funny if someone farts in the them. No one farted in this episode. Anyway, you’ll be pleased to know the mellowness was only transitory in nature and was soon ripped apart by the eye-splitting spectacle of Michael Portillo and Alan Johnson wearing near identical stripy shirts on This Week (and that was before the horror of watching Will Hutton’s strange face in HD). Expect more reasonable levels of irritability to return in the next instalment.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #47


 

david dimbleby question time oil 47Morning Lemmings and welcome to a brand new rule I’m instigating for all further Post Match Reports: Scotland, you are getting your word count cut, mainly because I haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about. Granted, you’re not as bad as the episodes from Northern Ireland where I really don’t have the slightest inkling about who’s who but since you seem to love making Question Time into a ‘Scotland this’ and ‘Scotland that’ circlejerk, I’m cutting back on how much I write as any attempt to give you the full treatment is pretty much an exercise in ignorance on my part (for all I know, the rumours are true and all that lies north of the border is a barren landscape inhabited by a wild rabble of straggly haired men who hunt wild Mars Bars while the womenfolk raise crops of super strength lager, but if it came to the crunch, I wouldn’t really be able to tell you one way or another). In short, I’m keeping this short.

 

Excuses made, let us plough on and get stuck into our first victim who this week takes the spectral form of Lord Forsyth, the back-in-the-day Secretary of State for Scotland under John Major. Now, I have absolutely no recollection of this guy as a) he was Secretary of State for Scotland and b) I was 17 when he left government but I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for and not in a good way given his background. However, what I was not banking on was just how spooky his presentation is. Some of this down to his slow, halting and low-key verbal delivery but in the main it’s a by-product of this haunted look that is forever stricken across his face. It’s the look of a man who has passed through some terrible night of the soul, seen things that no man should see and now lives a life tormented by the daemons he encountered. Still, things started to take on a more familiar form with the first question (the VAT cut/economy number) and he was soon going through the standard motions of blaming Labour, banging on about debt and generally playing to type. “Phew” thought I, “I know all this stuff is a very tired and boring but at least I know where I am with this guy”. And so I did until it got the question about the right to die. Now, I usually hate it when questions of an ethical nature appear on Question Time as a) it usually ends up with everyone in back slapping agreement and b) matters of this nature are much better suited to Sunday morning’s The Big Question (especially when that old lady with the crazy beehive hairdo is on. She’s like a Daily Mail article composed entirely out of quotes from the Old Testament). However, I was totally blindsided by Forsyth’s response and in a very good way as when it came to his turn to speak he responded by saying “I really don’t know what to think about this”. Come again? Was that a politician claiming not to have an opinion on something?  I have a sneaking suspicion it was and if so, kudos to him as I tire of the fact that politicians are pretty much allowed to do anything except admit that don’t have a position on a particular subject.

 

So that cheered me up and after a thoughtful and well put together amble around the ins and outs of right to die he then cranked it up another couple of notches by stating that Osborne was wrong for taxing the oil sector. The crowd loved it, Margaret Curran loved it, I loved it (primarily because it’s rare to see a panelist so wantonly break the party line) and Michael Moore hated it. In short, jobs a good ‘un and Lord Forsyth has made a bloody good fist of confounding my expectations, even if I couldn’t give a monkeys about the level of taxation in the Scottish oil industry.

 

Sticking with the slightly Halloweeny theme we now move on to Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland and a man who is probably best portrayed by a leering pumpkin in our sepulchral scene. In many ways you’ve got to hand it to Salmond and not only for being the only man in Scotland if Question Time is anything to go by. No, I also give him props for being an epic chancer who has a knack for pulling one out of the bag, even if it’s by the skin of his teeth. This being his first QT outing since he crushed Labour in the recent election, Salmond had every right to bear his jagged, pumpkin teeth and he made some early gains by more or less promising to shower Scotland with cold, hard cash. However, as the show moved on and got to the question about a referendum, the smile appeared on closer inspection to be a little gappy, a little crooked and slightly yellowing as the audience called his bluff on the subject. Now, I personally couldn’t give two hoots about Scottish independence as it has no great bearing on my life. Sure, the Union Flag would look a little odd without the blue bits but providing that the whiskey keeps heading south and no-one with the intention of invading daubs themselves with blue paint then we’re golden. However, I do understand that it is a big deal on the other side of the border and Salmond probably found himself at the wrong end of the issue last night. So was it a showstopper? In short, no. Salmond may have got flustered but he’s nothing if not dogged and took his licks before cleaning up on the oil question. And that’s why I do have a certain level of admiration for him: Whatever he’s selling, it’s probably a little hooky but he still gets people to buy it even if they themselves are aware that the goods are tainted. I also admire him for this photo of him pretending to be a rabbit (see Fig. 1).

