Posts Tagged 'Cambridge'

Questionable Time #73


questionable-time-73-david-dimbleby-pop-poster

Good morning Lemmings and remember the rash claim I made last time about QT entering some sort of Golden Age? Yeah well I was wrong. Really wrong. Instead it seems that we’re now back to an Off-Beige Age of QT – an extended exercise in mediocrity not dissimilar in both colour and consistency to that of an undercooked Greggs sausage roll and definitely a million miles away from the soaring heights of the past two weeks. Still, you’re here and I’m here so let’s try to make a go of this. To ambivalence and beyond…

Hands up who didn’t do their homework last night?

For those of you who aren’t in my living room right now I am now holding my hand up while for those of you who are in my living room, please leave. Anyway, I had a bad case of partial information last night that led to a certain confounding of expectations. Basically, I’ve been aware of the Afriyie story, seen his picture in the paper but somehow never heard him speak. Essentially, my mental arithmetic on him looked like this:

Stridently Anti-EU Tory Backbencher

+

MP for one of the most Tory of Tory seats

+

Looks ever so slightly fey in

a sort of Tim Nice But Dim sort

of way.

+

Involvement in madcap parliamentary longshot

=

A fresh butterfly to be broken on the QT wheel

Well, it turns out that I was off the mark because far from being the wet-behind-the-ears Mogglian Shire puppet I was expecting he actually proved to be the real deal: A genuine up-by-the-bootstraps success story who really isn’t that bad at Question Timing. Sure, some of the ‘Who me?’-ing over his leadership ambitions were a little lame and many of the details were a bit slippery but his overall performance was pretty solid. Beware No. 10, the ‘Afriyie’s mental’ narrative will only hold for so long.

What’s the big hurry?

They were a jostley bunch last night, a bunch that like to jostle and if there’s one thing in life that I can do without its jostlers. Take the crowd for example: They all had the look of school children so desperate to be picked by teacher that they support their raised hands with their remaining arm and contort their faces into a painful looking ‘Pleeeeeeeeeease Sir!’. I dread to think what the queue for the studio was like but I imagine it would have been rich in sharp elbows and poor in mellow vibes. However, it tends to be the panel that the audience take their cues off and within that we find two prime contenders for the title of Biggest Jostler Of Them All: Jo Swinson and Sarah Churchwell.

Of the two, Swinson has the more complex Jostle and is what I would describe as a Vexed Jostler in that she knows the Jostle resides within her, has profited from it in the past (I suspect that her rise involved a great deal of Jostling) but is also aware that the Jostle can become overpowering and eventually hinder your ends. As a result she tends to go into questions with a certain level of restraint: The Jostle’s there but she’s keeping it in check by using pre-cooked openers and a very linear, point-by-point approach. When this works it’s pretty potent – you know, the sort of thing that makes you think ‘this person means business’ – but there’s always a danger of the subject becoming intoxicated by the Jostle. Swinson’s particular vulnerability to over-Jostling comes when she’s challenged and this is where we see all that prior restraint go out of the window. Suddenly everything’s going at a million miles an hour, the linear approach has been ditched in favour of the scattergun and her face does that thing (see. Fig .1).

Jo Swinson .gif

Fig. 1

By contrast, Churchwell is what I would call an Innate Jostler and appears to be much more at ease with her Inner Jostle (a cultural element may be at play here as Americans seem to respect – nay, worship – the Jostle while to be British is to be slightly ashamed of the Jostle that resides within us all). In practice this means that she spends a lot of time delivering ambiguities in the tone of certainties, like in the first question about the price freeze. Now, if you had just come into the room midway through that piece you’d think ‘Bloody hell, that Sarah Churchwell sounds like she knows what she’s on about’ because it was an emphatic delivery aided by unrestrained Jostle. However, if you actually listened to the words you’d find that it was a very long ‘no but maybe but probably but maybe’ – yet it sounded good and that’s because she embraced her Inner Jostle.

So what do you get when you put two Jostlers in the room at the same time? You get words. Loads of bloody words. Some of the words were good – like Churwell’s bit on the education system – but most of them were just random placeholders blurted out at a terrifying rate as the combined volume of Jostle led to a runaway chain reaction. In fact, if you missed last night’s episode then just stare at the above .gif for an hour or so because you’ll end up with the same sensation: Motion sickness and the urgent need to be in a less Jostly environment.

Welcome back to nowhere!

There was a rather touching scene early in the show where Dimbers joshed Dianne Abbott for getting fired but sort of welcomed her back to the wilderness with more than a dash of affection. It was nice. Dianne looked rather touched, Dimbers smiled, the crowd awwed and I felt all warm inside. Later on Dimbers reminded everyone that Abbott sent her kids to private school and did so with more than a dab of glee. It was nice. Dianne looked grumpy, Dimbers crowed, the crowd applauded and I felt my heart returning to its cold and deadened state. Welcome back Dianne!

