Archive for November, 2012

Questionable Time #44


questionable time 44 david dimbleby ASCII dot matrix capped

Good morning Lemmings and if – like me – you’re feeling a little over-inquiried after being exposed to dangerous levels of Leveson then I have some bad news: You’re about to get yet another hefty dose. That’s right, Question Time has taken it upon itself to get a little giddy with all things pressy and regulatory so you will find no respite, no safe harbour and no refuge from the tireless onslaught of quasi-judicial developments here. I will, however, try to make the whole experience as painless as possible. I am nothing if not merciful.

I never thought I’d see the day when Charlotte Church would say ‘statutory underpinning’, let alone say it three times in under a minute…

First off, where the hell has this phrase appeared from? It sounds like the sort of thing Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs fame gleefully warns people five minutes after it’s gone catastrophically wrong (“Oh, I see you decided to do the statutory underpinning yourself. Yes, it’s a bugger isn’t it? Have fun clearing the rubble! Tra-la-la!”) and right now everyone is banging on about it so much that I keep thinking I should get a survey done just in case. Anyway, as the heading suggests, Charlotte Church is deeply into statutory underpinning and I must confess that she actually made a pretty good go of getting me into it as last night progressed. Now, some of this is down to me feeling a little guilty for indulging in some pre-QT snobbery – in my defence I had only just learned of Church’s efforts to rebrand herself as a ‘serious’ indie artist – but mainly it was because she made a very good case for the prosecution during the Leveson section of the show whilst knowing when to fold on questions that weren’t quite as relevant later on.

However, the real kicker came about halfway through when an innocuous looking lady of advancing years decided to scold Chris Bryant for being “a young man with little experience”. ‘Hello,’ I thought ‘we’ve got a live one here’. She went on to explain that while it was terrible that people like the Dowler’s had been caught up in all phone hacking skullduggery, celebs pretty much had it coming. Church, to her credit, very politely interjected with a heartfelt story about the appalling treatment her mother had suffered at the hands of the News of the World and I thought that would be the end of it. Sadly, it was not and the seemingly sweet old lady shot back with this corker: “Stronger people would have weathered that storm better”. Charlotte, you get an extra mark for not physically showing her the door.

Patrick McLoughlin was a busted flush…

I had high hopes for this guy. I mean c’mon, how often do you get a panelist who’s not only an ex-member of the NUM but a Tory frontbencher as well? That’s like a member of Slayer jacking in the thrash metal to lay down some mortgage rock with Keane. Anyway, I thought that this fish-out-of-water background would be a rich seam to mine but alas, we never got beyond the spectacle of him not really knowing what was going on. It all hinged on 3.15pm and Cameron’s ‘crossing the Rubicon’ comments, a matter that McLoughlin appeared uniquely ill-equipped to deal with. First came evasion and then bluster, a development that was not lost on the ever-predatory Chris Bryant who swiftly moved in to badger him to death. That was it. He was done by half time and we have yet to see the man behind all the flapping. Maybe next time Patrick… Maybe…

Neil Wallis looked a damn sight better than he did the night before…

I caught Newsnight on Wednesday and was presented with a picture of what can only be described as a broken man. There was Wallis, slumped and knackered, awaiting the inevitability of his fate while Paxo circled lazily, toying with him before gorging on what remained of his blackened soul. Yet fast-forward 24 hours and what have we got? A surprisingly chipper Neil Wallis who would very much like us to know that the press have this all under control. Yup, all that phone hacking and whatnot, it was a bit sketchy but hey, at least we’re not MP’s so don’t you go worrying your sweet bippy. Nice try Neil, nice try… Now here’s a photo of him getting thoroughly Churched (see Fig. 1).

neil wallis charlotte church

I still love watching Chris Bryant…

Should I ever become unfeasibly rich, I would very much like to hire Chris Bryant for a year before purchasing several hundred square miles of tropical rainforest and releasing him in it with nothing more than a pair of Y-fronts. That sounds like the sort of treatment you’d reserve for your worst enemy but in this case you couldn’t be further from the truth. Why? Because there’s something about Bryant that makes me believe he’d thrive in a Darwinian battle of annihilation and that he’d soon come to treat his year in my pay as a liberation of sorts. Maybe it’s the way that those eyes are constantly scanning for weakness, maybe it’s the way he relentlessly chases every point, maybe it’s the way he views other panelists as if they were prey to be hunted, I’m not sure. Whatever it is though, it’s very compelling and adds that much-needed whiff of instinctual brutality to the QT mix, all of which scores points in my book.