alex salmond rabbit

Fig. 1

 

 

Ok, so we’ve got a ghoul, we’ve got a pumpkin, how about a witch? On the face of it, Margaret Curran should fill this slot rather well, given that she has a somewhat witchy face but in actual fact she seemed quite nice. I can’t really remember that much of what she said and none of it was especially brilliant but she does deserve credit for having a sense of humour and generally being quite reasonable on most matters. So yes, not your classic nasty witch, just a fairly nice person with slightly witchy features. However, the same cannot be said for Michael Moore as he did a bang up job of providing us with a Lurch like character, mainly through dint of being the most boring man to listen to in the entire world. Seriously, I checked my notes earlier as I have no recollection of what he was droning on about and all I found were random scribbles by his initials like “DON’T KNOW WHAT HE’S SAYING”, “CAN’T CONCENTRATE ON THIS PILLOCK” and “DEAR SWEET JESUS, KILL ME NOW”. What was apparent was that no-one liked him, Forsyth certainly wasn’t in the market for helping him out and he copped pretty much all of the flak directed at the coalition. Basically, he was powerfully boring and we probably would have had a better performance out of a reanimated corpse. Is that quite a harsh assessment? Yes. Is it also a fair assessment? Absolutely.

So that was the politicos and all we have left is Tom Hunter, a Scottish businessman who I’ve never come across before and is in possession of a very sinister set of eyebrows, thus completing our spooky line-up with some aplomb. Now, I’m not usually a fan of entrepreneurs and their ilk on QT as they usually tend to be a bit rabid and mental in a Tax Payers Alliance sort of way. However, I’ve got to say that I liked Hunter as while he did bang the business drum a fair bit, at least he did it in a jaunty and pleasant fashion. He also seems to be a little more rounded than your standard money types and although he didn’t get much of a look in last night, when he did it was usually with fairly reasonable stuff and with the odd bit of humour here and there. The eyebrows are still scary though and when they’re combined with that bald head he looks a little like a cross between Ming the Merciless and Colonel Kurtz. Jesus, that is scary.

Right, so that’s them and all that remains is the crowd, most of whom appeared to be Scottish, interested in oil and all for offing themselves as soon as they hit 60 (if the right to die question was anything to go by). Actually, I tell a partial lie as bizarrely enough, the member of the audience who made the most passionate appeal for Scottish independence was also the most English sounding person in the whole show. Don’t ask me, I just work here. A special mention also goes out to the doctor and nurse who had a running to-do over assisted suicide. Personally, I’m with the doctor although not through any major point of principle but mainly because he had a very natty jacket.

Tl;dr

Forsyth: 7/10

Undead

Salmond: 6/10

Unabashed

Curran: 5/10

Unabrasive

Moore: 3/10

Unfun

Hunter: 6/10

Unabused

The Crowd: 5/10

Understandable

So there you go, an Ok-ish show, littered with a bunch of people who can’t quite make their minds up about issues I have zero interest/stake in. Still, it could have been worse. It could have been Glasgow. At least I could physically decipher what these guys were saying and I didn’t have to hide behind the sofa for fear that the drunken mob may break through the television screen and smash-up my living room. Ok, after offending an entire nation, I’m off to enjoy not moving house.

 

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #46


Morning Lemmings and as the title picture indicates, I am still without internet, hence my having to fall back on sticking pictures of my cat’s head on Dimber’s face. Actually, this situation could change at any moment as I’m currently waiting for the BT engineer to arrive and hook me up with some of that sweet, sweet data. I hope he comes soon. It’s been a hard week. I’ve had to ‘talk’ and ‘read’ and other such antiquated activities that have no place in the fast lane that is my life. The whole experience has been distressing to say the least so hurry Mr BT Engineer… This situation cannot persist.

