Posts Tagged 'Camilla Cavendish'

Questionable Time #118


qt 118
Good morrow lemmings and a very merry Dimblemas to you all! We’re in Canterbury for this edition, and lemme tell ya, it’s a real doozy. What even is a doozy. I don’t know. This is merely the first bout of confusion and distress you are no doubt about to experience in this week’s razzmatazz rendition of Questionable Time. Onwards!

There are actually more women on this panel than men, but who cares about that! It’s time to let the chaps speak for once. Where would we be without them

First up is a question about petty adversarialism. It is somewhat predictably answered by…petty adversarialism? Actually, no, for these are the five minutes at the beginning where everyone pretends to be ‘mature’ and ‘diplomatic’ before inevitably descending into the standard shit-slinging that goes on every week. When will they learn? At this point panellists shouldn’t even try to fight it, but should get their shit in early.

Panellist number one is Niggle Farridge. This is a man who needs no introduction, so I won’t give him one. He looks like the hhhehehe lizard of some internet repute. He also mentions that he experienced twenty years in business, which he no doubt spent most of heheheing. With, like, a cigar…and a pint…or whatever…yeah. Quality satire!

Panellist number deux is Russelly Wusselly. He has the wild hair and eyes of a discombobulated lion being poked in an illegal zoo. He calls ARE NIGE a ‘dude’ and then a ‘fella’ while bemoaning the state of absolutely everything. He gets a little too carried away about, oh…[checks watch] seven minutes in and Mary Creagheyyeyaaeyaaaeyaeyaa has to smack him down to remind him not to call women he doesn’t know ‘love’. Russell apologises. He is working on it. He tearfully tears away a page in his calender – it now reads ‘there have been 0 days since your last mildly sexist incident’. Tragic. And he was on such a winning streak.

Penny Mordaunt is also here. I have no idea why. She was plonked on immediately after her truth-or-dare swearing in Parliament fiasco, where she made copious references to a rooster, as I seem to recall. Apart from this COCKsure upstart (look ma, I can demean democracy too!) we also are in the presence of Camilla Cavendish, Times columnist, who will be performing the role of ‘obligatory even-handed journalist type’ for the duration of tonight’s programme. Riveting!

Speaking of swearing, Nigel waxes lyrical about Australia – not just their immigration policies but the way they all flip each other off in the chamber. Meanwhile, in contrast, Penny continues to be boring. ‘There are many great debates in Parliament’, she says, or something like that. I don’t remember. Probably not any of the ones she was in. Unless she started going on about poultry again.

I think it was here my troubles began

The next question is when people clearly started to hallucinate due to the spiked QT sandwiches. It’s about overcrowding – Nigel agrees that we are far too full, like post-Christmas dinner bloat, and it’s for that reason he can’t get anywhere on the motorway.

Dimbleby turns his head. It is time for a response.

…Does anyone else have the sneaking suspicion that Russell Brand is not a great fan of Nigel Farage? There’s only one way to find out: FIIIIIIIIGGGGHHHHTTTT!

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

While Russell declares Nigel to be the biggest meanest rotten old racist in the world, Nigel bites back by rolling his eyes – but not even with any particular malice, which is just rude, to be honest. At least give me some classic insults to work with here. Russell even comes out with an admittedly great line about Nigel being a ‘pound shop Enoch Powell’ which I predict will be all over Twitter graphics in the weeks ahead. He even reads a teeny tiny pre-prepared note, which is quite cute, and tries to get the other panellists to acknowledge some rather alarming statistics, which they of course all valiantly fail to do. Nigel even chortles and shakes his head along the way! OMG, rude! Look, I don’t care if you also think Russell is being rude, this is exactly the kind of petty adversarialism you all tutted about ten minutes ago. Somebody please take the moral high-ground, quick.

But apparently this was not to be. Two audience members almost get in an actual, real-life fight. A Kippery sort of gentleman rails against Russ – apparently in order to campaign for/against anything you have to actually get elected to Parliament first, so I guess we should all start working on our election pledges – before a woman in the back row goes for him. And I mean freakin’ goes for him.

