Good morning Lemming and before we get underway let’s just take a few moments to truly appreciate this first paragraph for I feel it has been taken for granted of late and deserves better. Go on, have a good poke around while I thank Elizabeth for the outstanding job she did on last week’s show. Marvel at the neat array of lines and the way the words follow on from each other as I confirm that yes, we had a tattooed Dimbleby as last week’s title but that’s ok because really, how often is that it David Dimbleby gets tattooed? Breath it in Lemmings, suck it up because honestly, this is as good as it’s going to get today and if you don’t believe me, carry on reading as I try to make something – anything – out of an episode so bad that two of the panelists didn’t even turn up. Mark my words, you’ll miss this first paragraph from the second we move on to the main section – which is just about to happen right now.
Yaah, call me Ribshmael…
We all have a White Whale – you know, some behemoth from the deep who breaches the surface just long enough for you to man the harpoons only to watch them slide beneath the waves before you can get a shot off – and Jeremy hunt is mine. I mean c’mon, just look at the guy: He’s the son of an Admiral who played fast and loose with expenses, upset the victims of Hillsborough and then got caught being a little too pally with the Murdoch Empire – but not before his tax arrangements raised a few eyebrows. Naturally, we would expect a politician who goes in for this sort of thing to be covered from nose to tail in barbed projectiles yet Hunt’s skin remains intact and unblemished. In fact, not only did he avoid being dragged to shore for a vigorous flensing, he actually ended up being promoted to Health Secretary instead. That puts Hunt in a different league from the more mundane prey that make up the bulk of the good ship Questionable Time’s catch, different to the point that I’ve been longing for the day when he’d be on QT so that I could lie in wait and finish the matter once and for all. This time my White Whale was not going to get away. This time I’d land the bugger.
Except that I didn’t. Why? Because Jeremy Hunt is scarily brilliant at fluking his way out of a tight spot. Actually no, that’s unfair. There’s skill to what he does and while the paucity of opposition on the panel was a matter of luck it’s the way in which he carries himself – you know, that weird Zen thing he’s got going on with the very calm speech luring you away from the very mad eyes – that really kept him out of harm’s way. It’s also what makes him so vexing because you know just by looking at him that this man is a True Believer – someone who has big, dangerous ideas and considers consequences as incidentals. You saw it very briefly when he got animated about the private sector and his arms prepped themselves for some flamboyant gesticulating (see Fig. 1). The missionary zeal started creeping into his tone and his eyes lit up but no, just as the crowd mobilised to take him to task he caught himself, went straight back to Zen-mode and slipped beneath the surface again.
So here I am, once again shuffling up and down the shoreline muttering oaths about the One That Got Away and making outlandish predictions about what I’ll do the next time our paths cross. In the words of Ishmael – “Heaven have mercy on us all – Presbyterians and Pagans alike – for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.”
I have two theories about Sadiq Khans performance…
The charitable one is ‘flu’ while the infinitely more entertaining one is ‘ketamine’. Seriously though, how else we can explain away such a cack-handed and downright confusing display from an otherwise steady pair of hands? I mean, it’s not like he was just fumbling a few lines, he was mangling 90% of them before suddenly remembering that if he acted a bit angry people wouldn’t bother listening to what he was saying and just clap along for the hell of it. I gave up taking notes within about five minutes because the stuff he was coming out with wasn’t just ropey – it was incoherent and with a dollop of grumpy irritability on top of it to boot.
So what was it then Sadiq? Has the cold snap laid you low with some mind fugging virus or have you been taking the Toronto/Co-Op approach to executive conduct? Please say it’s ketamine, please say it’s ketamine, please say it’s ketamine…
Things can only get better, right?
Erh, no. Things couldn’t really get much worse than they already were but Olly Grender did her level best to make sure that they didn’t improve any either. Now I should point that making the leap between cosy This Week punditry to the QT killing fields is a hard one particularly when you’ve only just landed in the Lords but still, that’s no excuse for just how dreary everything she said sounded. No oomph, no vim, just boil-in-the-bag policy chunter and a look of all-pervading fear. Still, at least she did supply the only laugh of the night when she enjoined the people of Manchester to rejoice about all those HS2 jobs that are coming their way… In twenty million years time. Ha! Good one Olly!
And the moral of this sorry tale?
QT doesn’t work without a civilian panelist. Yeah, they may wibble a lot of nonsense and generally clutter the place up but by God are they vital to stop politicians looking even weirder than they already do. In fact I would go so far as to suggest that the next time there’s a double cancellation they should just fish a couple of random – and preferably difficult looking – audience members out and put them in to wibble nonsense and generally clutter the place up instead. Anything to stop a repeat of last night. Anything.
The Crowd: 5/10
Hmmph…. At least I didn’t have to look up as many rhymes as usual… Small mercies and that. Anyway, let’s just erase this episode from our memories and pretend that none of this ever happened.
Right, I’m off but not before plugging a couple of new T-shirts I’ve got on the go. Anyone for Blackpool? No? Then how about this Red Riding/Battle of Orgreve number? Go on, it’ll make the perfect Christmas gift for the contemporary literature loving ex-NUM member in your life.
Next week Lemmings, next week…