 

Enough of that and on with Question Time, brought to us this week by the good people of Norwich. First on the stump we have Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development and all-round interesting guy. I say this not only because he’s at the liberal end of the Tory party and looks like his hair was borrowed from a Beano character but also because he pulls a neat trick: He appears to be a True Believer but not in a way that scares me. Most True Believers (politicians who look really, really into what they’re doing) fill me with horror as they have a habit of taking their pet ideas and running with them with wild abandon whilst giving nary a thought for the consequences (Blair and Thatcher being the textbook examples with the likes of Gove and IDS propping up the second rank). In short, not only have they drank the Kool Aid, they are also attempting to drown everyone else in it as well. Now Mitchell certainly has the look of the True Believer as his default posture seems to be one of alert engagement and he certainly seems convinced that his little corner of policy is a matter of life and death but there also seems to be something else going on with him that makes me think that he probably isn’t a nutter. I’m not quite sure what that thing is but should I find out, you’ll be the first to know.

 

In terms of performance he did ok last night although it was quite a scrappy start as he went through the compulsory ‘Labour inheritance/grasping the nettle’ stuff that neatly divided the audience into Booers and Cheerers but you could tell that he wasn’t really into making a big deal out of this subject. His responses to the Libya and sexualisation questions were also pretty standard and without excess vim, but serviceable enough nevertheless. Where he did do well was on his home turf of International Development and here he let rip with a well thought out robust defence of the concept of aid whilst also acknowledging that there was still a lot of work to do. Personally, I thought it was great as it combined a moral imperative with a hearty dose of realpolitik but unfortunately for Mitchell it just seemed to pass the crowd by and left them in a state of blank silence. That’s a shame as I thought it was a rare moment of clarity in an otherwise very scrappy show and I think he deserved a little more for his efforts. Oh well, at least he won the top prize in Parliament’s Westminster Dog of the Year award back in 2009. Norwich may be fickle but at least he can always hark back to that crowning glory.

 

Moving on and we are soon confronted by none other than Charles Clarke the fourth ex-New Labour Home Secretary in as many weeks who also seems to have a big hairy bollock in place of where his head should be. Now I’m not really not a fan of Clarke, partly because of the standard charge list I associated with New Labour Home Secretaries (see LCCPMQTR passim), partly because he’s one of the most inept plotters that parliament has seen for a good few years but mainly because he always reminds me of an imbittered Deputy Head who has a burning resentment for both the students and the staff for not appreciating him quite as much as he thinks they should. To be fair to him, he wasn’t that bad last night as he refrained from using Question Time as a forum to pour scorn on his own team but also because he had quite an easy ride (lets face it, dishing out additional beat downs after the Archbishop of Canterbury has righteously smote you foes is hardly rocket science).Having said that, he did annoy me a slightly as he appeared to be gunning for the world record of how many times he could use the word ‘incoherent’ in one sitting. I totally agree Charles, the coalition’s policies are wildly incoherent but I, like the rest of the country, somehow managed to arrive at the conclusion myself and I really don’t need to learn it by rote. However, I am inclined to slip him an extra point for coming to Mitchell’s defence of the foreign aid issue. Very big of you Charles, very big.

 

Right, next up is our final politico of the day, Jo Swinson, Deputy Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and frighteningly young (frightening in that she’s younger than me) MP. I feel bad for what I’m about to say next as I get the feeling that she probably has genuinely good intentions, but she really could crank the perkiness down a notch or two, if only to stop her delivery sounding like that of a BBC Breakfast News weather reporter (a la Carol… “Good Mooooooooooooooooooooooooourning!”). The other thing that slightly irked me was that all of her answers reminded me of one of those nightmare job interviews where you’re really not sure what answer your prospective employer wants to hear and you end up hedging your bets by attempting the ‘balanced argument’ approach in the hope that you’ll come across as a well-rounded and thoughtful individual. In fact, what tends to happen is that you end up getting tangled in a mess of self-generated contradictions that make you look like an indecisive prat or worse still, an Apprentice candidate. Now, to be fair to Jo, she never outright contradicted herself but her whole line of being scrupulously fair and reasonable combined with a dose of youthful optimism (I really did think she was going to end every sentence with a ‘Yay!!!!!!’) was just a little too odd for my tastes and actually made me feel old (which is even odder as there’s only a few months between us). As I said before, I feel a little bad for saying this as she does seem like a nice person but I’m not in the market for nice on Question Time. I’m in the market for blood and stomach pills, sturm und drang, Sodom and Gomorrah, that sort of thing and I’m afraid that affable young whippersnappers just don’t cut that kind of mustard. So sorry Jo, I have no doubt your intentions are good but we all know what the road to hell is paved with.