‘ES A RACIST

‘ES NOT

I’M COMING FOR YOU FARAGE

What does it mean to truly live a life?

This woman is bafflingly not escorted out of the premises, but needless to say a great many Kipper Komplaints to the BBC were made tonight as well as many warm-throated drunken student cheers. Grievous Bodily Harm Woman is now a living legend in the making. I’m A Celebrity 2015 awaits.

Camilla calms us all down, and Mary mentions Labour balancing the books or whatever new wacky catchphrase they’re trying to force now. Nigel thinks Labour are a bunch of WEAK BABIES. Then GBH woman interrupts another person, who was going on about vetting and not the type that has kittens.

David Dimbleby is clutching his head in pain.

Where are the Lib Dems? Crying in a corner

Time for some NHS screeching! Hooray!

Mary mentions the Conservative and Lib Dem health bill – wait a minute, there aren’t any Lib Dems on the panel for her to point the finger at. Where are they, anyway? Well, someone had to get kicked in order to make room for Ye Blessed Nige. Sorry Libdibs, that’s life!

What is privatisation? We just don’t know. Dimbles repeats something the Lib Dems pulled out of their bums about a privatised hospital which still had an NHS bid in the running when Labour left office. I mean that’s not the greatest argument in the world, sure, but it is in fact an argument. This is something more than Camilla can do, who doubts that proper privatisation exists ever and that it’s not so bad even if it did. Even Nigel disagrees, what with his new MP posse voting for the repeal of the Health and Social Care Act in a recent debate ‘n’ all. The whole ‘looking at different systems’ thing was just an idle daydream he had one day. Like a homosexual fling at university, he’s over that shit now.

After Russell’s brief drift into becoming a werewolf earlier in the programme, he’s back to acting sensible again. He points out some more figures, which he’s becoming surprisingly adept at doing, about the 70-odd MPs who stand to gain from the privatisation that definitely isn’t happening. Penny reminds us all about how much she cares about a four letter word staring with c: care. An old man in the audience then raises the subject of NHS workers’ pay being crapola while MPs dance naked under golden champagne fountains. “I completely understand that,” says Penny, to general giggles.

Five minutes remain, which is apparently enough time to tackle the subject of grammar schools. Russell answers with something entertaining but off-topic, while the others try for boring but on-topic. Nigel of course is in favour of bringing grammars back, because they are apparently completely classless and 100% meritocratic. Heckus yeckus.

Meanwhile: Penny sends us back to sleep, Camilla demonstrates middle-of-the-roadism to an almost unbelievable degree, and Mary is basically your sensible aunt trying to soothe the array of crying children back into watching Frozen for the 357th time. The usual holiday cheer.

Then it ends.

Thank you. Thank you for ending.

(Immediately afterwards there’s an advert for a programme on drugs starring…Russell Brand. Looks interesting actually. More interesting than this programme.)

Time for the scores, and they’re a little special this week to celebrate the sheer ridiculousness of this episode and to prevent Nigel Farage’s fanboy fraternity from coming after me with torches and tweets.

Farage: Bathtub/10

(His party is no longer) Small

Mordaunt: Wombat/10

(Good at) Stall(ing with naughty words)

Creagh: Space Jam/10

(In for the long) Haul

Cavendish: π/10

(Has an unchallenging type of) Drawl

Brand: Heat death of the universe/10

(Gawd bless ‘im,) Y’all

The Crowd: 10/10

(All-out) Brawl

We’ll be back on the 8th January for some more Dimbletastic fun. Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and Season’s Bleatings from all of us here at Questionable Time! Do let us (that is to say, me) know what you thought of this first run under new management. If I suck, I’ll go and retire like Gordon Brown and make a mint on after-dinner speeches. It’s the honourable way.

