Posts Tagged 'Amanda Platell'

Questionable Time #116


qt 116
Good morrow lemmings and welcome to sunny Romford-in-London! We’ve got a veritable cavalcade of weirdos on the panel today. Don’t just stand there, let’s get to it, strike a pose, there’s nothing to it.

“You gotta work bitch” – acclaimed scholar Britney Spears

Oh boy, oh boy, I wonder what new and interesting topics Question Time will cover this week? Plebgate? Ferguson protests? More Twitter storms that aren’t Thornberry-centric? No! It’s 25 uninterrupted minutes on immigration, because nobody’s talking about it and it’s a conversation we need to have, apparently! Nigel Farage’s ghostlike grimace floats over the panel, his laughter cascading off the walls and echoing into their very eardrums.

Chuka, you’re up. I am constantly baffled by this man. Once hailed as the great hope of the Red Team, everyone seems to have backed away from him slightly due to the fact that they’re a bit weirded out by the extent of his smooth, succulent silkiness. Chuka may well be the smoothest man who has ever lived. With his crisp dark grey suit, neatly preserved dark grey spotted tie, and World AIDS Day ribbon perfectly clasped on his lapel, he’s immaculately groomed and never puts a foot wrong, or indeed a word wrong – thus raising questions if he was actually bred in a lab somewhere, or created in Peter Mandelson’s sinister Machine for easy programming.

Anyway, Umunna Droid Version 2.0 talks nicey-nicely about higher education and doesn’t cause too much of a fuss. Tolerance! Respect! Fair play! Handsome Chuka will save us all, especially from rival leadership candidates Anime Andy and Pixie Yvette. Meanwhile, Michael Gove prissily clasps his hands together and peers over his glasses – perhaps seeking to unnerve Chuka, but you can’t unnerve a man who runs on pure undiluted smoothgroove.

Michael launches into his first attack. Immigrants come here because our economy is booming, which is good, but we need to control our borders anyway. Chuka raises a neatly crafted eyebrow. Suddenly he’s unceremoniously pushed offstage by Jo Brand, who asserts that certain areas of the press encourage scaremongering, looking pointedly at Amanda Platell, the Mail woman. Amanda isn’t taking that lying down, though – you gotta werk ‘ard, and don’t expect a meal ticket!! she declares, which only succeeds in making me feel hungry.

Our last panellist, Norman Baker, has a weird voice. He came to my university last week and got heckled by free education protestors. You’d think students would agree with him, though, considering he’s all pro-drug and pro-aliens and pro-David Duchovny. However, today, he’s disappointingly unweird. Boooo.

Well, things haven’t been too bad so far. Nobody’s shouted or screamed or cried, so maybe there is hope for QT after all –

The war of Tristram’s ear

I spoke too soon. We’ve all been drafted into the Class War without noticing. Oh, the humanity!

While a Daily Mail journalist criticising the ‘metropolitan elite’ is a bit of a larf, what was even more shocking in this episode was the behaviour of Michael Gove. Actually giving old loaf face the benefit of the doubt? Agreeing with some aspects of Labour policy? Quietly and unobnoxiously setting out his beliefs? Reader, I was shocked. Gove must know that he has the public image of a pile of dog vomit, so maybe he’s appeared on QT in order to tackle it. Bless our new Saint Gove, for he will lead is into a free school future of fun and frolics.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Hilariously, Jo Brand’s not havin’ any of that. Screw lovingly serenading public/private/whatever you wanna call them schools, THREATEN THEM UNTIL THEY CRY. Smooth Chuka tries to calm things down by hoping that one day state schools can be good enough that private schools are redundant =^w^= (that’s my attempt at a cute cat face). He doesn’t ask how, but maybe Jo Brand can be sent into battle to win this war.

Everything is awesome! Gove practically sings, echoing The Lego Movie. Dimbleby asks why he lost the support of teachers, then. Gove shrugs.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯, he says.

White vann diagram

There’s a big kerfuffle (although not too big, nobody here is swivel-eyed enough to start shrieking) about benefits and are they HIGHER or LOWER, ladies and gents? Everyone agrees that Something Must Be Done, or Has Been Done, but Does it Go Far Enough or should we Keep a Safety Net or just Drive This Bastard Off a Cliff. Then the next couple of questions are very quick, so I’ll just cover them in brief:

Facebook! Jo Brand and Amanda Platell have a passive-aggression-off! Should the website give a shit? Norman says this may be problematic! Gove and Umunna cry, no, YOU’RE problematic! Facebook continues to not give a shit.