Jenko is Intentionally Difficult…

There are two types of people in this world, the Unintentionally Difficult and the Intentionally Difficult. The Unintentionally Difficult are the ones who slowly suck all the colour out of the world with their flaky-yet-plausible excuses, aversions to things you like and passive-aggressive fence-sitting. Basically, they’re jerks who gum up the wheels of life with a mixture of good intentions and fear of conflict. Simon Jenkins though, well he’s cut from a different cloth and it’s an Intentionally Difficult cloth. Now, that sounds like a bad thing and sometimes it is – like when David Starkey picks a meaningless fight just so he can perform a panto swoon followed by a sustained bout of faux indignation – but in the case of Jenkins it’s not. And why would that be? Because he’s so assured of the veracity of whatever difficult viewpoint he’s taking that you just kind of have to accept it and carry on. Sure, you can argue with him, you can try to point out the flaws in his argument but you won’t win because Simon Jenkins cares not for your trifling concerns. No, all Jenko cares about is not agreeing wholeheartedly with anyone and that’s actually not such a bad thing. Say what you will about the Intentionally Difficult, at least they add a slug of vodka to the lemonade of life.

Tl:dr

Church: 7/10

Yay

McLouglin: 4/10

Neigh

Wallis: 4/10

(Should really go) Away (for a while)

Bryant: 6/10

(Did) Prey (remorseless on McLoughlin)

Jenkins: 6/10

(Couldn’t give a monkey’s as to what you’ve got to) Say

The Crowd: 5/10

(Are heavily invested in the) Nikkei?

So, a pretty even spread of marks for a fairly evenly spread episode. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go and check on my statutory underpinning.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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Questionable Time #43


questionable time 43 david dimbleby andy warhol

Good morning Lemmings and welcome to a very heavyweight line-up for this week’s Questionable Time. That’s right, after shilly-shallying about with the likes of Munt and MacLennan in last week’s episode we’re now back in the major leagues again. You want the Shadow Home Secretary? Done! How about Britain’s foremost Angry Young Man? Bang! Here’s Owen Jones! Maybe a former party leader? Shutuppayourface, here’s two! A suitably grand sounding venue? I see your generic location name and raise you a goddamn palace! And of course there’s Deborah Meaden. Oh.

Anyway, sky-high expectations aside, bitter experience has shown that a solid panel does not necessarily a good show make. Could this robust sounding blueprint for QT heaven deliver on its promise? Well let’s just see about that…

I think I’m one step closer to cracking the riddle of IDS…

There are a great many things that vex me about IDS but one has been particularly bothering me of late: How did he ever survive as a junior officer in the Scots Guards? I ask this because the Scots Guards and IDS just seem like two things that should never really go together. Here you have – on the one hand – a man whose face is always contorted somewhere between self-doubt, uncertainty and a very terrible appreciation of his own awkwardness whilst on the other we have not just an infantry regiment, but one of the stuffiest and ritualistic outfits in an organisation that prides itself on engineering situations that freak out the socially awkward. It just struck me as very odd and I often wondered how 1st Lt. Duncan Smith – with that face of his so visibly playing out some horrible conflict within his soul – could convince a bunch of hard-bitten enlisted men of why they should listen to him, let alone follow his orders.

Well dear Lemmings, now we know. He’s a classic Long Fuse/Big Bomb and last night was the perfect illustration of this. To begin with, he actually had quite a good ride, doing his best to escape unscathed on female bishops and the EU whilst actually coming across as quite thoughtful at points. However, there was something niggling him and that something was Owen Jones, what with all his voting prisoners and disestablished churches. ‘Troublemaker!’ said IDS’s face, but he managed to bite his lip and generally keep a lid on his growing sense of unease. Then the question about the proposed benefits cap came up and everything went mental.