Next year Lemmings, next year…

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Questionable Time #95


questionable time 95 david dimbleby propaganda starburst

Good morning Lemmings and welcome to Meta-Questionable Time, a blog based around the events that transpire in Meta-Question Time – a television show in which David Dimbleby chairs a debate between politicians that focuses on a debate between politicians that was chaired by David Dimbleby earlier on in the week. Confused? Well don’t come crying to me because you bought this on yourselves, what with your Twitterbooks and Myfaces and Pinstergrams. This is a post-modern nightmare of your own creation and I for one will have nothing to do with it other than the 1000 words I’m about to dump below this paragraph. There, is that meta enough for you? Good. Let’s get on with this.

Vince brings a new pathology to the table…

It’s fair to say that the experience of coalition has been a harrowing ordeal for the Lib Dems but some have fared better than others. For example, in between handing over his dinner money to Tory prefects and being jeered by those uncouth Labour plebs Danny Alexander can look back on the last four years and say ‘Well, at least I got these snazzy new contact lenses out of the deal’. Vince though, what’s he got to show for it? Nothing. In fact, he’s got worse than nothing – negative nothing if you will – because prior to entering government, he was the man of the moment, the All Knowing Sage of Financial Catastrophe whose every word we hung on as the world we knew crumbled before our very eyes. Fast forward four years though and what have we got? Vince, the Reluctantly Co-opted and Self-Loathing Bagman who has taken to insulting his own injuries by being the poster boy for the officially fishy looking privatisation of the Royal Mail. Oh what a fickle mistress coalition is.

Anyway, all of the above is clearly a bitter pill to swallow for someone like Vince so it’s reasonable to expect him to be a little grumpy when called to account for how he’s played a shockingly bad hand – except that he didn’t seem grumpy. No, in fact he didn’t seems to be anything in particular other than serenely detached as he very slowly walked us around the deal like an estate agent casually explaining away the lack of a roof with phrases like ‘outdoorsy ambience’. It was completely without guile – no-one’s to blame/just one of those things/stuff that happened – and reminded me of something you occasionally see as a mental health worker: He was displaying classic signs of dissociation.

To the uninitiated, dissociation is where you slowly start to become detached from reality (as opposed to wrenched from reality – that’s the territory of psychosis) and quite often this is because reality has become a thoroughly nasty place that you no longer wish to be a part of. Looking at Vince last night, the way he was just floating there – like he was viewing himself in the third person – it reminded me of cases I’d worked where people had folded the world into a box and shipped it to somewhere outside of their psyche.

So this should be a cause for concern right? Shouldn’t we be phoning someone up? Making him an appointment or something? Well, not quite. Had this been the case all the way through the show then yes, I might start rifling through my address book but right at the end he came charging back into his own skin with the rallying cry of “Pupil Premium!”. Now, let’s briefly ignore the fact that the Pupil Premium is a fig-leaf policy that has zero-recognition with the general public and just take it for what it was in this context: It was an affirmation that there’s still a part of Vince that has a stake in reality and for that reason I won’t be calling in any favours with colleagues of mine. Still, if I was Vince I’d see this trend towards detachment as nature’s way of telling me that I might need a new job and as it happens I know a place with a few openings right now (see Fig. 1).

vince cable postman

Fig. 1

Shock abounds as someone actually has a good idea on QT…

I didn’t think I was going to get on very well with Camilla Cavendish – she looks too hard-of-head/long-of-neck/smart-of-cookie to sit comfortably on the Ribs Train but I have to admit that her idea about putting the prices on the side of medications was actually brilliant and almost bullet proof in terms of counter arguments. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that her whole innings was pretty impressive and despite my instinctive twitchiness for black-and-white/wrong-or-right types she was the only person who managed to cut through what was otherwise a very blustery and choppy show. So yes, maybe she could fit on the Ribs Train although I’m not entirely sure she would want to as I don’t put the prices on my tickets and the view of this uninspiring siding wears a little thin after a day or two.