White van man! QT almost completely missed this shitstorm from last week. Jo recounts a beautiful tale of pulling some sexist white ven men’s windscreen wipers off and has a go at Dimbleby. Jo’s practically aiming to become prime minister! Mr Smoothie looks uncomfortable and metropolitan. Daily Mail woman says something about UKIP representing the workers – and Ocado, which makes me even hungrier. Overall, I think people just need to understand that some white ven men are perfectly nice people, and some are complete dickheads. No need to lump ’em all together like lumpy custard.

Finally, Norman says we need less career politicians, and presumably more conspiracy theorists. With that, let’s stop this nonsense.

Time for the scores!

Gove: 7/10

(Tried to) Restore (his reputation)

Umunna: 6/10

Wore (nice clothes)

Baker: 4/10

(A surprising) Bore

Platell: 5/10

(Warns against class) War

Brand: 7/10

(Unleashed a great) Roar

The Crowd: 6/10

(Found it a) Chore

Next week has obligatory Shirley Williams. Uh…yay?

Also, a plug 4 u: Ye Olde Webmaster, the former Glorious Leader of this blog, has a new t-shirt out! It’s cool and fresh and funky and I urge you to buy it, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #91


questionable time 91 david dimbleby north by north west

Good morning Lemmings and boy-oh-boy do we have a lot to cover today, so much so that I’m not even sure where to start. How about starting at the start? That would be a good start indeed so that’s what I’m going to do: Starting… at the start. Watch me start Lemmings, watch me start!

 

The Cold War is back in town…

…And boy have I missed it because, truth be told, I wasn’t getting on very well with the post-Soviet world. Sure, it was nice that we were ‘winning’ and could invade whoever the hell we wanted under the shakiest of pretexts but it was a complicated, random world that was very difficult to make sense of and didn’t have the cosy certainty that the Cold War possessed (the sort of end-of-the-world certainty that led my dad to fill the cellar with cans of tuna in case the balloon ever went up. He never had a tin opener down there though so the slow death of my family would have been a case-study in absurdity). Anyway, it seems that Putin’s decided that the game is back on and in a weird way I find this all rather comforting as it’s a world I understand and that fits together in my head (bearing in mind that this is the sort of head that reads atlases on the toilet and occasionally draws little arrows on them to signify hypothetical invasion routes). It also seems to fit together rather well in the heads of Michael Heseltine, David Aaronovitch and Alexander Nekrassov, the three panelists who really went to town on this subject.

 

For Aaronovitch, this couldn’t be more black and white: Putin’s up to no good, the Crimea vote will be rigged (at least he’s 95% sure it will be) and to do nothing is not an option. ‘Fair point’ I say, but wait, what’s this? Nekrassov’s got a juicy little counter in about how NATO has been more than a little underhand in its eastward expansion and anyway, this was a coup, not a revolution. Hmmm, also a fair point. What say you, recently-defrosted-cold-warrior Michael Heseltine?

 

‘Bollocks to the details, we’re not doing anything because we can’t’

 

And he’s right: There isn’t a great deal we can do because this isn’t some far-flung sandy place on the fringes of the world, this is a top-ranking nuclear power that happens to keep Europe’s lights on and as galling as it may be, that’s just the way life is. No well-meaning yet essentially empty ‘heads around the table’ platitudes a la Reeves and Hughes, no morally certain chest pounding a la Aaronovitch and Nekrassov, no just sitting there looking like a cat a la Platell, just a very straightforward ‘Life sucks kiddo, suck it up’. It was one of the very rare times on QT I actually felt like I was being treated like an adult and more power to Tarzan for that.

 

A pleasing interlude…

So that was a satisfying, meaty chunk of muscular debate and what followed with the Stephen Lawrence question was also quite heartening with thoughtful response all round (especially from Hughes and the audience) – except from Amanda Platell. Instead, she chose to address the questioner as ”a beautiful black man” before embarking on less-than-subtle eulogy to the Daily Mail (“my paper”) and Paul Dacre (“my editor”). Alas and to absolutely no one’s surprise these shenanigans came to an abrupt end when Dimbers told her to shut up and my attention swiftly moved on to the Scottish lass who claimed that she had chased her attacker to a police station only to find no-one was there. Her general demeanour left me in no doubt that this claim was 100% true and that her attacker was probably running to the police station for fear of their own safety.