In the general scheme of thing’s, IDS first response, a semi-rousing ‘It Just Isn’t Fair’, wasn’t bad but he was comprehensively out-roused by Jones’ crushing ‘You’re Damn Right It Just Isn’t Fair’ counter punch. Throw into that some sustained heckling that made Dimbers very cross and you could see it all getting just a bit too much for him. “HOLD ON YOU!” he bellowed, his face now a picture indignant certainty… and then it ended. Time’s up.

So yes, we didn’t get to see the full explosion (oh for another five minutes) but the early indicators were pretty telling. And that is how I reckon IDS survived in the Scots Guards: He’d take the ‘Kick Me’ signs, the backchat and name calling up to a point, but when that point was reached, boy did everybody know about it.

I’d love to shower Owen Jones with praise but jealousy prevents it…

If only I hadn’t spent the best part of my twenties looking like “a homeless wizard”, trying to drive ice cream vans into pedestrians on Grand Theft Auto and being sick in nightclub toilets then maybe, just maybe, I could have been some sort of proto-Owen Jones. Except that I didn’t and given that being Owen Jones seems to involve a level of passion, relevance and good-lookingness that I’d have great difficulty in summoning I guess I’ll just have to settle for what I’ve got. I’d totally beat him at any computer game though. Name your platform Owen, you will not win.

Yvette doesn’t ride for free today…

I usually go easy on Yvette, mainly because she has a lot to put up with. As Labour’s Appropriate Adult, she’s the one who gets dragged out to straighten out whatever unholy mess they’ve found themselves in and you can tell by that faint whiff of exacerbation she always carries that it’s got to her over time. However, she got so rattle by the matter of why Labour voted for the EU budget cut that she started talking really fast and getting a little over-eager with the maxim ‘the best form of defence is offence’, none of which peels my spuds. That, and I’m getting really fed up with Labour panelist trying to shoehorn ‘The Squeezed Middle’ and ‘One Nation’ into every damn sentence. Having said that ‘The One Middle’ or ‘Squeezed Nation’ would make perfectly serviceable boy bad names.

Chat Show Charlie may just be losing his magic…

I have a dream. It’s a bit of a weird dream but bear with me. I’d love to lie on my sofa, with my head in Charles Kennedy’s lap as he tenderly stroked my hair and told me that everything was going to be alright. Thanks to the terrifying power of Photoshop, that disturbing dream is now an even more disturbing reality, but enough of these things (see Fig. 1). Anyway, it’s that wonderful Soda-Stream of a voice he’s got, that voice that gurgles away all the bad in the world. Unfortunately, I am beginning to notice that while his voice is undeniably soothing, it is increasingly saying less and less whilst doing so in quite a round-the-houses manner. So c’mon Charlie, I know it’s hard adjusting to a world where the Yellow Team can’t look themselves in the mirror but that’s the way it is and dulcet tones alone won’t sustain me any more.

charles kennedy loudribs head in lap sofa

Fig. 1

I shouldn’t have been rude about Deborah Meaden in the first paragraph…

Ok, I confess. I thought that Meadan was going to be your standard I’m An Entrepeneur And There’s Nothing That Can’t Be Solved With A Tax Cut but she was actually really good and, shock horror, balanced. Granted, our views differ but at least she has views that aren’t exclusively dictated by a fear of red tape and NI contributions. Deborah, you have my apologies.

Tl;dr

IDS: 5/10

Ticking (like a bomb)

Cooper: 5/10

Picking (one too many fights for my liking)

Kennedy: 5/10

(Is welcome to stroke my hair but I draw the line at) Licking

Jones: 8/10

(Gave everyone a right good) Kicking

Meaden: 7/10

(Has been) Tricking (me into thinking she’d be rubbish when she was actually great)

The Crowd: 7/10

(Weren’t) Dicking (around)?

Well, there you have it: A slow start that gradually built into a head of total chaos. And that’s just fine with me…

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #42


Good morning Lemmings and welcome to Corby, a town that I recently discovered has absolutely nothing to do with trouser presses but does harbour an enormous amount of Scottish people. Who knew? Anyway, the other big thing about Corby is that it’s a classic bellweather constituency that happens to be holding a Mensch induced by-election. Now, conventional QT wisdom would suggest that this would make for a solid show, one riven with partisan bile and political rowdyism but somehow that just didn’t happen last night. Here’s why.

