Posts Tagged 'Clarke Carlisle'

Questionable Time #20


questionable time 20 david dimbleby mona lisa

Good morning Lemmings oh God, this is going to be a little trickier than I anticipated. You see, the problem I’ve got is that is that I spent my whole week lulling myself into a false sense of security for the following reasons:

      1. Dewsbury is just down the road from me, I’ve covered it before and was pretty confident that things would pan out in a certain way.
      2. Whilst I didn’t (despite strenuous efforts) manage to get on the show myself, I did manage to insert a spy into the audience in the form of the redoubtable @smokethiscity. After a week of intensive QT coaching and espionage training I deployed my little Manchurian Candidate to Dewsbury with a clutch of pre-prepared questions and a communication device (see Fig. 1). Advantage Loudribs.
      3. Thanks to my new-found knack for subterfuge I also gained valuable prior knowledge with regards to the composition of the panel. Given that they were all repeat offenders whose foibles are well documented I was now supremely confident that I had the drop on this week’s episode.

Fig. 1

So yes, I had it all figured out. Starkey would be insufferable, Clarke would flounder but everyone would be very kind to him whilst the politicians would provide me with the regular meat and potatoes I need to make a decent Questionable Time. For once I was holding all the cards and I’ve spent most of this week looking forward to a nice, easy Friday write-up that would call for very little effort on my part. So why am I sitting here right now feeling like my brain’s about to explode? Here’s why:

1. Bloody Starkey

I think I can be forgiven for simply assuming that David Starkey was going to be a breeze to write-up this week given that the man’s a vortex of absurdity who seems to grab every opportunity to get a little repellent and theatrical with both hands. In fact, I could pretty much get away with giving him a good kicking in today’s Questionable Time as he did spend a disproportionate amount of time accusing audience members of “insolence”, having a go at the French for being smelly ingrates and being told (very firmly no less) to shut up by Dimbers, all of which is exactly the sort of dickish behaviour we’ve come to expect from him. The problem is that even though I would very much like to stick the boot in (not only would it be easy, it would also be incredibly fun), I just can’t bring myself to because in actual fact, he came out with some good stuff last night. HEY, WHERE ARE YOU ALL GOING?! COME BACK! I KNOW IT SOUNDS CRAZY BUT HEAR ME OUT!

Ok, still with me? Good. Let’s start with the NHS question. Now, as Starkey rightly pointed out, we as a nation get a little bit crazy with the Cheeze Whizz whenever the topic of health is bought up and in no area is this tendency more pronounced than that of GP’s, Unimpeachable Bastions of Moral Integrity that they are. Here’s the thing though, I used to work in primary care and while I can confirm that the vast majority of GP’s are Hard Working Pillars of the Community there is also a minority that are, for want of a better word, Money-Grubbing Bastards. It’s not a nice thing to say but it’s true and there are many practices out there that use every possible trick in the book to squeeze as much as they can out of the NHS for their own personal enrichment. Given that suggesting such a thing in public is only slightly less socially-acceptable than telling children that Santa’s dead, it takes a certain amount of guts to shine a light on this issue and Starkey deserves some credit for that.

Similarly, he also had some worthy stuff to say on the segregation question, particularly when it comes to the thorny issue of what do we do when the rights of two minorities collide (which in this case was the right of the gay community to be gay and the ‘right’ of a small section of the Islamic community to hate people being gay). Now, this is an area that most people shy away from because not only is it loaded with emotion, it is also savagely complicated and littered with squares that can’t be circled without some very hard and very painful soul-searching. Yet again though, Starkey had the chops to bring it up.

So here I am in a quandary: On the one hand I simply can’t get past the fact that watching Starkey is like watching an enormous trifle made of bile and that all the histrionics (“he thinks he’s Moses!”) do nothing to lessen that perception. However, I have to admit that unappealing as it is, that trifle does – in places – actually taste quite good and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s even a hint of nutritional value in it. Ah, bugger it. I can’t keep this of level cognitive maturity up… Here’s a puerile photoshop of a very fruity looking David Starkey circa-some-time-in-the-mid-’80’s (see Fig. 2). There, that feels better.

david-starkey-1980s-sailors-gif

Fig. 2

2. Clarke Carlisle absolutely blew me away.

Ok, I confess. I spent the first part of this episode being an absolute snob towards Clarke Carlisle. “Awwwwwww…” I thought out loud, “Look at the little footballer fluffing his careful rehearsed lines and looking totally out of his depth. Bless.”. So yes, again I was lulled into the notion that he’d be a doddle to write-up as he was performing exactly how one would expect a footballer on QT to perform. Then the segregation question landed and I was forced to instantly STFU for from this unassuming figure gushed a torrent of utter brilliance. Seriously, his response to that question hit so many nails on the head and did so with such obvious passion that I was completely taken aback. I can’t even remember exactly it was that he said but the way he said it put an instant song in my heart and for the first time in God knows how long I actually felt myself actively rooting for a panelist. So I’m sorry Clarke Carlisle. I’m sorry for being snobby and doubting you and I’m also sorry for that time when I inadvertently made your name a high-ranking result for the search term ‘pissflaps’. BFF’s?