 

And then suddenly…

…Everything went mental. Out of nowhere came a question on immigration and the tone was set to ‘febrile’ the minute the original questioner stated that Barking was now “the most terrible place on Earth to live”. Well, that was it – the pro-immigration section of the audience start working up a sustained chunter but it was the anti camp who kept catching the camera. Most notable of these was the bloke who started off on how he didn’t receive rejection letters when he applied for jobs any more and implied that it was probably the fault of immigrants. Understandably, this didn’t go down too well with the majority of the audience but was he going to take any notice of them? Was he hell. No, instead he just carried on going, this time blaming immigrants for not letting him have a house until it finally dawned on him that he might just have made a massive tit of himself. The solution? To grab his coat and leave the studio on the pretext of finding “somewhere to live”. It was surreal, a little bit frightening (although not frightening enough to dissuade the next audience member from describing immigration as an “invasion” and comparing it to the situation in the Crimea) and probably a QT first.

 

And how did the panel deal with this? Not badly actually. There were attempts made to reason with the man but I suspect that ‘reason’ was the last thing this guy was in the market for and anyway, it’s not like he stuck around to see what they would come up with. That just left Reeves (who somehow managed to go through the entire show without being referred to as ‘Liz Kendall’ – see Fig. 1) and Heseltine to have a minor to-do over Labour’s past immigration policy whilst Aaronovitch did most of the legwork for the pro camp and Hughes tried to split the difference but couldn’t quite carry it through. One thing we can be sure of though is that Barking certainly lives up to its name: It was all totally Barking mad.

rachel-reeves-liz-kendall-gif

Fig. 1

 

Tl;dr

 

Heseltine: 7/10

(Still has great) Hair

 

Reeves: 6/10

(Is every)Where (at the moment)

 

Hughes: 6/10

(Is neither) Here (nor) There

 

Aaronovitch: 7/10

Doctrinaire

 

Nekrassov: 5/10

(Knows much about Red) Square

 

Platell: 5/10

(Feels the need to) Share (her love of the Daily Mail)

 

The Audience: 7/10

(Did well not to) Swear.

 

Well, there you go – a dramatic little number with enough geopolitics to keep me drawing little arrows on my atlas and an audience member crazy enough to fill 300 words. Trust me, that doesn’t happen very often. Right, that’s me done. If you’ll need me I’ll be upstairs… With my atlas…

 

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #59


questionable time 59 david dimbleby a clockwork orange

Good morning Lemmings and what’s that I can see out of my window? A thin and clingy drizzle? A non-specific yet probably unsatisfactory ambient temperature? A sky the colour of dishwater? Hurrah, Spring must finally be here! In other good news, I am also delighted to say that after 12 days of full spectrum Thatcher saturation, this will probably be the last dose of collective fawning/damning-to-hell-and-back of the late-PM’s memory that you will have to endure for the foreseeable future – barring of course the remote but not entirely implausible scenario where she rises from the grave and returns to visit great terror upon this realm. I can’t rule it, but I think we’re safe for the moment. Right, off we go to Aldershot.

 

Sarah Teather appears to be trapped in a hellish netherworld…

It was never going to be easy for the more socially democratic members of the Yellow Team to sit comfortably in the passenger seat of power while the Blue Team were running all the red lights but some have coped with it better than others. Take for example Vince Cable: So far as I can tell he’s adapted to this new reality by flipping a coin every morning and letting the outcome decide whether he’s going to be anti or pro-coalition on that particular day. It’s not the most elegant solution but it appears to work for him. Then of course there’s Tim Farron, a man who just flat-out decided that the 2010 election never happened and decided to carry on being an opposition MP just for the hell of it. Again, it’s a rather unconventional approach but it’s one that’s enabled him to live with himself nevertheless. But what of Sarah? Well there’s a tragedy unfolding before our very eyes.

 

Unceremoniously reshuffled out of government when it became clear that her heart really wasn’t in this whole coalition business, she’s since been fidgeting uncomfortably on the backbenches, occasionally breaking cover to pop off a few rounds of Dear Sir, Imagine My Concern but mostly just looking really ill at ease. Last night’s question on the benefit cap is instructive on this front: Here she made some really valid points about how this measure will probably cost more than it saves and rightly called it out as a cheap political trick, yet it was delivered with such a pained expression of nebulous concern that it got steamrolled by the Flint/Platell Queen Bee-off and all we were left with was a chewed lip and furrowed brow. Similarly, when asked by Dimbers about whether she really was a supporter of the coalition, the answer was so ‘maybe, kinda, possibly’ that it just sort of petered out and gave the impression that she genuinely doesn’t know one way or the other.

