Posts Tagged 'Diane James'

Questionable Time #74


questionable time 74 david dimbleby passed out

Good morning Lemmings and welcome to Energy Prices Time, a live debate show where members of the audience spend at least half an hour getting animated about oldsters swapping heating for eating while the Blue Team keep repeating the word ‘tariff’, the Red Team keep repeating the word ‘freeze’ and the Yellow Team don’t bother to show up (what happened to Charles Kennedy this week? Must have ‘missed his plane’ again). This brave new broadcasting venture started three weeks ago with a rather promising pilot but has subsequently gone to seed and left me yearning for the good all days of Euro Crisis Time – a similar show that ran for at least two years before finally being put out of its misery by Phone Hacking Time. Those were the days…

 

I’ve been Reverse Afriyied!

So last week I ended up in a bit of a bind by a) not doing my homework on QT virgin Adam Afriyie, b) jumping to conclusions based on a Wikipedia article/Google Image search and c) having all those conclusions rubbished by a rather good QT performance. Clearly there’s a lesson in all of this and had you been dealing with a diligent blogger you may have expected me to learn it. But you’re not dealing with a diligent blogger – you’re dealing with a slipshod Internet Goon who takes a perverse delight in never, ever learning anything the first (or second… or third) time around. As a consequence I’ve done exactly the same thing to QT virgin Mark Harper although this time the results were somewhat different. Observe the process.

 

Step 1- Homework: A brief glance at his Wikipedia article...

Ok, so what have we got here… Comprehensive kid turned Oxbridge grad, grown-up job upon leaving… Blah blah blah… On the Tory front bench since 2005 – wait, 8 years? Where’s he been hiding all this time? Whatevs – blah, blah, blah – hates Europe, loves Israel – blah blah blah – oh hang on, what’s this? Ended up in hot water for some borderline insinuations about disabled benefit claimants? Central protagonist on the wrong side of the ill-fated forest sell off? And the brains behind the So Tory That Parody Has Turned In On Itself ‘Go Home’ vans? This could be interesting…

 

Step 2 – A Google Image search for ‘Mark Harper MP’…

Alright, so in goes his name… *Click* – WOAH! CHECK OUT THAT SMILE! It’s… It’s… Well I’m not quite sure whether it’s ‘winning’ or ‘shit eating’ but it’s certainly ‘something’. This changes everything.

 

Step 3 – Make rash assumption based on adding Step 1 to Step 2…

This guy must be a live wire, a maverick – maybe even a bounder! I mean c’mon, the combination of way-too-close-to-the-bone-remarks/policy initiatives and that Something Smile (see Fig. 1)? He’s going to be a riot!

 

mark harper go home teeth

Fig. 1

The result: Being wrong. Again.

There was no live-wirery, negative mavericknessnous, inverse bounding and a complete absence of the Something Smile. Instead we got a Should Work On Paper performance where he tried to do all the right things (e.g. someone says ‘you’re not doing enough’ and you then list all the things you’re doing) while neglecting the fact that we don’t really care about what you’re going to do – that’s what the news is for. No, this is QT and QT cares not for matters of the head. It does however care very much for matters of the gut – you know, the knot in the stomach, the smell of fear, the twitching of the eyes – and that’s the bit that Harper completely bypassed by doggy paddling his way through the show, trying very hard not to get into trouble. Did he make it to shore alive? Mostly. Do I feel like I have a better sense of who Mark Harper really is? Not in the slightest.

 

He’s a Doctor don’t you know?

Every time I’ve seen Tristram Hunt on QT I’ve always been left with the sense of a man who’s deeply uncomfortable at after work drinks. Everyone else – all half cut by half six – are living it up but Tristram can’t settle: The music’s too loud, Wetherpsoon’s always sets him on edge and while he’s fond of his co-workers they simply don’t know enough about 19th century social history to make him feel at ease – that, and he’s fretting about whether or not he set The Culture Show to record. The result of this has always been a slightly jerky, overly self-aware QT style which always makes him seem a little off kilter. However it now appears that if you make this man Shadow Education Secretary and then ask him questions about education you get a very different outcome: Suddenly he becomes fluid, assured and – dare I say it – impassioned – all of which is a marked improvement over the usual spectacle of him queezily nursing a pint of Fosters and explaining to his colleagues that he doesn’t watch football. True, we may have to leave aside the fact that he sounded scarily like Michael Gove when it came to content but apart from that it was nice to see him look so comfortable. So go on Tristram, The Macarena’s on and the last bus has already gone… Don’t fight it, feel it…

 

Someone in UKIP is wasting their time…

I bring this up because there was a little giveaway at the beginning of her first two responses: She started both answers with a very stilted ‘Thank you [audience member name] for bringing this up’ as if she’d been told to do so. Now, why UKIP are bothering giving her press training I don’t know because she’s a) pretty capable of handling herself and b) is probably the only member of the party you can put in front of a camera and have a better than evens shot of it not being a complete train wreck. Anyway, she dropped the PR act about midway through and did a half-decent job of appearing to be a functioning human being. Not bad given the company she keeps.