Chris Grayling was surprisingly tolerable…

He’s been an irksome thing of late has Grayling. It’s not the fact that he does the whole puff-chested, ‘Tuff On Crims’ thing – I expect that from Tory Justice Ministers who aren’t Ken Clarke – it’s because he seems to enjoy it so much and that gives him quite an unpleasant edge. However, I’ve got to say that he really didn’t wind me up that much last night and that’s mainly because the questions were a bit duff. With the exception of the obligatory Who Will Win The By-Election question (in which he put in a reasonable effort at damage control), the rest of them concerned matters where there isn’t a huge gulf between the parties. Sure, minor blows were traded on matters pertaining to paedophiles, Abu Hamza and Israel but there was no great set-piece where he had the opportunity to really wind me up. That’s a problem because I need a baddy in my QT line-up just like I need Ride of the Valkyries as my alarm clock tone: It’s not that I particularly like either Wagner or waking up, it’s that at least the combination of the two give the otherwise mundane an air of drama. Grayling was my best shot for a baddy last night and on that front he failed. However, I suppose I can take solace in the fact that he appeared a little slippery when questioned about why he didn’t frequent Starbucks. “I don’t like coffee” came the just-too-quick response. Slippery. Like his head. His big, baked bean of a head (see Fig. 1).

chris grayling baked bean

Fig. 1

I almost ended up making Harriet Harman a cup of tea…

There are some constants in this world like cycle of life and death, the turning of the seasons and automatically flicking over the channel whenever you hear The One Show theme. Harriet Harman appearing on QT is one of those constants and it’s now so routine that when I went to the fridge for another beer I caught myself saying “Can I get you anything Harriet?” out loud. So yes, this was another problem as every time she started talking I just sort of phased out and nodded along politely, like you do when a friend tells you a long and involved story that you’ve heard a million times before. It’s not that it’s a bad story, nor can I find particular fault with her recounting of it, but seriously Harriet, we need to spice things up a little. How about going on I’m a Celeb? At least it’d give Dimbers another excuse to talk about “eating testicles”.

I didn’t feel fully Faraged by the end of play…

Here he is, my forbidden fruit, my furtive fumble in the dark, my sordid little crush. Yes, Nigel’s back for those who are not aware, I have all the time in the world for the UKIP leader. It’s not his politics – I find them to be little more than drunken scrawlings on the political toilet wall – it’s the fact that he seems never more than two steps away from slipping on a banana skin that he himself just dropped. With this in mind, I can’t help feeling a little short-changed by last night’s show. Fair enough, he did come across as quite potty when he started yelling “THAT’S HOW IT WORKS” as he desperately tried to frame Europe as the source of all tax avoidance but he could have gone so much further. In fact, my dream scenario was that he’d get so giddy about UKIP’s frighteningly good prospects in the Corby by-election that he’d prematurely call the whole deal an outright win for the Red, White and Blue Team before spending the next couple of years living down endless VT footage of him erroneously bellowing ‘IT STARTED HERE, IN CORBY!’. Alas, it was not to be and while he was quite mad, he could have been madder. Dammit UKIP, you’ve really got to stop with all this We Might Actually End Up Being Something Resembling An Actual Political Party business. It’s getting scary.

Tessa Munt has a way to go…

I usually give out good marks for talking slowly as it makes a nice change from the usual frenetic babbling whilst also fostering a feeling of solidity and trustworthiness. Unfortunately, Tessa Munt took the whole slow talking thing just a little too far and found herself deep within Playing For Time territory. The paedophile question was particularly instructive in this instance: She embarked on what looked like a nice little warm-up about how she’d been talking to some lad about something or other and there was a moment where she could have segued seamlessly into an actual point… Except she didn’t. Instead, she just kept going and going, eventually ending up exploring all the permutations of how children and adults could do violence to one another. The feeling I was left with was ‘you don’t really have a point, do you?’. Still, great name. Munt. Muuuuuuuuunt.