 

This is problematic because as bone-headed as it may be, we have trouble with uncertainty and despite our frequent howls for a more nuanced and thoughtful version of politics, deep down all we really want is a good punch-up. Right now, Teather’s just too conflicted for a proper ruck and until she makes her mind up about which side (if any) she’s on, she will continue to be drowned out by louder voices. So Sarah, you have a very simple choice to make: Either get in that tent and start pissing out or make for the exit and be ready to piss in. What you can’t do though is hover around the fly screen with your legs crossed because eventually you’ll wet yourself.

 

Hello Strange Stranger…

Imagined being tucked into bed by Michael Howard. There you are with your jimmy jams on and teeth all brushed but something is bothering you.

 

Uncle Mike,” you say “is it right that people who are on benefits can earn more than those in work? I just asked Auntie Sarah about it and it made her terribly sad”

 

Weeeeeeell,” says Uncle Mike with his kindly-if-a-little-unsettling smile and rigourously eee-nun-ceee-ated sill-eee-buls “your Auntie Sally is riiiight. No-one waaaaants to cuuuut ben-eee-fiiiiiits. That’s the last thing in the wuuuuuuuurld we want to happen.”

‘Oh good’ you think as your eyelids grow heavy with every stretched vowel ‘Uncle Mike thinks everything’s going to be alright’

 

Buuuuuut, we’re in HOCK and everyone must paaaaay or the wuuuuuurld will end! Sleep well Tiny Ribs!”

 

See what I’m getting at here? When it comes to Michael Howard it always starts with ‘there’s nothing to worry about’ and ends up with a bloody great monster under the bed. Having said that, I’d probably take Michael Howard tucking me into bed over him being my dentist any day of the week (see Fig. 1).

 

michael-howard-marathon-man-gif

Fig. 1

Of Flint and Rhys-Jones…

Not much to say really. Flint, as ever, went into it all guns blazing and seemed to come out on top but as always it was by the skin of her teeth thing as she was in regular danger of tumbling over her own words. As for Griff, well he made good use of talking very loudly and playing the Hey, I’m Just A Comedian card when things got tricky, a winning yet slightly unfair tactic employed by every fifth panelist since the dawn of time. On the whole though there’s nothing to get too steamed about so let’s leave it at that. Move along now, nothing to see here.

 

And the award for Most Ludicrous Statement of the Series goes to…

 

I’m proud that the Daily Mail takes this very seriously… To report the facts”

Amanda Platell, 2013

So yes, Amanda Platell made the above statement to a hearty chorus of hysterical laughter and then proceeded to double down on this strategy by calling everyone ‘darlin” and picking a fight with a doctor. Well done Amanda, you’ve got this QT thing down pat.

 

Tl;dr

 

Howard: 5/10

Eerie

 

Flint: 6/10

Sneery

 

Teather: 5/10

Weary

 

Platell: 4/10

Bleary

 

Rhys-Jones: 5/10

Cheery

 

The Crowd: 5/10

(Live within the constraints of General Relativity) Theory?

 

And that’s that: A generally watchable affair spiced up by a brief division into the absurd courtesy of Ms. Platell. Right, I’m off to Sheffield to watch Propagandhi and get dangerously stoked.

 

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #19


Pay more, get more...

Morning Lemmings and rejoice, for Normal Service has resumed. Refreshed and reinvigorated from THE BEST NIGHT EVUR I return to you with renewed vim, pep and possibly ‘zing’. How long this state of affairs will persist however, is somewhat up for debate as most of this instalment will be brought to you from the back of the Leeds to Exeter Megabus and as most Megabus veterans will know, The Cheapskate’s Chariot is the sworn enemy of vim, pep and ‘zing’. Yes, that’s right, abandon all hope as you fold your 6’2” frame into the sweaty, mobile pressure cooker of low budget purgatory. Vim, pep and ‘zing’ won’t help you here, no siree. Only gumption, grit, and possibly ‘moxie’ will save you now. So with this in mind, let us trundle uncomfortably on to this week’s Question Time, bought to you by the denizens of Witney.