 

Stated Intentions vs Actual Outcome:

 

Bonnie ‘Germaine’ Greer:

Stated Intention – “I don’t have a strong, long, comprehensive answer”

Actual Outcome – Didn’t have a strong, long comprehensive answer.

 

Peter ‘Grumpy Pants’ Oborne

 

Stated Intention – ‘All these guys will lie to you and talk codswallop for the next hour’

Actual Outcome – Aggressively nuzzled Tristram Hunt with tender

affection for the duration.

 

I guess one out of two ain’t bad…

 

Tl;dr

 

Harper: 4/10

Flighty

 

Hunt: 6/10

Brighty

 

James: 5/10

Blighty

 

Greer: 5/10

Fighty

 

Oborne: 6/10

Alrighty

 

The Crowd: 5/10

Good nighty

 

Well, that’s that then… Oh wait, I almost forgot about announcing the winner of this year’s Most Applause For A Meaningless Platitude competition. Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you the bloke who said “I feel for the kids” and was rewarded with a torrent of approval. Well done sir, you must be very proud. Right, that’s me done but if you’re suffering from a bad case of idle thumbs then please feel free to check out what happened when I cut Paul Dacre’s brain in half.

 

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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Questionable Time #63


questionable time 63 david dimbleby aliens colonial marine

Good morning Lemmings and welcome to a very hasty Questionable Time – hasty because I’ve got a plane to catch in a couple of hours and I’ll be damned if yammering on about dork stuff is going to derail my carefully laid plans to access the ‘Sun’. Apparently it’s this giant ball of burning hydrogen that appears in the sky and bathes those below with life-giving rays. I’m personally sceptical but you know… In for a penny, in for a pound. Anyway, I’m yammering and we haven’t even got on to the dork stuff yet so let’s get this road on the show.

Once a Labour Home Sec, always a Labour Home Sec…

Remember Patricia Hewitt? She was that very headmistressy Labour Health Secretary who had a rare talent for winding up health professionals and putting front line noses out of joint, something I can attest to because I worked for the NHS during the back-end of her tenure and found my nose to be as out of kilter as everyone else’s. Hewitt’s problem (other than having to aggressively push through some rather unpopular changes) was that she wasn’t good with people and often came across as cold, jagged and brittle – not really the sort of look you’re after when you’re the head of Britain’s caring professions – and when the news came down that she would be replaced by Alan Johnson you could hear a sigh of relief ripple across the nation’s health centres: Finally we were getting someone who actually seemed vaguely human.

And very human he was. Sure, the policies didn’t change much but we could put up with them because the person asking us to get our knickers in a twist about ‘patient choice’ (which was essentially code for ‘creeping privatisation’) had a warmth and normality to him that never made it seem like he was talking down to us. Fast forward a couple of years and Johnson’s getting promoted to Home Secretary. ‘Hmmmm’ I thought. ‘Maybe, just maybe this is the guy who can get the Home Office to chill out and stop acting like a bunch of heavy-handed paranoid yahoos’. Wrong. WRONG!

No, as we saw last night, Johnson was just as susceptible as any other to that strange disease that’s afflicted every Labour Home Secretary since 2001 and in even worse news, it appears that the affliction never entirely leaves its host – it just lies dormant until someone says the word ‘terrorism’. So it was that we opened last night’s show with Johnson displaying all the symptoms of Homesecretitis – a fever for surveillance, cold sweats of intercept evidence, a clammy sheen of national security clinging to his brow – and it wasn’t until mid-show that the spasms finally passed and he finally reverted back to his normal state of being a generally decent, reasonable bloke (decent and reasonable enough to fight Anna Soubry’s corner on the matter of Friday Deaths in hospitals). But still, it was rather jarring because I really do rather admire Johnson and to watch him suddenly become engulfed in this whole Tough Guy/If You Knew What I Knew act is a little heartbreaking. It also looks very odd when those sentiments come from the lips of a man who displays more than a passing resemblance to David Bowie (see Fig. 1)