3. The other panelists mattered not a jot.

So with all this Clarkey-Starkey business going on, I guess it’s fair to ask how our three political panelists did and if I’m being honest, there’s not a great deal to tell. Part of this was that because it was a very evenly split crowd so no-one really got the upper hand at any point, but it’s also because it was a very middle-weight panel in which the combatants were quite evenly matched. Sure, John Redwood was (as always) a little weird, Rachel Reeves a little over-briefed and Jo Swinson a little unbalanced by some torn loyalties but no-one really buggered anything up and nor could they really make their voices heard over Starkey’s shrill rhetorical antics. As a result I’m awarding all the politicos an arbitrary ‘5’. There’s no shame in it guys… Mediocrity is under-rated.

TL;DR

Redwood: 5/10

Largely fine.

Reeves: 5/10

I can’t whine.

Swinson: 5/10

Pretty benign

Starkey: 6/10

Bit of a swine

Carlisle: 8/10

Did shine

The Crowd: 7/10

Contained a spy (who dropped me a line).

So there you go, despite all my efforts to play puppet master and have myself an easy Friday my efforts have been in vain. Clearly myself and @smokethiscity aren’t CIA material. On a rather more sombre note, I’d just like to take this opportunity to say a fond farewell to Bob Franklin, a regular commenter on Questionable Time who sadly passed away last month. I always greatly valued his support, opinion and kind words and my thoughts are with Di, Toby and Rupert.

Next time Bob, next time…

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Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #34


Morning Lemmings. So then, the traditional title picture and title itself all seem to indicate that things are back to normal at this end, right? Wrong! No Lemmings, I’m afraid to say that I’ll be messing with the format yet again, mainly in the interests of keeping these reports a little shorter and thus emancipating me from 6 hours chained to a keyboard every Friday night. As a result, those of you with strong OCD tendencies may find themselves all at sea but my advice would be to view this as a form of treatment: We’re pushing the boundaries, breaking new ground, feeling the fear and doing it anyway…this is our Brave New World. Anyway, if this sudden wrenching away of the familiar leaves you feeling out-of-sorts, please feel free to let me know but if you couldn’t give a toss (and I strongly suspect that 99.9% of you don’t) then sit back and prepare thyself for what turned out to be quite the epic Question Time last night. Welcome, Lemmings, to Burnley.

Perhaps the best way to describe last night’s Question Time is to look at it as some fraught tale of maritime woe. Imagine if you will a dingy, probably named ‘Coalition’, adrift in the ocean and occupied by the now very guilty conscience of the Liberal Democrats, Simon Hughes and the ever fishy (what with all the expenses, nannies and whatnot) Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Caroline Spelman. Life on the Coalition isn’t that fun. Neither of them really wanted to sign up for this trip, the dingy appears to have sprung a few leaks of late and there is no disguising the fact that Hughes and Spelman clearly can’t stand each other. Nevertheless, here they are and for the most part, they at least try to make a pretence of some united front, even if that means extended bouts of lying to themselves.

But wait a second…what’s this? Two triangular fins, poking above the water and moving erratically? Clearly they were shark fins and if I’m not mistaken, they belonged to the well-known man eaters that are Gorgeous George Galloway and Malcolm Tucker Alastair Campbell! Sensing that some first class flesh tearing and access to carrion action could be in the offing, a flock of seagulls began to gather whilst another boat containing Clever Footballer (purely on account of appearing on Countdown… the bar’s pretty low, OK?) Clarke Carlisle approached from a safe distance.

I nearly went with "FUCKCHOPS"

Fig. 1

Oi! You guys down there!” squawked the gulls, “What do you think about Alan Johnson resigning and Ballsy getting the job?”

We bloody love it!” growled the sharks in unison. “Balls is just as sharky as us and he’s going to duff Osborne up good and proper! Go sharks! Go sharks! Go sharks!” Sensing that things probably aren’t too rosy when the killers of the deep circling your boat start chanting “Go sharks!”, Spelman did her best to look imposing and immediately launched into the now well-past-it’s-sell-by deficit/’living beyond means’ spiel, but failed to convince anyone that she wasn’t heading for a sticky fate in a matter of moments. Hughes however, knew that this was a doomed venture and instead tried to placate the sharks (by paying “tribute to Alan Johnson in passing”… He’s resigned Simon, he’s not dead) before bopping the marauders on the nose with a well delivered ‘Balls = Brown’ jab, much to the amusement of the seagulls.