Matthew Parris was just calling it in last night…

To be fair there wasn’t a great deal for him to get his teeth into but I really was quite overawed by just how blasé he was last night. Schools? What’s the point, I can’t read. Price freezes? Yeah, whatever. Are you in the QT studio or at a cocktail party? The what-now? When’s the food coming? Oh look, olives!

Tl:dr

Swinson: 5/10

(Was doing everything on the) Quick

Afriyie: 6/10

(Isn’t half as) Thick (as I thought he would be)

Abbott: 5/10

(Looked ready to throw a) Brick (at Dimbers)

Churchwell: 5/10

(Would be my) Pick (for fastesttalkingpersoninthewholeworld)

Parris: 5/10

(Could have called in) Sick (but didn’t)

The Crowd: 5/10

(Can’t wait to beat Michael) Crick (about the head with a UKIP brochure)?

Actually, while we’re talking about the crowd there were two audience members of note. The first was the civil servant in the fetching red suit/black shirt/red tie combo who made a very good point that was completely lost on me because I was trying to imagine what it would be like working in the Ministry of Wedding DJ’s. The second was the Adrian Mole-esque youngster who insinuated that his teacher’s were only in it for money. I like to picture him playing it out in his head before the show: The applause, the rapture, Dimbers carrying him aloft on his shoulders as the world rejoices at the birth of a star. Unfortunately, these imagined events did not come to pass and he’ll just have to make do with an uncomfortable silence punctuated by some sarky sounding ‘ooh’s for now. Tough break kid. Welcome to QT.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #35


 

Question Time Report #35

 

 

Good morning Lemmings and boy what fun have I been having with the Internet this week. To cut a long story short, I signed up with Google Webmaster Tools to try and find out how people arrive at this blog through searches and the results are somewhat… illuminating. Here’s a random selection of some of the more colourful search terms that visitors have used of late:

Lesbo lick

Big tit pervert

“my tits”

Big hairy bollocks

Shark tits

Drunk big tits

Super lesbian.

I must confess to being somewhat baffled by the emphasis on ‘tits’ and ‘lesbians’ as I’m pretty sure that neither of these words feature that regularly in my Post Question Time Match Reports (although I’ve probably just doubled their frequency by listing them here… more unsavoury search traffic plz), but who am I to argue with the omnipotence of google?

Enough of this and onto the matter in hand: Since I had so much fun last week turning Question Time into a marine tragedy I thought we’d keep it vaguely surreal this week and try to figure out what sort of pub this week’s episode would be and what sort of booze would represent each of the panelists. I know, I know, it clearly sounds like some straw clutching is afoot here, but let’s face it, this was a bollocks episode.

 

Health warning given, let’s start with Chris Huhne who I’ve always thought (with the addition of comedy teeth) would make a serviceable chipmunk impersonator (see Fig.1). It’s those big old cheeks of his: They just cry out to stuffed full of policy initiatives that can then be wheeled out in times of cognitive famine. Anyhoo, if Chris Huhne was to be a drink, I’m guessing he would be something along the lines of Directors Bitter. I say this because there’s nothing inherently offensive or unreasonable about him, it’s just that he’s hardly the most thrilling brew in the world, what with always being vaguely dependable but never really in the Zone of Excitement. Take this week’s performance: It was all pretty straight forward, ‘doing my best for the team’ sort of thing that never seemed in danger of ruffling any feathers (although his repeated banging on about how he used to be a journalist did grind my gears a little) and although he did seem to win the day over Chuka Umunna in the civil liberties question, it was such a protracted and well-behaved exercise in I’m Quietly Making A Pointery that I completely zoned out and nearly nodded off before I remembered that I’d agreed to buy a house the day before and had a complete ‘OH FUCK’ moment. Even the repeated open goals that Katie Hopkins so gracefully offered up were dealt with such understated peevedness that I wondered whether it might be worth getting a runner to check that he still had a pulse. So yes, that’s Chris: A thoroughly mundane pint that tries ever so hard to pretend it has a whiff of something special about it. Chris, you’re fooling no one.

 

Chris huhne chipmink

Fig.1

 

Moving swiftly on we have Chuka Umunna who, by rights, should be a mojito. Think about it: He’s fresh, he’s got the looks (as Will Self pointed out in a rather disturbing episode of gushing) and he’s very Zeitgeist, ja? Well, unfortunately for Chuka there’s a small problem in that someone forgot to put the bloody rum in. All the other ingredients are there in that he appears cogent, clever and refreshingly young but the spark’s missing and as a result, his performance (like Huhne’s) was technically fine but ultimately sterile, particular for a week when the opposition were holding all the cards. Sort it out Chuka… There’s the makings of something great in you, but nice packaging and popularity with the in crowd will only get you so far. You need rum. Lots of rum.