 

So that was the party political crowd and to be honest, they weren’t exactly electrifying. Good job then that waiting in the wings we have salty old figurehead of Wimminism Germin Greer and Eeyore of the right, Peter Hitchens. Given the fairly placid reaction of the panel to the Archbishop question, I was pretty much relying on Greer to spice things up a little only to be let down by the fact that she had absolutely no intention of addressing any matter directly. No, instead we were treated to a round-the-house spiel about presidential politics and her own record-breaking attempt involving the word ‘fiat’. ‘Oh well,’ thought I, ‘at least she’ll be able to sink her teeth into the child sexualisation question’ and sink teeth she did…. into a big fat sandwich of crazy. It started with a slightly odd grumble about how it was impossible to buy “non-tarty” clothes for little girls and then rapidly descended into a Freudian hell hole in which girls learn to flirt by kissing their fathers goodnight. An audience member understandably took the hump at this and demanded an explanation but was instead treated a lengthy, wordy and utterly impenetrable academic tract about culture and a bunch of stuff I couldn’t really work out. That pretty much spelt out the shape of things to come and after yet more interminability on the foreign aid question she made ready for a coup de grace concerning Libya. The question had originally been about whether the rape allegations warrant sending in ground troops, but it was the ‘rape’ bit that Greer homed in on and what came next was utterly bizarre. First of all she stated that “rape is always present with slaughter” a point I largely agree with but then it got weird as she started ranting about why the Libyan soldiers need Viagra to rape (as well as mentioning the word ‘fiat’ again) before demanding that they be given loads of the stuff as our troops would rape everyone anyway.

 

W

 

T

 

F

 

?

 

So Greer certainly set the bar high for crazy but at least she had a worthy challenger in the shape of Peter Hitchens. By rights, I should hate Hitchens, embodying as he does pretty much the purest form right wingery that runs completely contrary to my own political tastes but I must admit that I do have a certain level of grudging respect for him as at least he seems to think about stuff a little, unlike Melanie Phillips who simply has a direct link between that megacity of irrationality that lives in her skull and her mouth. Anyhoo, it all started standard enough with Hitchens adopting the Anti-Everything line on the Archbishop question (he hates Williams, hates Cameron, hates the Libs and most probably hates you) but it was in on the sexualisation question that he really got going, denouncing sex education and labelling it as “propaganda for promiscuity”. That really got the audience wound up but he wasn’t through with them by a long shot and went on to accuse them of actually wanting to sexualise kids. Brave move Pete, brave move. He managed to wind it back in briefly when it came to the aid question (although his reference to “teaching Africans to dance” was a little…odd) but what happened next was quite the sight to behold.

 

It started when a young, well-spoken audience member with ginger hair got a go on the mic and in her best ‘Dear Sir, Imagine my concern’ voice tried to set up a fairly ropy ambush. Following a slightly annoying “in my gap year” preamble she then went on to ask if Hitchens had ever been to a developing country in the hope he’d say ‘no’ and look like a right stuffy old pillock. Unfortunately, she didn’t contend with the fact that Hitchens is one of those rare commentators who actually bothers to bone up about the subjects of his blatherings and was right back at her with a “Yes. Loads. Somalia for one.”. That really knocked the wind out of her sails and she had to resort to a not entirely appropriate outburst of “LET ME FINISH!” before waffling on about Nepal. According to the crowd, her little turn was a triumph but I’m afraid I have to disagree with that assessment. She got pwnd. By Hitchens. That has to suck.

 

Given the above, you’d expect the rest of the audience to be shying away from prodding Hitchens in future but a little later on another member of the crowd got a similar taste of the PH Treatment after trying to make the point that Libya looked like a just war. “You’re about the right age” said Peter, “Go ahead, sign up.”. BOOM!I have to admit that was pretty cool and even the otherwise unapproving audience also had to agree.

