Questionable Time #89


questionable time 89 david dimbleby boy wine

Good morning Lemmings and stop sniggering at the above picture because sniggering is not welcome this week. No, thanks to the inclusion of not only a celebrated author but also a philosopher QT has gone all highbrow on us and as a result there is to be no silliness today, no petty gibes and definitely no laughing at audience members trying to make jokes about bankers and biscuits. Alright, who am I kidding? QT can be as highbrow as it wants but my brows are feeling decidedly low-to-middling today so snicker away to your heart’s content at what turned out to be a much less sophisticated affair than its creators most likely anticipated. On we go…

I’m reassessing my reassessment of Philip Hammond…

I’ve been pretty mean to Philip Hammond in the past, what with all the .gifs and pshops about him being the greyest looking man in Christendom but over the last few weeks I’ve had a trademark change of heart and promised myself I’d give him a fair go this week. Why? Well, two reasons really:

  1. I was genuinely impressed with how much punishment he soaked up when Newsnight (which still can’t seem to work out whether it’s an august beacon of deep thought or the T-4 of current affairs) put him in front of a very well-heeled Thames Valley lynch mob.
  1. I recently discovered that he used to be a goth and I have a soft spot for goths, mainly because they are such a constant in life. Empires may come and go, nations may rise and fall but the one thing you can count on is that there will always be goths walking (well, shuffling) amongst us and they will look exactly the same as goths have always looked – sullen, dejected and slightly pink around the mouth from all the snakebite and black. Staying power – that’s what I respect about the goth.

So yes, ‘Let’s give Philip a fair bash’ was my mission statement this week and initially it was looking good – right up until the point he got Liz Kendall confused with Rachel Reeves. That didn’t go down too well (particularly when the Blue Team are getting it in the neck for their lack of female MP’s) but it wasn’t fatal and should have only been a temporary setback – that is until he did it again. Suddenly you could see something primal light up the eyes of Kendall, Kennedy and Dimbers – like hyena’s who’ve just heard the cry of a wounded antelope – and what should have been a display of steady-handedness quickly descended into an ignominious rout as they cracked wise, poked fun and even fashioned name badges out of the materials to hand. Were they perhaps a little too brutal with him? Maybe, but this is QT and as George W. Bush once pointed out “Fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again”… Or something along those lines.

Anyway, the point is that I gave Hammond a fair crack and he buggered it up so we’re back to the business as usual: Here’s a picture of the intensive makeup process they used to colourise his face prior to filming (see Fig. 1).

philip hammond make up grey

Fig. 1

Liz Kendall – Goth Slayer

It was an impressive scalp for Liz last night and a deserved one too – Hammond may well have bought his own petard along but it was Kendall who did the bulk of the hoisting and she did so with glee. The other thing that really struck me about Kendal (other than her waving her arms about like she’s in that scene from Minority Report) was that she sounded like she might actually have a song in her heart – you know, like Labour MP’s used to before 13 years of government turned them all into dead-eyed middle-managers. Granted, that song might have sounded a little jarring if she’d been properly put on the spot about the Red Team’s benefits policy but as Hammond had incapacitated himself she got the run of the mill and did so with a breathlessness that just about stayed on the right side of the Enthused – Annoying Line. Well done Rachel!

Greenham Common called – they want their novelist back…

While Kendall may have briefly reminded me of the hopey-changey days of 1997, Jeanette Winterson went one better and managed to embody an entire decade simply by existing. Yup, the 80’s were back in town and appeared to be having a thoroughly good time of it all by damning privatisations, cocking a snook at the toffs (“David Cameron has never been hungry in his life!”) and invoking the spirit of James Lovelock. Did we learn anything we didn’t already know? Not really, but it was rather good fun to hear those bouncy just-north-of-Manchester vowels get slung about with genuine conviction and I’m never averse to a trip down memory lane. Now if you’ll excuse me I have a copy of Exodus to reacquaint myself with.

Such bouffant! Much luxury!

For a softly spoken man, Roger Scruton doesn’t half clang a lot – like when he managed to go from floodplains to just-shy-of-eugenics in three easy sentences. CLANG! It wasn’t just that point either – plenty more was to follow when he managed to chastise an entire generation for taking Media Studies (CLANG!), made out that £50k’s worth of debt is a trifling matter (CLANG!) and slagged off pretty much every voter in the country, several dozen of whom were sat right in front of him (CLANG!).

Truth be told, I don’t know what to make of Scruton other than he lives in a different world to the rest of us but seems completely oblivious to this fact. I will say though: I rather like his surname. ‘Scruton’ – it sounds like it’s inches away from being a swear word.

Charlie’s still in the game…

I was getting worried about Charles Kennedy as he’s been really mardy on his recent QT outings, almost as if he doesn’t know what to do with himself now that the Yellow Team have all grown up and left home. Last night was different though: Gone was the fidgety and slightly grumpy Charlie of shows past and in was the avuncular fireside chat Charlie who would only stray briefly into politics before gently wrapping us up in the warm blanket of chummy anecdotes and good-natured waggery. Oh Charlie, it’s good to have you back…

Tl;dr

Hammond: 3/10

(Did) Poke (his own eyes out)

Kendall: 7/10

(Should be) Stoke(d with herself)

Kennedy: 6/10

(Appears to have) Awoke(n from a deep and troubled sleep)

Winterson: 6/10

(Doesn’t like how many) Bloke(s are in parliament)

Scruton: 3/10

(Doesn’t seem to know much about regular) Folk

The Crowd: 6/10

(Think that James Knox) Polk (is history’s most underrated President)

And there we are – a rather pleasing affair that revolved heavily around the ostracisation of an ex-Goth and the ramblings of a talking hairpiece. It’ll do for me. Right, I’m off to hide in the basement as the sky appears to have turned blue and I’m not quite sure how to deal with that any more.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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