Good morning Lemmings and please try to bear with me as I attempt to rearrange the whirlpool of annoyance, vexation and ill will that’s currently spinning in my head into something comprehensible. You see, I try – Lord knows I try – to keep Questionable Time at least a little bit objective and usually I do an OK-ish job. For instance, remember when I gave Melanie Phillips the highest marks on a show simply because whatever nonsense she was flapping her gums about was more entertaining than the sub-par dross everyone else was coming out with? Well, that was me trying to be ‘objective’: I can’t stand Phillips but at least she managed to keep me vaguely entertained. Alas, I think I’m going to have to check any sense of reasonableness at the door today because I simply can’t abide John Lydon and despite straining every fibre of compassion in my body I just can’t find anything good to say about the man. And why is this? Let us count the ways:
It’s all about bloody John.
Let’s just briefly set aside the standard charge sheet of this self-styled ‘solid working class lad’ (as opposed to a “middle class twat from Tring”) who is beholden to no one yet finds the time to advertise butter and marry wealthy heiresses, to see if we can’t actually figure out what he said last night: Struggling? Me too and that’s because he doesn’t actually say much. Instead he just oozes a sort of malevolent animosity towards anyone and anything that isn’t John Lydon. Ok, so the points that he did make semi-coherently were that he doesn’t much like politicians, is no fan of bankers and apparently likes taking drugs. I don’t have a problem with any of these views but I do have a problem with the way he frames them: These people/things are good/bad because I say they’re good/bad and if you’re in the market for reasons as to why I hate/love them then you are out of luck. Not only that, but in John Lydon’s eyes, John Lydon’s opinion takes primacy over that of anyone else’s. You’ve got something to say that might contradict my world view? Well how about you try saying it as I talk all over you, butt in and disparage your existence with a sneer, buddy! The good news is that he ran out of road on that front pretty quickly and by the end almost everyone was telling him to shut up but still, it’s a horrible way of making a point. What’s even worse is that I somewhat agree with him on the drugs issue but he totally squandered any capital he might have accrued in that department by making it personal between himself and Louise Mensch. And why did he do that? Because it’s all about bloody John.
That drawl… I can’t… Even… Arrrrghhhh!
Seriously, is it just me or is Lydon’s vocal inflection the sonic equivalent of rubbing a cheese grater against your face?
“The left and right are both co-neck-tiiiiiiid”
Gah! Just stop already! It’s too much! Oh, and one other thing… The Bill Grundy Show was 36 years ago and since then calling people “shits” has lost a little of its shock value. Just saying John, just saying…
The Bottom Line: John Lydon is a creature.
Not only that, but he is a creature created by another man (the late Malcolm McLaren) and then foisted on the world in a horribly cynical and successful attempt to enrich the creator. In that respect I do have a little sympathy for Lydon: His destiny was never his own and he’s just playing out a role assigned to him by someone who saw the The Manchurian Candidate as less of a cautionary tale and more of a blueprint for commercial success. However, this does not excuse the not wearing of a shirt. John, if you’re feeling a little too hot, why not take off the cocking bomber jacket?
Enough. If I carry on with this I’m going to do myself a mischief.
Confession time: I think I’m actually growing to quite like Louise Mensch.
In the general scheme of things Louise Mensch should really annoy me: She has a tendency to get very shrill, has a habit of over-playing the righteous indignation card a little too often and her skin looks like it’s been applied by a process not dissimilar to vacuum forming. However I must confess that I was actually quite impressed with her last night, largely because she has a mind of her own. Sure, she’s a backbencher with numerous irons in the fire which gives her an advantage over her ministerial colleagues but I will say this: She didn’t need to bring up her Class-A drug use last night and although I have a slight suspicion that she did it to head off anyone else at the pass it was still quite a gutsy move. I was also impressed by her pouring of cold water on the citizenship test and the fact that she held her own against the very seasoned Alan Johnson is also to her credit. So yes, Mensch’s stock is on the rise in my book, not withstanding the fact that she keeps some very dodgy company.
And the rest of ’em?
Assuming you managed to see beyond the Lydon induced red mist (and God knows that was difficult) you may have noticed the presence of three other people. Their performance can be summed up thusly:
- Alan Johnson proved once again that being a Generally Nice Bloke is a potent political weapon that is extremely difficult to counter. Granted, it’s always a little jarring when the Generally Nice Bloke mask slips momentarily (which it always does when anyone brings up the sacking of Prof. David Nutt) but taken as a whole he did very well. Alas, his being on Question Time meant that he wasn’t available for a shirt-off with Portillo on This Week but I’ve done my best to recreate the experience (see Fig. 1… There’s also a Questionable Time sticker in it for anyone who can tell me where the shirts originally came from. Answers in the comments please).
- Ed Davey once again proved that trying to portray yourself as a Generally Good Egg is only a partially successful strategy and one that’s liable to be eclipsed by the Generally Nice Bloke. There’s no shame in it, it’s just not that exciting.
- Poor old Dominic Lawson gets the lion’s share of my sympathy this week as he had some genuinely interesting stuff to say but was largely drowned out by The John Lydon Show. Hard luck there Dominic… Come back again when the show is less twatty.
- And finally The Crowd… They deserve praise for putting Lydon in his place and also for being generally seditious. I love it when people from Derbyshire get all hot under the collar because their accent simply isn’t capable of conveying anger. Comical Annoyance, yes. Furious Wrath, no.
(Deserves a) Pat (on the back)
(Is a full) Fat (politician)
(Was a bit) Flat
(Was unfortunately) Sat (on the sidelines).
(Is a total) Twat
The Crowd: 7/10
(Were more gloss than) Matte.
So that’s that: A racy little number marred only by the second 1/10 I’ve ever had to give out (I thought about giving him a zero and then stopped dead in my tracks…. That’s exactly what John Lydon would want me to do!). Alas, it was the last in the series so you guys are just going to have to get through this ‘summer’ without me. Still, many thanks for reading and hopefully Questionable Time should be back in September while John Lydon should be back in California, smoking his duty frees and annoying someone else. We can but hope.
Next September Lemmings, next September…
P.S. Thanks to the kind people at the #BBCQT Watchalong for their help this week. Much appreciated.