Kwasi’s slowly learning…

There was an interesting moment for Kwasi ‘Fair-to-Middling’ Kwarteng when it all could have gone wrong: The question about paying for GP’s appointments came up and you could see this little internal warning sign flick on – ‘DON’T SAY WHAT YOU’RE REALLY THINKING’. Granted, I can’t say with any certainty what he was really thinking but seeing how he’s one of the Britannia Unchained authors I think it’s fair to assume it was something along the lines of ‘Everyone should pay for everything’. Anyway, he caught himself before going off the deep end and gave an oblique answer peppered with pointed references to rising demand and life expectancy instead. It was a nice little dodge that more than enough made up for him saying “Really?” to Peter Hain at least a five times in a row. So this week he’s no longer Kwasi ‘Fair-to-Middling’ Kwarteng. No Lemmings, this week he is Kwasi ‘Middling-to-OKish’ Kwarteng. Try not to be dazzled by his mediocrity.

T’was a torrid night for the left…

I feel bad being hard on Peter Hain but the whole Moral High Ground Followed By Obligatory Mea Culpa routine just riled me a little last night. It’s not that I think he’s without conviction (far from it in fact), it’s just you get the sense that he’s in the process of cashing in his chips and the fire you need in your belly to make that play work is just ebbing a little (the senior moments – like forgetting who Nick Clegg was – didn’t help either). Still, he didn’t rile me as much as Julie Bindel did by saying all the right things in a way that instantly makes them sound wrong. Yeah, yeah, yeah, someone needs to ‘tell it like it is’ but it would just be nice if they could do so without adopted the form of a giant wagging finger.

Tl;dr

Cable: 5/10

Eerie

Hain: 5/10

Weary

Kwarteng: 5/10

Nearly

Cavendish: 7/10

Clearly (won)

Bindel: 3/10

Dreary

The Crowd: 6/10

(Subscribe heavily to the Marginal Revenue Productivity) Theory (of Wages)

Woah, so that was all a little Vince heavy but hey, whatchagonnado? Nothing, that’s what – except possibly coming back next week where I will once again be trying very hard to like Billy Bragg and most likely failing.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #47


Questionable time 47 david dimbleby weather map

Good morning Lemmings and well done: You have (I assume) survived the Mayan apocalypse, navigated your way through the choppy waters of Christmas and somehow safely emerged into the cold light of 2013. You must be very proud. Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends as the Christmas truce is over and now it’s back to the relentless, maddening grind that is Question Time. Yeah, I know, those three Thursday nights where you weren’t screaming at the telly were cherished moments, free from rancour and strife but they could never last, not in a month of Sundays. No, all we can do now is huddle in our foxholes and hope for the best as the opening volleys of the new year do their ghastly work. Welcome back Lemmings, it’s time to get questionable.

I see two figures grappling in the wilderness…

The wilderness isn’t a great place to be. It’s barren. It’s featureless. It doesn’t even have a Greggs, but – for his sins – this is where John Prescott has been exiled to. The reasons for his banishment are simple enough: With the collapse of the Blair-Brown project there’s no longer a need for a figure who spanned the gap between New and Old Labour and as a consequence, John Prescott has ceased to be useful. In fact, he probably ceased being useful quite a while back (the PCC elections were pretty much his last roll of the dice) but last night provided him with yet another chance to prove his worth.

So did he? In a word, ‘no’. The problem with Prescott is that he physically embodies all the properties of the phrase ‘gravy train’ and serves as a walking reminder to voters of why exactly they fell out with New Labour in the first place. Sure, in terms of pure rhetorical pugilism he’s still able to go the distance (too far a distance if Dimber’s constant telling off’s are anything to go by) but this can’t mask the fact that he’s deeply tainted – to the point of toxicity – by all the murkier parts of New Labour’s legacy. All the wars, the cosiness with the city, the cahoots that were gotten into, they all required a little bit of John Prescott and for that reason he’s just too culpable to be useful any more. So hard lines John, it looks like you’re set to roam the wilderness for the time being. Unless of course you punch someone. That’s tended to work in the past.

