Questionable Time #78


Good…morrow, Lemmings!

As you may know, the webmaster is away this week. So, hello! I’m his stand-in, Elizabeth. He found me in a skip by the side of the road and offered me a job. Non-paying, of course. What do you think this is, the Financial Times?

First, let’s get the tragic news out of the way. Yes, as I’m sure you’re all aware by now, David Dimbleby has indeed gone and got himself a tattoo, in a fit of youthful rebelliousness. Now, I’m not bashing Dimbledore’s choice to get himself ‘inked’, as I believe the yoof say these days, if he so wishes. In fact, it suits the theme for this week’s episode, as he’ll fit in just splendidly with the disgruntled ex-shipbuilders now milling around in Portsmouth wailing and howling and cursing the Scots.

Oh! See what I did there? This leads us nicely on to the show itself! Gosh, it’s almost as if I planned that. Don’t worry though, it’s just a rumour that was spread around town.

Could you bring up some more tea, Davey?

I’ve noticed something about Ed Davey. It’s not just the fact that he looked hesitant, eager to ‘lay down’ some ‘proper disses’ on the energy companies but increasingly bereft because he’d never get his chance. It’s not just the fact that he stared off into space, blinking heavily, wishing with all his heart for BAE to be nice, to be gentle, looking permanently worried while twisting his pen back and forth in a somewhat heartbreaking way.

No. It’s the fact that he looks like Mr Molesley from Downton Abbey.

He has the same anxious air to him as well. I’m so convinced of this, whether or not anybody else sees it, that I’m going to start calling him Mr Davey for this entire edition.

Fig. 1

Regardless of what I call him, his performance remains the same. Let’s just say that it’s always a bad sign when David Dimbleby is by far the most awake person on the panel. Maybe his tattoo has given him a newfound fire in his belly, who knows. Maybe that’s what half an hour of non-stop shipbuilding talk does to a group of people, in the company of many beardy men.

But Mr Davey tried his best. He really, really did. He even tried to smack down the other panellists once or twice! At one point, Paul Kenny mockingly said he believed in the tooth fairy. Mr Davey slowly shook his head. Kenny tutted. The thrill of debate.

Out of nowhere, Mr Davey was suddenly stuck talking about drones. Why, his face seemed to say. Why me. He only wanted to discuss green levies. Why was he here? “I don’t know enough about this”, he muttered, clearly wanting nothing more than to shrink away and curse the day he was born.

(Meanwhile, Paul Kenny asserted that the drones “are getting away from us”. Yes. That’s the point.)

Nothing compared to his ‘fight’ with Nigel Lawson, though. Mr Davey simply could not believe it was happening. He was taking on a grumpy grandpa and the grumpy grandpa was winning. How was this even real? He’s Ed Davey! The most charismatic politician of them all!

But more on that later…

I once caught Stella Creasy’s very bad cold and hallucinated for two days straight (this is true)

Prior to this week’s programme I was still a little unsure what being Shadow Competition Minister entailed, but Stella Creasy has shown me the light. It means trying to cram as many words as possible into each sentence, and competing with every previous sentence to top your high score. As a result, she ended up urging the government to go easy on the dockers and to “keep the skills that are longterm skills”. As opposed to what, Stella? The skills that you get when you’re forced to play a minigame in a video game, and it’s a minigame that you don’t really enjoy but you have to do it anyway in order to progress the story?

Still, she was certainly earnest about it, that much was clear. When the sad subject of Typhoon Haiyan came up, Stella even appealed to us directly: listen to this man making a speech at the UN, she said, almost pleading with Nigel Lawson to finally understand her point of view. He cried, you know. In pain. And I, too, also feel that pain.

Not many politicians manage to look like wibbly-eyed anime characters, but after this performance I can definitely say that she is one of them. (Andy Burnham is, of course, another.)

Fig. 2

Stella Creasy is a conundrum for me. Occasionally she seems like a generic PolitiBot, manufactured in a laboratory somewhere in Slough, others she’s so uber-earnest your teeth almost shatter from the sugar rush. Sometimes she comes out with lines like “We’re not the dinosaurs, sir! Do we want to be extinct?!” and gosh darn it she’s just so sincere about it that you can’t help but answer, “No. No, Stella. I do not want to be a dinosaur.”

You wait ages for a Nigel, then two come along at once

I knew exactly what I was going to get when I heard Lord Lawson of Blaby was going to be on the panel. The question was, when would I get it?

At first, Papa Nigella gave us a sedentary performance, mentioning his time in the Navy on a ship called the Gay Charger and commenting that the word meant something different back then. This caused everyone to chuckle somewhat uncomfortably, because let’s be honest, nobody really wants to hear about Nigel and his charging, gay or otherwise.