alan johnson david bowie

Fig. 1

Soubry’s gradually growing me…

…Mainly because there’s something endearingly amateurish about her. Now, by that I’m not saying that she is an amateur as she appears to have a proper job and everything but it’s the way she’s got a very visible feedback loop. For example, when she sticks her foot in it (which is quite often) she can’t disguise that ‘Oh crikey, I’ve really buggered this up!’ look that flashes across her face and I quite like that as it makes her appear relatively normal. As it happens, she managed not to stick her foot in anything last night but the feedback loop was still very visible: It said ‘Golly gosh gal, you’re really doing rather well at this!’ and again, it made her look like an actual person as opposed to a locked down hack who’s playing it by the numbers. So, while I am a little disappointed that she didn’t let her jauntiness run away with itself and get her into all sorts of trouble, I’ll let her off on the grounds of human authenticity. Next time though I’d like to hear at least one ill-considered and inflammatory statement pass her lips… You know, just to keep her grounded.

I’m not sure if I can cope with a sensible Kipper…

Alright, what’s going on here then? A Kipper who spends 80% of the show not being totally harebrained and only gets marginally wound up about the EU in the remaining 20%? Something’s wrong. The plan has gone awry. Farage promised me clowns but has instead sent a vaguely competent individual who is largely in control of their faculties. I want my money back.

Medhi’s back on form…

I had a pop as Hasan last time for being grumpy (to which he kindly responded by declaring Questionable Time to be “mildly amusing if lengthy”… Fair play Medhi, fair play) but he gets a free pass this week because the terrorism question re-kindled all that passion that made him such a good read back when we were up to our necks in the stuff. It wasn’t just me either: The crowd were very taken with him and that made for a virtuous circle where they geed each other up and gave Johnson/Soubry a right good rollicking. So well done Medhi and if you wish to subsequently describe Questionable Time as “blisteringly funny and of entirely appropriate length”, that would be just fine with me.

And Fellowes?

Not a lot to say except that he harvested all the low hanging fruit and his sentences always sound like they’re teetering drunkenly at the top of a staircase, just waiting to topple over. It’s because he taaaaalks like thiiiiiiiiis.

Tl;dr (And no rhymes because I’m the bloody departure lounge)

Johnson: 5/10

Soubry: 6/10

James: 5/10

Hasan: 8/10

Fellowes: 6/10

The Crowd: 7/10

Hmmmmm, not a bad episode all told. Right, I’ve got to skiddadle for the boarding gate so sorry if it’s been a little slap-dash but normal service will resume in a week’s time.

Additional Note of Minor Import:

It recently occurred to me that I’ve been generating an awful lot of non-QT graphics type stuff and that it hasn’t had a proper home. Rather than watching it traipse forlornly around Twitter and Facebook I’ve finally got round to setting up another site in order to provide it with a modicum of dignity. If you’d like to check it out, you can find it here. On top of that, should you wish to buy the rather fetching Nick Cotton themed greetings card I knocked up, you can do so here.

Questionable Time #55


questionable time 55 david dimbleby apocalypse now

Good morning Lemmings and what wares can I flog you today? Let’s see what I’ve got in this old cart of mine. Hmmm… How about a pair of fairly steady parliamentarians with a liberal bent? No? Too staid, too boring? Ok, what about a couple of ideological headbangers with a proven track record of winding each other up? Ah, I see… You’re still recovering from the Hitchens/Loach to-do a fortnight back and need something a little more nuanced. Well, I’m afraid that the only other thing I’ve got in at the moment is an unknown quantity so fresh to the scene that there’s not enough info on her to even throw together a Wikipedia article. No good? Tell you what then, I’ll do you the whole lot for five minutes of your time and throw in the denizens of Dover for free because I’m feeling generous today. No refunds though. Caveat emptor Lemmings, caveat emptor…

Last night was like Jaw’s: The Directors Cut

It’s one of the best closing shots in cinema – Rob Schneider and Richard Dreyfus, paddling their way to shore on the wreckage of their thoroughly over-sharked boat, elated by their triumph over the eponymous monster and no doubt looking forward to a hero’s welcome. The first few times I saw it, I was happy to let the implied narrative (that it will all be hunky-dory) prevail but on subsequent viewings I found myself strangely troubled. After all, the shore is an awfully long way away, their makeshift raft doesn’t really look up to much and one-dead-shark-does-not-a-safe-sea-make.