The Menu:

Q1: Following Saville, should further inquiries be started for victims on all sides?

Q2: Are today’s £2bn worth of cuts a tax on jobs and future industries?

Q3: Is David Cameron standing up for the national interest in the BP scandal?

Q4: In light of Ken Clarke saying that we should abolish short sentences, should we now send less people to jail?

In The Yellow Bit Of The Blue/Yellow Corner: Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, one time LibDem leadership contender and strangely rodent-esque face possessor.

Oh, Chris, just when I was just beginning to like you, you have to go and wreck it all by renouncing the bulk of what you’ve been telling us for years in the space of a few weeks. It wasn’t always like this and back in the day, my feelings towards Huhne were largely in the ‘meh’ category in that I just couldn’t find an angle on him. I tried, time and time again, to form a cogent opinion about the man, but every time it seemed to be thwarted by his overpowering genericness. Sure, those chipmunk cheeks and that slightly jaundiced, John Redwood-esque hue his skin has gave me a few visual handles to cling onto, but apart from that, the only remarkable thing about him was the lack of anything remarkable about him.

However, that began to change over time and with prolonged exposure came the sense that there might be something going on under that very MOR exterior. He’d occasionally have the odd good turn in parliament, he seemed to be pretty consistent and there wasn’t anything that was particularly unlikable about him. Sure, his economics might be a little too liberal for my liking, but he was a million miles away from the nuttier side end of the spectrum and his stance on social policy was generally up my alley. So well done Chris Huhne, finally you made an (albeit delicate) impression on me and our future together looked reasonably sunny, although possibly interspersed with the odd shower here and there.

What I wasn’t banking on was seeing Huhne on the frontbenches and since then, it’s been pretty much wet playtimes all round. Perhaps the best way to illustrate this is to look at how he did last night. Have at you, sir!

OK, so it all started pretty well with Q1 and there wasn’t really much that could go wrong with his response, given that Cameron has genuinely handled the outcome of the Saville Inquiry very well. All that he really needed to do was damn Jeffrey Donaldson’s ‘this ain’t over’ posturings with faint praise, throw in some ‘need to move forward’ stuff and chuck a few props in the direction of his new patron. The result? Steady message, steady applause, Steady Old Chris. However, this eminently moderate state of affairs was not to last and along came Q2, resplendent in it’s potential to start throwing his stance wildly off kilter. Hain was given first crack at this one and immediately made it personal by saying he couldn’t “understand why Chris Huhne is in this government”, given the LibDems pre-election stance on the economy. Huhne played this by the numbers, tried to turn it into a debate about Labour’s legacy and invoked Liam Byrne’s now infamous “there’s no money left note” (which I still think is genuinely funny). Now, I don’t have a problem with this as it’s part of the game: As soon as you get into office, you have 3 month window where you can blame more or less anything on your predecessors folly. England lose the World Cup? Labour’s fault. Some damn fool has commissioned another series of Alan Carr:Chatty Man? Labours fault. The internet finally collapses under the weight of spammy Farmville updates? Labours fault. That’s cool with me. It’s simply the way it is. However, what annoyed the living crap out of me was how he then went on to play the Greece card not once, not twice, but six times. The first time (where he it spiced up with some ‘think of your mortgage’ bogymanery) was fair enough and he even got some moderate claps on it’s second outing, but six times? Come on Chris, that’s just weak, especially when you spent most of your pre-election working days calling bullshit on the Tories for exactly the same thing. Colour me unimpressed.

Next up was Q3 on the BP disaster and his response to this felt just a little incoherent. At the start, he had a prissy little tiff with Platell, then got a sustained needling from Dimbers and ultimately failed to deliver a message that really hung together. It wasn’t a disaster, but then it wasn’t really a triumph either. Q4 was a little better in that it sounded fairly reasonable, but still, hardly a seismic reversal of fortunes and my overriding memory of his performance come be summed up in one word: “Greece”.

Part of me is now saying “Go easy on Huhne. This is a coalition so of course he’s going to have to play ball with things he doesn’t agree with” and there’s a certain amount of truth in that. However, what riles me is how convincing he looks, parroting the new party line. Take a look at this video of Vince Cable being kicked about by Paxman: You can tell that St. Vince is having a huge amount of trouble justifying to himself and the world at large exactly why it is that he’s done a complete U-turn on his former views and seems deeply uneasy about the whole affair. Similarly, Simon Hughes’ last outing on Question Time was characterised by heavy doses of lip biting: He did his best to read from the new script, but he clearly felt awful doing it. I like that as it shows both of these men to be very human and aware that what they’re doing is going to piss a lot of people off (especially those who voted for them). You don’t get that with Huhne and he now comes across like one of those annoying ex-smokers who berate their former brethren and get very sanctimonious about the virtues of a vice-free life. I don’t like those people.