But then, at last, the climate change question was aired.

Suddenly, quite frighteningly, Nigel snapped out of his stupour and stared wide-eyed into the light. This was it. This was what he was born to do. He had risen, like a phoenix from the fossil-fueled flames: the king of climate change denial. Haha. Climate change. What a laugh. He’d show them. Little did Mr Davey know that Nigel was merely waiting, all this time, waiting, planning, plotting, for that very moment to arrive. It was his one chance. Time to put the hippies in their place.

Apparently, all things considered, it’s been a nice, quiet time in the tropics recently! Nigel kicked back in his chair, utterly content in the fact that everybody on the panel was staring at him in horror and disbelief. Well. That’s what they get for being such a bunch of sheep. They might chortle, but he’ll have the last laugh, when he next visits the seaside and guffaws into the ocean’s salty face. You fool, he’ll cry. Don’t just sit there. Come over here if you think you’re hard enough.

Oh wait, he’ll say, smiling his crooked, gummy smile. You can’t.

To be fair, old Nigel’s sheer perseverance gave him points, even in the face of the rest of the panel literally laughing at him at one point, even the woman whose line of business is in great whacking trucks that fart who-knows-what into the atmosphere. But no. Nigel, through sheer force of denial, gaily charged on. There was no stopping him. It was all or nothing and Nigel wasn’t taking nothing for an answer, unless it’s the answer to how many more wind farms we should build. And there’s something to be said for that.

Them other two

I’m somewhat sad that Paul Kenny did reasonably well, for had he done embarrassingly badly, I’d get to say ‘oh my god, they killed Kenny!’ and everyone would laugh, and my job would be made at least 62% easier. But that didn’t happen. Kenny did decently, and even if he sounded at first like the Daily Mail’s stereotypical nightmare union leader, the audience seemed to be mainly on his side. Then again that might be because the audience was on everybody’s side this time around. For a group of people who are apparently so passionate about the Navy and, rather worryingly, sending warships to as many places as is legally allowable, they sure were easily swayed by first Nigel Lawson and then Mr Davey’s conflicting opinions about where the baby polar bears are supposed to live.

But more importantly, Kenny also wore a nice pink spotty tie, while saying stuff like “we couldn’t fight a cod war! We couldn’t put an exclusion zone around the Isle of Wight!” Scared, I resisted the urge to change the channel. It’s clear Kenny wants to declare war. Perhaps on Philip Hammond. No-one seems that bothered by this, by the way. Who even is Philip Hammond, the masses cry? We don’t know, but we don’t like him.

Nikki King also had a bone to pick with all the pointless squawking going on, in the style of your mum despairing about how why can’t she ever just have a nice family dinnertime without someone crying or dropping the tea tray or showing off their Claire’s Accessories star pendant (looking at you Stella Creasy) or getting into a fight about whether global warming exists.

“Isn’t this all so confusing?” she bemoaned, “I wish someone could tell me exactly what’s going on”. Yes, Nikki, well. That’s the thing. People sometimes have slightly differing opinions. That is, you could say, the entire point of this programme.

I suppose she was brought on to give a more ‘human touch’, while still being respected as a top businesswoman, and she did start off okay – she almost reminded me of a no-nonsense school nurse. But then she said that and that’s all I can think of now. I wish I knew what was going on.

Near the end, Mr Davey got angry, having finally gotten sick of Nigel Lawson’s flaccidity and his denial of the ocean’s acidity. I raised a weary cheer, because against my better judgement, I was actually starting to root for Mr Davey, simply because he no longer looked like he had wind. Go on my son, I cried, go on. The show was finally getting interesting. Davey and Lawson were fighting, Creasy was pleading, Kenny was punching and King was…I don’t know what she was doing. The energy bills issue was even raised again, and I was so sure that things were turning the corner –

But then someone just had to bring up carrier bags, didn’t they. I slumped back down and ate some more cake.

At last, a lady closed the show with a question on the arrogance of humanity, and doesn’t that sum this programme up well.

The final scores are:

Davey: 5/10

(Not so) dire

Creasy: 5/10

Misfire

Lawson: 4/10

Denier

Kenny: 5/10

(Singing to the) choir

King: 3/10

A flat tire

The Crowd: 4/10

Why?…er

I’m harsh because I’m in a grumbly mood. I was waiting all night for someone to make a tattoo joke and nobody did, so everybody gets a point deducted for disappointing me.

It’s been fun, but it’ll be back to normal next week when the glorious webmaster makes his return. So, in conclusion…it’s goodbye from me, and goodbye from me.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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