I bring this up because last night could well be a template for what actually happens at the end of Jaw’s and it goes like this: Chief Brody (as played by Ken Clarke) and Hooper (Stephen Twigg) are happily splashing their way to dry land when they notice that things are getting a little choppy. Members of the crowd start asking some difficult questions about immigration, a swell develops and the raft begins to list precariously. It’s cool though. They are – after all – both fairly centrist and socially liberal politicians who have spent many years charting these waters and by working together, they somehow keep it from falling apart. But wait… What’s this? The three fins of Crow, Phillips and James have breached the surface and are bearing down on the raft with great vigour, eager to rend flesh from bone with the incisors of anti-EU sentiment. A scuffle ensues. Blood is in the water, the wind is picking up as the crowd move the subject on to the economy and the sharks are circling once more. Tensions become frayed between the two of them. Twigg looks like he wants to shove Ken off the raft but Ken’s inability to endorse Total Austerity with a straight face spikes his gun and they paddle on, praying that something will save them.

Suddenly, Twigg thinks he sees a way out. The third question is about whether UKIP are a threat to the Tories and this could potentially be a life saver: Make common cause with the sharks, serve Ken up to them and then get away while they’re dragging him to the seabed. Unfortunately for him, it didn’t quite work out like that and a jostle about who was to blame for the credit crunch ended in Clarke’s favour. That was of no consequence to the sharks though and once again they launched coordinated attacks from opposite ends of the spectrum. Ken and Twigg’s prospects darkened further as the weather takes a turn for the unhinged: A women in the crowd starts making rash and rather convoluted claims about immigrants that stokes a further surge of ill-will and all appears to be lost. Brody and Hooper: They ‘ain’t never going to make it back.

But then something miraculous happens. As if from nowhere, the subject of the Catholic church arrives and in an instant, our scene of frenzy finds itself becalmed. Melanie Phillips suddenly gets a little rational, Crow makes all sweetness and light while James plays it safe and the formally rabblesome crowd become a picture of tolerance. Relieved, exhausted and a little perplexed, Clarke and Twigg regain their hold on their battered raft and lash it back together with some pleasingly mellow platitudes about other people’s morals. They make landfall, the credits roll and everyone can look forward to being disappointed by Jaws 2.

Yeah, I preferred the original to be honest.

Diane James is still largely unknowable…

During my mainly fruitless hunt for info on James, I did notice that one word kept coming up: ‘Unflappable’. On the whole, I’m inclined to agree as for a first performance, this wasn’t bad at all. Granted, Dover did seem especially receptive to the UKIP line and her explaining away of the 4 million Bulgarians was a little dubious but still, she did manage to sound more together than your average Kipper. Mind you let’s not get carried away as my basis for comparison here is Farage. Most things look pretty ‘together’ when stacked up next to him.

I feel a little cheated by the Phillips/Crow love-in…

Ok, so it wasn’t exactly a ‘love-in’ but I was a little bummed that these mutually antagonistic parties set aside their differences in order to box the ears of Clarke and Twigg. I’m also strangely and perversely bummed that Phillips is ever-so-slowly losing her teeth. Sure, she got fair vexed by the whole EU shebang, but it wasn’t a patch on her mid-War on Terror heyday. Back then, no one could out-crazy Phillips, not by a long shot and in odd way, I miss that: Nothing’s more comforting than absolutely, 100%, knowing your enemy. Now it’s 99% and petty though it sounds, I miss that 1%. Now here’s a.gif of what her computer desktop may or may not look like to prove that I haven’t forgotten about her glory days (see. Fig. 1).

melanie-phillips-wallpaper-gif

Fig. 1

Tl;dr

Clarke: 6/10

(Got rather) Red (around the face)

Twigg: 6/10

(Narrowly avoided being) Fed (to the sharks)

James: 5.5/10

(Could soon become quite) Widespread

Phillips: 5/10

(Still fills me with) Dread

Crow: 5/10

(Has an intimidating) Head

The Crowd: 5/10

(All live in a) Shed?

Alright, so that was a rather raw and bruising episode that raises some awkward question about why a town so completely dependent on open borders despises them so much. I’ll let you figure that out because right now it’s 4:02 AM, nothing’s making much sense and I know for a fact that the Frau Ribs just loves to be woken up by the sound of trodden-on-cats.

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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