Moray MacLennan could use a hobby…

What’s with all the 5th panelists they trawl on from the world of business, finance and, in this case, advertising? They all seem so consumed by the game they’re in that I want to grab them by the lapels and yell “WHY NOT JUST STAY IN AND WATCH CRAP TV ONCE IN A WHILE?!?!” Alright, MacLennan does have a sick note in this department as the subjects of the corporate tax question happened to be his clients (Google and Amazon) but still, when he started going about ‘value crystalising’ and ‘the customer experience’ I honestly thought he was going to whip out a PowerPoint presentation and talk us through some focus group findings. Except that he’s the sort of jagged looking advertising guy who wouldn’t use Power Point. He’d use whatever the Apple version is. iDon’tTheseGraphsLookEdgy or something.

Tl;dr

Grayling: 5/10

(Looks a little like a baked) Bean

Harman: 5/10

(Has been on Question Time since I was about) Seventeen

Munt: 3/10

(Could use a little) Caffeine

Farage: 6/10

(Should never be allowed near) Gasoline

MacLennan: 4/10

(Probably talks about work in the) Canteen

The Crowd: 6/10

(Regress towards the) Mean?

 

So damn and blast, this episode felt like a missed trick. It had a baddy, it had a wildcard and the crowd were certainly willing but somehow all these things just failed to come together. That, and I’m still reeling from the trouser press revelation.

 

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #41


questionable time 41 david dimbleby bexhill on sea

Good morning Lemmings and what’s that I I smell? Fish and chips? Invigoratingly salty air? Old people and a strong Tory vote? We must be on the South Coast! So yes, it’s Bexhill-on-Sea this week and it’s a rather timely turn of events since we haven’t been to a Conservative stronghold since the last run of QT. Considering that the Blue Team vote has only twice dipped below 50% twice in Bexhilll’s and Battle’s 29 year history, this seems as good a place as any to redress the balance. Anyhow, enough prattle, on with the show.

Damian Green has the best I’m Somewhat Confused face ever…

We first got to witness this thing of beauty when David Blanchflower was laying his economic charge sheet at the feet of the government early on in the show. Now usually, politicians do the scrunched up Come Off It Mate face when someone cleverer than them starts picking holes in their nefarious schemes (in fact George Osborne does it all the time, to everyone, regardless of the situation) and I suspect that’s what Green was trying to do. However, something went wrong along the way and he ended up with the sort of pained expression you’d get if you a) tried to work out whether the cat in Schrödinger’s box is dead or alive, b) what exactly the lyrics ‘What is love? Baby don’t hurt me’ actually mean and c) why the alien invasion fleet in Independence Day were running Windows 95, all whilst faintly remembering that you might have left the gas on.

And it didn’t stop there. Despite a genuinely good joke about voting to keep Nadine Dorries in IACGMOOH it all came apart again when the matter of the PCC elections came up, except this time he actually had to talk as well. It went like this: Chuka Umunna made a point about how the money for the PCC elections would be better spent on actual policing and Green’s face lit up. ‘Ah-ha!’ it said, ‘I have you now!’. The money – according to Green – wouldn’t come from the policing budget and he visibly relaxed, safe in the knowledge that he’d dodged a bullet. Unfortunately, Dimbers rather unhelpfully interjected and asked just where it would be coming from. “The Home Office” he quietly spluttered. Well, that was it, everyone wanted a piece of him and he spent the next five minutes all over the place as he fended off blows from all directions. At this point, I did feel a little pang of sympathy as it was starting to look a little brutal but then I remembered that I have absolutely no idea who the PCC candidates are in my neck of the woods and that and the entire wheeze sounds like a huxter’s charter. My sympathy soon spoiled its ballot.

I’m fairly sure that Shirley Williams will outlive me…

Don’t panic, I’m not planning on a premature exit or expecting to die outside of the usual time frame, it’s just I have trouble envisaging what exactly could kill Shirley Williams. A speeding car? No, she would stare it down until its axles fractured and bearings crumbled. A disease of the body? Mother Nature is no match for the solidity of her 20th century values. Then how about the assassin’s callous blade? Well let me put it this way: Would you try to assassinate Shirley Williams? No, of course not, partly because your soul will have curdled if you ever got to that point but mostly because it’s clear that Shirley Williams will not quietly into the night. 82, Lemmings. Shirley Williams is 82.

