Good morning Lemmings and welcome to the time of year when my grip on all things political gets even more tenuous than usual. ‘Even more tenuous?’ you say, ‘how is that even possible?’ to which I say ‘Oh, it’s very possible. Super possible in fact’ and then explain that because of the presence of Celebrity Big Brother, my usual Newsnight viewing has been replaced with what can only be described as a ‘beautiful atrocity’. And thus I am even more in the dark than usual but am I going to let this stop me pretending otherwise? Am I hell. To Durham…
Don’t do this to me Grant…
You know when you have that weird chemical reaction to someone where you take one look at them and think to yourself ‘I know exactly what you’re all about and I don’t like it one little bit’? I get that with Grant Shapps. In spades. Some of this is a product of what can only be described as his rather ‘colourful’ business career but if I’m honest with myself it runs deeper than that: It’s that face – that face that speaks of a hundred classmates dobbed in, a thousand tales told and a million ‘It wasn’t me!’s – it just cuts through me like a knife.
So, given the above, I guess it’s a dead cert that Shapps is going to walk away from this write-up with a paltry clutch of marks and a fair helping of ignominy right? Well, much though I’d love for that to happen I have to grudgingly confess that he actually did rather well and walked away from a Northern venue not only in one piece but also relatively unbruised. And how did he do that? With his usual combination of buzzwords (“hardworking people”, “the mess we inherited”, “GREECE!”) shoehorned into a boilerplate narrative and backed with a willingness to use his Shocked and Appalled face whenever the Red Team dare to call shenanigans on him. Somehow, this combination managed to offset that grin of his that just screams “I’M ON THE BLAG!” and he made it to the end of the show sitting relatively pretty, all of which strikes me as terribly upsetting.
No bother though… If there’s one thing that you can count on with Shapps it’s that the law of averages will eventually catch up with him. Well, either him or Michael Green…
Mary, Mary, quite single-minded and confrontational…
A game of two halves is to be had here: On the one hand Mary Creagh demonstrated that there’s a lot to be said for relentlessly hammering away with a very stern face and a belly full of molten lava – mainly because it looks like the sort of thing we think we want in an MP – and on this front she did very well. However, this approach is not without its downsides, the most obvious being that it also makes you look like the sort of person who you really wouldn’t want to spend too much time with because it would just be a bit of a grind. The parts where she tried to open with a joke was instructive on this front: She’d just finished a full-on frontal assault at the Blue Team’s position and kicked off the next question with a joke that was so neither here or nor there that I can’t even remember it. Anyway, it wasn’t the joke itself that was the problem, it was the sudden change in velocity from all-guns-blazing to laid-back-tracky-bottoms that made it look so unnatural and nearly sent her through the current-affairs windscreen. I know Mary, I know, you think you’re just giving us what we want but you’re not: You’re giving us what we think we want and being the feckless creatures we are what we think we want is entirely different from what we actually want. And what do we actually want? Politicians who we can imagine ourselves having a pint with. Just ask Nigel Farage.
Nice to see Tim Farron’s finally giving up pretending…
I must confess that it’s been rather fun watching Tim Farron’s transition from Grudging Cog in Coalition Wheel to Willfully Awkward Spanner in Works over the last couple of years and last night’s performance seemed to confirm that his metamorphosis is now complete: Tim can’t even be bothered going through the motions of pretending to get on with the Tories any more. No, instead we got a parade of pre-2010 LibDem touchstones all delivered in that pleasingly ordinary way that makes me want to have a pint with him. Alright, so it wouldn’t be a big night out. We’d probably share a packet of crisps and maybe think about a game of pool before silently reconsidering on account of the latent awkwardness of having only just met each other. The same goes with the taxi: I’m alright Tim, it would be out of your way and I fancy the walk. Yeah, you too… See you soon no doubt.
See Mary? That’s what we actually want.
I love the idea of John Sentamu…
…You know, the snappily dressed (see Fig. 1), dog collar cutting and York Minster camping instrument of divine intervention? That’s the John Sentamu I want to see and to a certain extent he does deliver, what with that mixture of obvious passion and wisened tone. However, it’s the content that lets it down because it’s all so bloody vague – even by CoE standards. Mind you he, did try to crack a joke at one point and you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be at least a little tickled by the spectacle of a bishop trying to crack a joke. With that in mind I hereby award him fair-to-middling marks.
It was all going so well for JHB…
…Right up until the point she said “I agree with UKIP”. I just sort of zoned out after that and spent the remaining time wondering what was happening in Celebrity Big Brother. That’s a point, what has been happening in Celebrity Big Brother? Given everything that’s transpired so far I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re all pregnant by now, men included.
Down, Down Right, Right, Hard Punch
The Crowd: 5/10
So there you go. Apologies for the lateness today… I’ve been rather distracted by some cyber-clowns and all the entailed hassle. Hopefully regular service will resume for the next instalment of Questionable Time.
Next week Lemmings, next week…