Questionable Time #10


questionable time 10 david dimbleby sheepGood morning Lemmings and just how the bloody hell are you all? Now, if you happened to be taken unawares by such an uncharacteristically upbeat intro into what is normally a weekly venting of bile then hold on to your hats because there’s more where that came from: Yes Lemmings, I can officially announce that I am in a Good Mood today. Ok, ok, I know you guys don’t usually come to this corner of the internet for the good vibes (for they tend to be few) but I have awoken this morning with a song in my heart and a spring in my step. Why? Well maybe it’s down to the fact that I’ve got my first week off in what seems like forever coming up soon, maybe it’s because that after a month of hardware woes I’ve finally cajoled my PC into playing nicely with Battlefield 3 but largely I think it’s a consequence of last night’s episode being pretty a solid offering. Alright, so it wasn’t exactly an epic that will be remembered for generations to come but it was a sturdy encounter that went a fair way to making up for last week’s Snoozefest-upon-Tyne.

I guess the first reason why I found this episode quietly pleasing was that both of the Westminster representatives present (the Blue Team’s ever-so-slightly spivvy Grant Shapps and the Red Team’s ever-so-slightly menacing Chris Bryant) were actually really well matched. Now, these two have a fair bit in common given that although relatively new to the scene, both have been putting in the QT hours of late and the pair of them are also proving to be have a certain aptitude for TV based knockabouts. In the case of Shapps this is largely down to the fact that he’s got quite a perky delivery that fits his youthful appearance without making him look like a complete n00b. He also seems to be quite normal for a Tory frontbencher and although he can get quite fired up on the entrepreneurial juices of Thatcherism (last night’s veneration of YTS schemes being a case in point), at least he’s largely untainted by the whiff of privilege that emanates from some of his fruitier colleagues. Bryant, by contrast, is a very different kettle of fish and while Shapp’s presentation speaks of a fairly straightforward life of steady progression, Bryant’s alludes to one of drama and struggle. Whatever these drama’s may have been (and given his backstory – a gay priest who left the clergy on account of his sexuality – there have probably been a few) they seem to have left him with an instinct-driven, predatory disposition that is fascinating to watch: You can see his eyes dart about, scanning the horizon for signs of weakness in foes or danger to his person whilst his posture always seems to be that of a cat waiting to pounce.

This is not to say that either are without their flaws though, what with Shapps still not able to quite shake off that lingering air of smugness that marred his last performance and Bryant’s repeated use of proforma anecdotes (they usually go something like this: Rhonda → Constituents → Issue at hand → Saw my Mum → Something bad happened) making for slightly jarring interludes, but on the whole it was largely satisfying to watch the upper hand to-and-from between them and in fairness to both they managed to keep the party political bits to an acceptable level of torridness. Good show chaps.

So that was all well and good but the real main event for me was Simon Jenkins, a man I have an inexplicable brain crush on. Here’s why:

  1. Simon Jenkins cares not two-hoots what either you, I or Christ himself thinks about anything. You’ve got an opinion? Bully for you. Simon Jenkins also has one and it’s forceful. His opinion is going to beat up your opinion and there’s nothing you can do about it.
  2. His face is terrifying in HD, what with all those gullies and crevices that look like they’ve been hewn by tiny glaciers. He also has the most threatening smile I’ve ever seen and one that’s permanently affixed to his fortress of a face. It’s the sort of smile that Killer Whales have just before they mess up some penguins.
  3. He has an entertaining tendency to suddenly blurt out so-crazy-that-they-just-might-work ideas like abolishing the armed forces in their entirety. The fact that they are so-crazy-they-definitely-won’t-work is neither here nor there, but just knowing that he can just pull these little gems from nowhere is entirely great (see Fig. 1)

 

simon-jenkins-david-dimbleby-kill-everyone-animated-gif

Fig. 1

Sadly, Jenkins didn’t call for Wales to be nuked off the face of the planet last night but he did put on a formidable display of wilful contrariness. Ban smoking in cars? Pah! How about I smoke you and then run you over in my car! Intervene in Syria? Get the hell outta here, yer bum! Build more wind farms? From my cold, dead hands I CAN KILL MY KIDS IF I WANT TO!

And that’s just fine in my book as although I usually disagree with Jenkins, I just really like the fact that he can’t even be bothered to pretend he cares what anyone else thinks. It’s pigheadedness, but in the best possible way.

The same, however, cannot be said for Will Hutton, a man who always has some very important news to deliver and cares desperately that we should care desperately about whatever that news is. As is usually the case, these dire warnings pertained to the economy and as is also usual, I think he’s right: I think we are completely stuffed if we carry on doing what we’re doing. But here’s the thing that separates Hutton from Jenkins: While I’m usually onboard with what he’s saying, I just can never seem to fully get behind him. It might be because he is so consumed (to the point where he jumps up and down in his seat) by these visions of despair that he does appear a little mad, it might be because he always looks like he’s wearing lip liner but there’s always just something in the way of me hitching my wagon to the Hutton train. Jenkins? He can come up with any old crap and I’ll happily lap it up but Hutton? I don’t know. Maybe next time he’s on he should just say “You know what guys? Everything’s going to be just fine.” and see where that gets him, but yes, I do find the cognitive dissonance that he leaves me experiencing to be quite perplexing.

Right, I was going to do the audience now but I’ve realised I’ve forgotten that Plaid’s Elin Jones was also on the panel last night. Truth be told, this is probably because it was quite a forgettable performance and what fragments I can remember largely revolve around her talking about Wales type things that have no bearing on my life. So yes, her appearance was of no great import and I now feel bad for constantly bitching about Elfyn Llwyd always being on the Welsh episodes. At least he has a memorable moustache.

So finally to the crowd and what a rum old bunch they were this week, cheering and booing in equal measure whilst still making the time to allow a few have-a-go heroes to get very hot under the collar (as exemplified by the gentlemen with hair made of straw who went on an entirely epic rant about Evil Monetarists). However, the most important thing that they taught me last night was this: Should I ever be invited to a fancy dress party in Aberystwyth I should not, repeat not, go dressed as a wind turbine (as I have always intended to, should the opportunity arise). Those people, they get a little crazy about the things. Almost as if they were… tilting… at windmills.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH, I’LL BE HERE ALL WEEK. ENJOY THE VEAL!

Tl;dr

Shapps: 7/10

Is a male…

Bryant: 7/10

Hit many a nail (on the head)…

Jenkins: 8/10

Blew a gale…

Hutton: 6/10

Set sail (on the Ship of Woe)…

Jones: 4/10

Pretty much failed…

The Crowd: 7/10

Are from Wales…

So there you go: A perfectly serviceable outing that whilst not blisteringly relevant was still entertaining and has put me in a buoyant mood. I’m a simple creature at heart…. All it takes to keep me happy is the spectacle of an angry rabble berating our elected representatives once a week. Granted, it’s not the most exotic vice but it’s a damn sight cheaper than crack.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

chris bryant david dimbleby

Apologies to Chris Bryant... I just couldn't help myself...

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