Chuka Umanna does strange things to me…

I’m a straight man, but I have to admit that one look at Chuka and I go slightly weak at the knees – it’s like he’s been lovingly crafted out of pure unicorn’s tears by Christ himself or something. However, this in itself is a problem as I have an overpowering and automatic distrust of people who are ridiculously good-looking. Call it jealously, call it pettiness, call it want you want, I’m just very suspicious of things that look too good to be true. Having said that, he had a good night and it would be truly petty of me to say otherwise. Alright, so his dogged perusal of a single line of attack (‘bring ALL the things back to the Tory’s record on the economy!’) looks a little threadbare after a full hour but he was right on point for the bulk of the night. Considering that Bexhill-on-Sea really shouldn’t be his turf, that’s good going.

And the others?

I like David Blanchflower but sometimes he doesn’t make it easy for me. Generally speaking, I think he’s been one of the few economists who has broadly called most things right and I’ll always have time for his opinion. The thing is that when he writes about those opinions it’s a really disconcerting experience as he always starts his columns with a little round-up of what he’s been up to. They tend to look something like this: ‘Had lovely day, played golf, went out on a boat, THE WORLD IS GOING TO END IF WE DON’T INJECT MORE MONEY INTO THE ECONOMY’. It’s a just a little jarring. Anyway, he’s much better in person, even if he did try to shoehorn his American residency into the conversation in the hope that it could lead to a nice little recounting of his leisure time.

Conversely, I don’t like Jane Moore and I’m struggling to find a reason why that should change. Granted, she didn’t look as grumpy as she usually does last night (see Fig. 1) and she got a couple of good gags in (the one about Nadine Dorries claiming for a second home in Australia draw a genuine chuckle from me) but I just get a little riled when Moore tries to bring everything back to real dog whistle stuff (like that massive tangent she went on about sex offenders getting cautions during the PCC question). That, and she’s very right when she says “I am not an economist”.

things-that-make-jane-moore-grumpy-gif

Fig. 1

Tl’dr

Green: 4/10

(Looked) Pained

Umunna: 6/10

Remained (ridiculously good-looking)

Williams: 7/10

Maintained (an iron will to confound nature itself)

Blanchflower: 6/10

Refrained (from telling us what he’s been up to)

Moore: 4/10

Sustained (an air of iffiness)

The Crowd: 6/10

(Have all been) Ordained

So there we are, a so-so affair in which Phillip Schofield experienced the combined wrath of everybody. Now, just before I go I’d like to point you in the direction of a University of Cambridge project called ‘Voting Time’. They appear to be something scarily brainy with people’s QT opinions so if you have a minute, please check ’em out.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #40


questionable time 40 david dimbleby statue of liberty

Good morning Lemmings and just who the devil are these people, swanning around with their fancy accents and elevated levels of dental hygiene? Ah, I see, they appear to be American’s which would sort of make sense seeing as they’re having an election next week. Quite what this has to do with the good people of London I do not know and I must confess that I’m a little upset that the wild rumours of Donald Trump appearing on the show have come to nothing but having said that, both me and my computer are counting our blessings now that we don’t have to cut out Trump’s hair in Photoshop. I mean c’mon, have you seen that thing? That’s a task of such magnitude and absurdity that it may well have driven us both to destruction. Anyway, enough… On with the show.

I can still hear the longing cries of New Labour romantics ringing in my ears…

So here he is, the Miliband You Could Have Won, the Slightly Better Looking Brother who still clearly has the capacity to make Blairites weak at the knees, the King Across the Sea. And how has his self-imposed exile been treating him? Rather well by all accounts. You see, the deal-breaker for me when Miliband D. was on the front line was this look he used to pull when someone caught him out. His face would momentarily harden, brows bearing down into a frown and teeth clenched as if to say ‘Well done buddy, you just made the list’. Granted, he’d stop short of pulling out a note pad marked ‘For Future Smiting’ but you could tell that he was deadly serious about it and did not like being made a monkey of. Luckily for him, it seems that a couple of years of bimbling around the edges of politics have served to mellow him out somewhat and what we saw last night was a man who’s still very potent at getting a message across but doesn’t seem as horribly consumed by the game as he once was.