Then something weird happened: Just as it seemed that it was only a matter of time before the good ship Coalition would be condemned to a toothy death, another onlooker (called David Starkey no less) chirped in with a question about the Iraq Inquiry and all hell broke loose. Suddenly, the sharks lost interest in mauling the Coalition and instead squared up to each other, much to the visible relief

of both Hughes and Spelman. The first to lunge was Gorgeous George who lost no time in popping open a bottle of Vintage Dastardly Rhetoric from which he poured references to “establishment stooges” and “war crimes” before climaxing with a shower of likening Tucker Campbell to “Goebbels” and “Lord Haw Haw”. This drove Tucker Campbell into a frenzied semantic defence (and a hairy moment where narrowly avoided confirming that he should stand trial if the Inquiry found him to be a big fat liar) whilst Spelman and Hughes looked on with bewildered delight. Surely these sharks are drunk! Also notable at this point was Clarke Carlisle’s first intervention (that wasn’t based on purely sports based analogies) which involved a rather impassioned tract about his cousin being in the forces and how those in power should be “held responsible”. The seagulls loved that and heartily brayed their approval before throwing him completely off-balance with a question about the NHS (“I’m not familiar with the complete mechanics”).

Sadly for Hughes and Spelman, the respite did not last and by the time the NHS question got round to Tucker Campbell, both he and Gorgeous George swiftly sobered up, dusted themselves down (if you can ‘dust yourself down’ underwater) and returned to original object of their blood lust. First up was Tucker Campbell with accusations of “broken promises” and the seagulls all bundled in, dive-bombing the coalition in formation whilst Galloway harried their flanks and got Lansley’s name wrong (“Stuart” Lansley?). Presented with this renewed onslaught Spelman did the political equivalent of clicking her heels three times whilst repeating the phrase ‘there’s no place like home’ by claiming she was delivering a “message of hope”. No-one bought it and the beasting continued. Even more interesting was Hughes who was clearly aware of how much trouble he was in and began flat-out pleading with his assailants: “I’m not a Tory!” he wailed to which Tucker Campbell replied “you’re getting there…”. Ouch.

By now, the once pristine dingy was rapidly being reduced to matchwood but worse was to come when one of the seagulls chipped in with a question about youth unemployment, driving his brethren into a maelstrom of murderous intent. Tucker Campbell got the ball rolling by shifting the argument in the direction of EMA’s but to be honest, the sharks were pretty much surplus to requirement as the gulls descended to peck out the eyes of Spelman (who was just whittering bollocks at this point) and Hughes (who finally gave up pretending that he was in any way on board with most of this and was consequently spared quite the hammering Spelman took). Broken, battered and listing heavily, the dingy managed to limp onto the final question about Oldham, but it was clear that they had only just escaped with their lives. Moments later, the gulls dispersed, the sharks got bored and went to look for something else to bite whilst Carlisle weighed anchor and pootled off into the sunset leaving Spelman and Hughes to ponder just how much fun the next four years of bailing/arguing over the freshwater/watching each other pee/mutual loathing would be. A cautionary tale if ever I heard one but a ripping yarn nevertheless.

TL;DR

Spelman: 3/10

I try very hard to be impartial, but something about her just stinks. Lucky to leave the studio alive.

Malcolm Tucker Alastair Campbell: 6/10

Yes, he’s an unrepentant ball of belligerence with a book to plug and possibly a war criminal too, but you have to admire just quite how proficient he is in the Dark Arts.

Hughes: 5/10

A valiant and spirited effort, but it’s actually rather disturbing to watch a man rend his soul apart on live television.

Gorgeous George: 7/10

Pompous and self-serving rabble-rouser that he is, it has to be said that he still represents Question Time Value For Money on a par with Farage.

Clarke Carlisle: 6/10

Actually quite good, despite the nervous start, occasional manglings of his own arguments and inherent sportiness. Kind of makes me feel a little guilty for doing a sarky pshop of him (see Fig.1).

The Crowd: 9/10

A well deserved whopper of a score for the most awesome crowd I’ve seen in ages. Reet Northern, reet pissed off and reet keen to get amongst it. Burnley: Walk tall this week… you’ve bloody well-earned it.

So that’s that. If this slightly different format has left you pining for the old/enthralled by the prospect of a brighter future, feel free to let me know. Oh, and just before I go, remember how I said ages ago that Ed Balls is probably the world’s least effective liar? Well, I think I might have just found the most compelling piece of evidence to date…

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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