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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