My only real disappointment – apart from his getting away rather lightly with the matter of why exactly Labour traded principles for mischief on the Europe vote – was that I can’t help thinking Question Time missed a trick this week: They had David Miliband, they had Jerry Springer, all they need to do was wind up Dave about how his brother stitched him up before bringing on Ed at an opportune moment and leaving the two of them to duke it out. Should you have trouble envisaging this scenario then fear no for I have handily mocked it up using phototrickery. Behold Fig. 1.

Fig. 1

Speaking of Jerry Springer…

Fun fact: Back in 1999 I ended up in the audience of The Jerry Springer Show whilst visiting Chicago. It was all about transsexuals who were cheating on each other and although I have to admit that I wasn’t really convinced by the main event (not by the transsexuals you understand… They seemed pretty legit so far as I could tell. It was more the ‘cheating’ bit since they all seemed to get on rather well when they cut for breaks) I was totally sold on Springer himself. He just seemed to balance it all so well, letting you know that it was all bollocks whilst effortlessly signing you up at the same time. That was 13 years ago but I have to say he still comes across very much as he did and although he’s not quite as quick on his feet (not to mention his rather unsettling assertions that he will be dead in 20 years), he too has still very much got it. Alright, so the going was pretty easy for him, what with him being Obama Cheerleader-in-Chief in front of a crowd with a ravenous appetite for the hopey-changey stuff but even when he clearly he’s no idea what he was talking about he’s just got an infectious manner that carries you along with him.

My theory is this: Jerry Springer does well because he makes you feel like he’s letting you in on a secret. Other people do this too – Charles Kennedy is a good example – but Springer adds another layer of finesse to it by making it clear that in letting you to on this secret, he is somehow implicating himself at the same time. That’s a talent and one that works very well with British crowds. It’s almost enough to make you forgive him for being ultimately responsible for The Jeremy Kyle Show.

I got distracted by Kwasi’s voice…

Alright, I’ll level with you… Kwasi Kwarteng is not going to get a fair hearing because I noticed something that totally threw me early on in the show: Kwasi Kwarteng’s voice is exactly the same as Boris Johnson’s would be if you played it back slowly on an old tape deck or if you slipped him half a Valium. Seriously, the tone, the cadence, the accent, it’s all totally identical except that it’s two or three tones lower and a little slower. Well, I’m afraid that the voice thing did for me and whenever he opened his mouth I was unable to focus on anything else, other than the fact that he isn’t a fan of deficits. That said, Kwarteng didn’t appear to do too badly and he seems canny enough to play the I Am But A Lowly Backbencher card to stay out of any real trouble when needs be. That voice though… It’s totally uncanny.

I miss hating early/mid-2000’s Republicans…

It was all so simple back in the day: Bush was mad, everything was wrong and the cast of characters sent out by the US to serve notice on the rest of the world were so ludicrously unlikable that life was relatively easy to fathom. This doesn’t appear to be the case with Colleen Graffy as while I didn’t really agree with anything she said, at least she didn’t back it up with laser-guided munitions and teary-eyed renditions of The Star Spangled Banner. It’s progress I guess… In a way…

I can sleep easy tonight knowing that Shami Chakrabarti hasn’t come to a sticky end…

There was a time when I was having to write about Shami every other week (in fact, I was just waiting for the day when she’d fill the role of all five panelists simultaneously), but it seems those days are long gone. Maybe it’s because everyone’s got their knickers in a twist about the economy, maybe it’s because we’ve conveniently forgot that we’re a nation who are very much still at war where we probably shouldn’t be, whatever, Shami just seemed to recede into the background and I was getting a little worried: Did the Feds finally catch up with her? Was she wrongly detained by a Truancy Officer? I didn’t know and the suspense was killing me. Happily, I can now go to bed unmolested by concerns as it appears that she’s a) still very much alive and b) doing what she always did which is getting very passionate about stuff she cares about. And that’s just fine with me.

Tl;dr

Miliband: 7/10

(Appears more) Chilled

Kwarteng: 5/10

Filled (an hour adequately)

Springer: 7/10

Thrilled

Graffy: 5/10

Willed (Romney to win)

Chakrabarti: 6/10

(Hasn’t been) Killed

The Crowd: 6/10

(Would be able to breath underwater if they were) Gilled?

You know what? That was all rather fun, like a little holiday from the usual grind of domestic doom. We should do this again, say in four years time…

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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