As it happens Prescott wasn’t alone last night as there was another panelist trying to find her way out of the political tundra and that panelist was Nadine Dorries. Now, Dorries has been excommunicated not on account of her utility but for her dangerousness. Her problem is a) she’s mad as a box of frogs, b) the press know she’s mad as a box of frogs and indulge her more than your Common Garden Backbencher and c) she gave her party a cast-iron excuse to remove the whip by going on IACGMOOH. However, it must be said that in terms of escape plans, last night was pretty good. For a start, she reined in some of her battier tendencies and refused to be drawn into matters like her stance on abortion and she also made a relatively (‘relative’ being the operative word) good fist of the ‘do politicians court celebrity?’ question. Alright, so it wasn’t a stellar performance but given that she’s the most divisive of figures who was at the mercy of a crowd all hopped up on local hospital closures, it could have been worse. My prediction? She’ll be back in the tent before too long. Why? Because last night proved that she can hold it in when she needs to… Or at least long enough to get to the to flap and aim outwards.

I’m becoming oddly attached to Ed Davey…

Here he is, the Adult In The Room. You may not have noticed it – what with all the panto shenanigans of Prescott and Dorries – but there was an actual politician on the show last night, the sort of politician who takes his job very seriously and the sort who if he finishes all his allotted tasks on time may just celebrate by having an extra Digestive before going to bed. Ok, that was cruel (particularly in light of how well boned up on Lewisham’s ongoing hospital woes he was) and I feel bad for mocking Ed Davey because he’s exactly the sort of politician we say we all want – diligent, committed and in it because ‘someone has to’ – yet automatically pick on because they seem a little…. well… square. Consequently, I find myself becoming rather attached to Ed Davey in the same way I’m attached to my toaster: My world wouldn’t fall apart if they/it went missing but things would seem marginally trickier in their absence.

John Bird would get me as far as Burton-on-Trent…

So, what to say about John Bird, founder of The Big Issue and self-styled “working class Marxist Tory”? Well, on the one hand he was great: Outspoken, assured and with the back story to back it up but on the other, he failed the Exeter St. David’s to Leeds test. For the uninitiated (which is all of you) this is a hypothetical hoop I throw people through when I’m not 100% sure of our long-term compatibility: At what point on that train journey would I be secretly wishing that I could just listen to my iPod? In the case of Bird I reckon we’d have a fine – nay, cracking time – until about Cheltenham Spa. We’d talk, I’d find his bafflingly contradictory political self-definition intriguing and we’d even go so far as to crack open a spur-of-the-moment tinny. This state of affairs would persist until about Birmingham New Street. By then his innate confidence would start to irk me, the beer would have left me with a cotton mouth and the conversation would start taking on a very one-sided aspect. By Burton-on-Trent, I’d have broken and sloped off to another carriage under the pretext of a toilet break. I’m not proud of the above but it’s better that we’re honest about these things.

Camilla Cavendish should ask for her money back…

It must be gutting: You get on QT, start saying a bunch of fairly reasonable things, find your stride and then BAM! You get cut off. That was pretty much how it panned out for Cavendish and while my gut tells me that she seems pretty legit, I never really got the chance to find out. I did, however, discover that not only did an audience member look vaguely like me, he was also wearing the exact same outfit. Thanks for freaking me out, you massive imposter (see Fig. 1)!

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

 

Tl;dr

Davey: 6/10

Dependable

Prescott: 4/10

Expendable

Dorries: 5/10

Extendable

Bird: 7/10

Amendable

Cavendish: 6/10

Commendable

The Crowd: 7/10

Bendable?

So there it is: A nicely gee’d-up little romp aided and abetted by a crowd all stoked on local issues. Now here’s a goofy pshop of Nadine Dorries being chased by a shark while John Prescott looks casually looks on. I made it when I was sure that Prezzer was going to trounce Dorries. Oh, hindsight… What chaos have you wrought? (See Fig. 2)

nadine dories shark john prescott

Fig. 2

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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