Credit rating downgraded to 3/10

In Red Corner: Peter Hain, MP for Neath and long term Labour survivor.

Another parliament, another four years of Hain. I make that sound like a bad thing, but it doesn’t actually upset me too much as I have a bit of time for him. What I can’t abide however, is his ‘Take that back Sir!’ face he pulls when someone has a go at him. It’s just all a little overplayed, overindignant and underwhelming. Cases in point are littered all over the show in Q2 where he was grappling with an overly zealous Huhne. The content was all fine as he gave him quite the bollocking for post-election change of heart, but the manner in which he said it was just a little too over the top (as well as getting busted by Dimbers over the difference between real, actual jobs and potential, maybe future jobs). That’s a shame, because a cooler approach could have resulted in a great deal of hay being made and I can’t help feeling that even though he emerged the victor, he still managed to throw away some easy points. Apart from that it was a pretty standard outing with some considered and entirely reasonable arguments put forward in Q1 and a bit of crowd pleasing ‘oil addiction’ (and none-too-subtle Ed Miliband namechecking) in Q3. Q4 looked dodgier as he made some point about women with mental health issues before lurching into a quick ‘paedos and rapists’ clamour. That didn’t look so great, but generally speaking, he did OK.

And that’s just as well because I have a feeling that Hain’s going to be in parliament long after I’m dead. I’m not predicting that I’m heading for an early grave, I just get this feeling that Hain is going to somehow cheat the laws of the natural world and outlast us all to be somewhat over-dramatic on the backbenches for ever more. Don’t ask me why, it’s just a feeling I have.

An alright but highly strung 5/10

In The Red, White And Blue Corner: Jeffrey Donaldson, MP for Lagan Valley and Trimble upsetter.

I had a lot riding on this guy’s performance tonight, mainly because I’d had real trouble doing the photoshops prior to the show (I’ve already done the only funny photo of Hain, Platell doesn’t look grumpy enough in any of her online shots and I couldn’t find a chipmunk that looked sufficiently like Huhne). However, I did find a shot of Donaldson looking like a 80’s stand-up comic that did appear to hold promise. I managed to hash that together into rudimentary 5 panel comic, but there was one problem: The punchline would only work if he dropped a real clanger on the show (or had a total tumbleweed moment) and as my little netbook isn’t exactly a high grade supercomputer, I wouldn’t be able to edit it after the event (at least not without klutzing about at one in the morning). However, I must say that the omens looked pretty good, considering he’s a hard bitten Unionist who’s not exactly been entirely enthusiastic about the peace process and that he’s not on his home turf. So did it work out for me or was my last ditch pshop effort a complete waste of time? Time to find out.

It started promisingly enough with Q1 and he wasted no time in pretty much ignoring the Saville verdict, making a few allegations about Martin McGuiness and submachineguns and then demanding inquiries for Unionist victims (providing they were cheap enquiries). There was a little love from the audience on this but some nice little scraps erupted between him and Kennedy later on and it looked as if my clanger moment might actually come to pass. As it was, it didn’t and he managed to rescue the situation by praising the British Army right at the end of the question. That got a lot of applause and with it went my best chance at getting some cheap laughs out of him. Dammit Donaldson! Do you think image based jokes grow on trees?

Things got worse for me in Q2 as he got a very positive response to how they reinvest tax revenue in Northern Ireland while some yank bashing in Q3 also won him some claps. Gah! One question left and still no absolute clanger! Luckily for me, he did come close enough to what could be construed as a tumbleweed moment on the last question, mainly by completely missing the point and making some bitter statement about victims. Silence ensued. Ok, so it wasn’t a major faceplant, but I reckon it was enough for me to get away with. Check out Fig. 1 but please don’t hold me responsible for any lack of laughter that transpires. I can only work with what I got.

This had so better work...