 

All of which pretty well sums up Hitchens: His ideas range from the abhorrent to the plain old barking but he’s a tough cookie who gives as good as he gets and doesn’t care who he tangles with. As howlingly mad as he is, I have to doff my cap to the fact that he’s very good at being howling mad and he certainly makes a better fist of it than Greer does. Were he ever to end up on my caseload, I think I would be quietly pleased.

 

That’s the panel done so on to the audience and I must confess that this lot really were an odd bunch who may or may not have had complete control of their faculties. For one, the applause/heckles were all over the place and at times seemed to be divvied up on a completely random basis. Crowd member gets too big for her boots and gets mauled by Hitchens? Everyone goes nuts and the girl’s a hero! Mitchel makes a well-reasoned yet passionate appeal to the benefits of foreign aid? Tumbleweed. However, I can forgive them this as Greer and Hitchens had already made the atmosphere so weird that it became less of a topical current affairs show and more of a bad acid flashback. The other thing I picked up was that although the crowd seemed fairly even split in terms of ‘for’ and ‘against’ the coalition, you could sense real anger in the room and that seems to tally with the felling in the country in general. So far, the recession has unfolded as thus:

 

1. Headless Chicken Phase: Lehman’s goes under, the world and his wife predict imminent apocalypse, people get in flap yet life in the real world continues apace.

 

2. Impending Doom Phase: Osborne delivers Comprehensive Spending Review, people predict imminent apocalypse, some start losing their job’s and life starts getting harder but is still relatively normal.

 

That’s what’s happened so far, but right now we’re about go into the third phase, the Actual Doom phase where all the nasty stuff that was in the CSR starts to feed through to everyday life and shit gets real. It’s taken two and a half years to get here (two and a half years where every news bulletin is telling us that we only have minutes before we’re all destitute) and I must say it’s been a surreal experience: You know you’re angry, you know that a bunch of insanely rich people have just seriously screwed your life up, yet the actual evidence on the ground doesn’t tally up with the vision of desolation that you see in your mind’s eye and it leaves you feeling rather discombobulated. Well, the good news is that pretty soon that feeling of discombobulation will be a thing of the past as we’ll all have plenty of actual, tangible and real stuff to be angry about (which is, as you’ve probably guessed, the bad news). In essence, this is where the actual recession begins for the bulk of the population, with everything up to now being little more than a phoney war. Now, somewhere in the frenzied nightmare that was this episode I could sense that feeling beginning to bubble up. It’s not that people are angry as people (myself included) have been angry from the start of the crash but I got the feeling that the anger is now taking on form and direction and as soon as the real world starts to tally up with that bleak portrait of the future we’ve all been gazing at for the last two and a half years, the coalition will be in trouble. In short, things are about to kick off.

 

Oh, and just before we finish up on the crowd, the Best Name of the Series So Far Award goes to Jodie Shanahan-Prendagast. Stirling work there sir.

 

Tl;dr

 

Mitchell: Natty

6/10

 

Clarke: Fatty

5/10

 

Swinson: Chatty

5/10

 

Greer: Ratty

3/10

 

Hitchins: Batty

6/10

 

The Crowd: Scatty

5/10

 

 

Ok, we’re done. Since I started writing this, the BT man has been so I now have the internet and by rights, I should be beavering away, scouring Google Images for fresh material with which to further distress my victims but you know what? I’m not going to do that. I’ve got 35mb line, a Steam account full of all sorts of chostiness and a fridge full of beer. Nope, tonight I pick up my love affair with online gaming where we left off and to hell with the pshops! This is our time!

 

Next week, Lemmings… Next week…

Loudribs Transitionary Corner #1


 

Morning Lemmings and boo-hoo, no Post Question Time Match Report for you today. Unfortunately for you guys, I’m in the process of moving which means that my life is even more chaotic than usual and that I’m pretty much without internet right now (I’ve had to hike back to my old address to post this and I really didn’t fancy repeat trips to score shonky jpegs with which to ridicule the panel). However it’s not all bad news. Hopefully by this time next week, not only will I will be watching QT in my new house, I’ll be watching QT in HD thanks to my new Freesat box. I hope Farage is on. I’d love to see the otherwise invisible droplets of crazy seep out of his pores in full, resplendent 1080p. Ixnay on the John Sergeant though… I don’t think my eyes are ready for that.

 

(Hopefully) next week Lemmings, next week…


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