 

Bringing up the rear of the party politicos we have Edwina Curry who I think may well be the subject of my earliest political memory: The Salmonella Crisis. Maybe it’s because it was on heavy rotation with John Craven’s Newsround or maybe it’s because I’m a massive egg fan (I REALLY like eggs. I can’t tell you happy I was when the ‘only 2 eggs a day’ rule was recently pooh-poohed), but for some reason the salmonella story has always been a very enduring memory for me. Anyhoo, in stark contrast to both Huhne and Umunna, Curry’s signature drink certainly isn’t lacking in the hard stuff and if I had to guess it would probably be a potent and slapdash combination of gin, blood, stomach pills and cranberry juice (please, don’t try this at home. Blood is quite difficult to get your hands on without receiving a call from your local mental health services). Technically, it wasn’t the best and we’re politically miles apart, but it had plenty of what the other two were missing and that’s vim (I even caught her air-punching at one point). Sure, it’s a little tart and long-term use would certainly lead to some pretty profound health risks, but hell, it gets you pissed and it seemed to work for John Major. Oh…. Ew.

 

Sally forth and we get to the non-politicos, the first of which is the ever vexing Will Self. Now, in drink terms he’s difficult because on the face of it, he seems very top-shelf, like some triple refined, 40 year matured boutique bourbon that you have to take a Coolness Test in order to buy. The packaging is reassuringly recondite, the marketing on your wave length yet when you actually crack the bottle open you don’t find bourbon. Instead, you find piss and vinegar. And that’s what annoys me about Will Self (as I’ve mentioned in the past): I totally agree with him. I want to like him. I want to be in his gang, but as soon as he opens his mouth all I can hear is the nails-on-blackboard sound of belittling and too-cool-for-school sarcasm dribbling down his chin. On paper, there’s nothing he said which I wouldn’t have totally endorsed myself but the manner in which he said it stripped away all the meaning and just left you with the acrid stench of self-satisfaction. So, I for one won’t be knocking back any of Will’s patented juice in the foreseeable future, what with it essentially being an overpriced and over-hyped measure of human waste and mouldy wine… But I’m sure it will be massive in Shoreditch.

 

Still with me? Well done. Here’s your reward: Ladies and gentlemen, I gave you Katie Hopkins, plumbing new depths in an already packed field that includes the like of Vorderman, McKenzie and Griffin. Trying to figure out what sort of drink she is turned out to be an exercise in simplicity and I arrived at the answer within a matter of seconds: Clearly, Katie Hopkins is a bucket of sick. Here’s why.

Equating everything to how it is in some way bad for small business in the same way that the Daily Mail equates everything to cancer/house prices.

 

Condemning near universally accepted civil liberties as somehow being a case of “terrorists over taxpayers”.

 

Scandalous deployment of the overly dramatic *sigh*

 

Accusing womankind of being in a “flap”.

 

“Cleggypoos”?

 

Having a pop at Karen Brady for being the leader of “the Sisterhood”.

 

And the real kicker: Claiming that “women couldn’t handle equal treatment if they got it”. Awesome. Well done, Fucknut. You thoroughly deserve the loudest torrent of boos since the fabled BNP encounter.

 

So yes. Katie is a bucket of sick. A bucket of sick with no redeeming features. Not a cocktail umbrella, not a straw. It’s not even fresh sick. It’s been in the bucket for weeks. Suck it up Katie, you’re an absolute monster.

 

Wow… that was kind of fun! Unfortunately, it is not to last as I now have the sad duty of now trying to figure out what sort of drinking establishment this Question Time would be. It’s a sad duty because it was a pretty poor show last night and miles away from the giddy heights of last week’s Burnley outing. So, Cambridge, it is with heavy heart that I decree your effort to be analogous with… a Beefeater Carvery (or to readers of a certain age, a Berni Inn). By rights, this should have been great week for Question Time as we’ve had phone hacking, double dipping and sexism, but somehow the combination of panel and crowd led to a stultifying mish-mash that looked like it really couldn’t be arsed. Ok, so people got a bit vocal when Hopkins started undoing centuries of work towards gender equality, but given just how awful she was, I think she got away with it lightly (she would have been tarred and feathered if it had been anywhere else). So yes, it was like a Toby Carvery: Somewhere where you’d never go by volition but end up obliged to on account of some unavoidable yet wanky social situation (the office Crimbo meal springs to mind). The food is heavy, the drink is flat, the toilet smells of pensioners and there is nothing to do to kill time except cramming multiple servings of the carvery down your throat in an effort to gain the maximum value out of your suffering. Bollocks to this, I’m off to get pissed.

 

TL;DR

 

Huhne: Yawn.

 

5/10

 

Umunna: Yawn.

 

5/10

 

Curry: Air-punch!

 

7/10

 

Self: Why?

 

4/10

 

Hopkins: Worst.Person.Ever

 

1/10 (a first!)

 

The Crowd: Kill me.

 

3/10

 

 

So there you go. As I mentioned earlier, I have actually just agreed to buy a house so I’m off to pace nervously and fret about interest rate. If you need me, I’ll be reading the Daily Mail.

 

Next week Lemming, next week…


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