Fig. 1

Aside from my rather self absorbed concern for whether my pshop worked, how did he do? Well, not that great, truth be told. As I said at the beginning, he has a reputation as a dyed-in-the-wool Unionist who really can’t abide working with the enemy and these days, that just looks a little sad. I say this as someone who is old enough to remember the later years of the Troubles, but too young to have a good grasp of the overarching narrative, but still it does seem like the world has moved on while Donaldson remains resolutely the same. And that’s a bit of a shame.

A bygone 4/10

In The Independent/Brainy Corner: Baroness Helena Kennedy, Labour peer and ethics buff.

I didn’t know much about Kennedy prior to this show so I looked her up on wikipedia and bugger me if she hasn’t sat on every worthy sounding committee/group ever created in the history of mankind. Not only that, but she must also have enough letters after her name to make some pretty impressive swear words with and she is positively dripping with honours.

Anyhoo, how does this translate into real life? In a word, ‘hardcore’. She knows her stuff and is not to be messed with. This was pretty evident from Q1 as she made a big deal of the Army being ‘agents of the state’ and thus more accountable than most. This went down well and despite some resistance from Platell and Donaldson, she took home a lot of crowd love for her efforts. Q2 saw her decry the government spending cuts as “absolute folly” and “a madness” (not just any madness, ‘a’ madness) before opening both barrels on Huhne for being “sheep’s clothing” for a Tory government. That went down very well. Q3 was more sedate, although she did manage to needle Huhne some more while blaming everything on ‘oil addiction’ while Q4 saw her signing up to the Ken Clarke Fan Club with much gusto (whilst also ticking off Labour for their prison happy ways). All in all, a pretty assured outing.

So that was Helena Kennedy. I still don’t know a great deal about her, but I know that I’m not going to go out of my way to have a scrap with her as her brain alone would beat me to a bloody pulp.

A mentally forceful 7/10

In The I’m The Funny One/Just Like You Corner: Amanda Platell, Mail Columnist and general decrier of everything.

Gah. Platell. Let’s keep this short and sweet. Platell annoys me. She annoys me because she is constantly wearing a look of disapproval, is actually constantly disapproving of everything and generally pushes all the buttons that Mail Columnists tend to push. By and large, these aren’t good buttons and let’s just leave it at that, alright?

On last nights show, she started in a strangely consensual mood on Q1, before scuzzing that up by overemoting on this that and the other. Q2 boiled down to a visceral hatred of the Stonehenge Visitors Centre while Q3 presented her with an ideal opportunity to have a stab at the yanks (to be fair, her ‘if they hate us so much then send our troops home line’ did go down very well). Finally, she got to give David Cameron and Ken Clarke a knock for being bleeding heart softies when it came to crime, but not before an ill advised attempt to plug her column that she didn’t get away with. And that was that for her and do you know what, I think it might have been one notch above her usual level of dire crapness. Or maybe I’m just a bleeding heart softy like Ken Clarke and David Cameron. Enough of this! We’ve wasted enough time on her already!

A barely worth mentioning 3/10

The Crowd: Witney

I’ll level with you: This was a bit of a crap episode. Mostly this was to do with the questions as Q’s 1 and 3 were both pretty amiable affairs (Donaldson withstanding on Q1) and thus the only real bloodletting that could take place was in Q2 (which Hain didn’t make the most of) and Q4 (which was so late in the show that no one had the time to get stuck in to a proper bout of fisticuffs). As for the audience, the first thing that struck me was that there were three guys wearing exactly the same shirt (a red, white and blue checked number that looks just like my laundry bag). Speaking of shirts, there was also a guy in a screaming pink number with a black tie (not a great look, sir) and some YTS urchin in a suit that was too big for him (who chuntered something about ‘when will I be proud to be British?’ Never, if you’re going to wear clothes like that, Sunny Jim). However, the audience member of the night goes without doubt to the guy who pulled Chris Huhne up whilst wearing what appeared to be some sort of traditional African lion skin jerkin. That, young YTS urchin is what you must wear if you ever want to feel proud to be British. But apart from that, little to report I’m afraid. Damn these broad areas of agreement!

A tepid 4/10

Ok, that’s me done. I’m now stuck in traffic in just outside Manchester while some guy keeps looking like he’s going to doze off on my shoulder. I’m absolutely gagging for a fag, this bus is a hellish sweatbox, I’ve got at least 5 hours left to go and the chances are that I’m going to completely lose my shit at some point and just start screaming “KEYTONES! TURN THEM OFF! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD TURN THEM OFF!”. It sucks to be me right now. Next week, Lemmings, next week.


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