Posts Tagged 'Edinburgh'

Questionable Time #65


questionable time 65 david dimbleby hipster

Good morning Lemmings and gah! Who are all these young whelps with their dubsteps, Nintendoboxstations and soaring rates of unemployment? Oh Jesus, they’re the crowd and not only do they have all of the above, they also appear to be in possession of ‘opinions’ and much more scarily, the vote. Quite how this all happened I am not sure but here we are anyway… Let’s see if we can’t Questionable Time some sense into the little buggers.

It turns out that first impressions don’t count for very much at all…

Having recently been to a few gigs where I was acutely aware of being That Guy (you know, the conspicuously old-looking bloke who’s trying to mask his confusion behind an air of vague condescension, a pint of snakebite and a Dillinger four T-shirt) I thought I knew what I was getting into – yet within seconds of that opening shot where the camera pulls back to reveal the audience I realised that I was barking up the wrong tree. Where were all the neck tattoos and Zelda hair? How come no-ones sporting dayglo trainers and plunging necklines? Why aren’t my senses being assaulted by Lynx Africa and overly contrived synth-led breakdowns in the middle of otherwise serviceable metal songs? WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?

Well, as it happens, they were the sort of young people who don’t knock about at the same venues as embittered thirty-somethings who are desperately clinging on to the illusion of youth. No, instead they all looked like rather well-adjusted types who decline invitations to get pissed in bus shelters on the grounds that their course work is due in six months time and to be honest, that didn’t sit well with me. “Great.” I thought as I desperately scanned the crowd in the hope of at least locating a solitary goth or maybe a Citizen Smith type. “The Chess Club have finally triumphed. Roll on the Snooze Fest”.

As it happens, my fears were misplaced and as the show unfolded I actually started to find myself getting a bit starry-eyed. It started with the guy who used the first question on internet surveillance as a vehicle to demand Blair be tried for war crimes. “Yes!” I thought to myself. “That’s exactly the sort of tenuous leap into the realms of absolutes that I would have made at your age! Go on son!” Then came the moment when the independence question dropped and neatly divided the audience into two equally belligerent opposing camps. From here on in everything went into panto overload with claps and boos drowning each other out – and it wasn’t just your standard ‘Hummener-hummener-hummener’ type chunterings that you tend to get with adult audiences either. These were proper boos, proper cheers, the sort of noises that people make when they actually believe in things and can envisage what a better world would look like. Lemmings, I hate to admit it but I think I may have experienced an emotion not a million miles away from ‘hope’ by the end of the show.

So that was all rather lovely but before moving on a pair of special mentions are in order.

1. The lad who had a pop at “Glorious England” and our routine persecution of Scots: It was a dumb move that saw him receive a righteous beat down but I will say this: There was an odd dignity in the way he took his licks. It was all in that look of resigned defeat that I like to call Opinors Remorse.

2. And who can forget the young man who posited that Scottish independence would bring us “one step closer to finding aliens” only to be rewarded with a volley of incredulity from none other than Dimbers? There’s a lesson in all this fellah, a lesson that I learnt the hard way: Those little scenes that play out in your imagination, you know, the ones where you get all Carpe Diem and dazzle everyone with your audacious whackiness? Yeah, they rarely work out like that…

Guess we’d better do some panel then…

I’ll keep it brief for the main three: Angus Robertson did The Big Man thing and did so with varying degrees of success, Ruth Davidson gave us another rendition of the Plucky Underdog and more-or-less got away with it while Anas Sarwar basically mulched his way through but did display a few rare moments of something-or-other.

As for the other’s, well the sight of seeing the UK’s two leading providers of demagoguery (one – Galloway – who sincerely and profoundly believes his own hype while the other – Farage – can’t believe his luck that others sincerely and profoundly believe his own hype) temporarily setting aside their mutual hostility and making common cause against the Tartan Peril was both entertaining and perplexing. It sort of reminded me of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact although I should point out that it (the Pact, that is) really didn’t turn out to be all that entertaining in the long run. Oh, and while we’re on the matter of Galloway, see Fig. 1.

george-galloway-rula-lenska-cat

Fig. 1

And Lesley Riddoch? Bloody good. So bloody good in fact that it rekindled this latent jealousy that I have for Scotland: Things like social justice and equality are treated as something to proud of there, not like in England where they’ve come to be regarded as some sort of pie-in-the-sky fairy tale. Damn you Scots, damn you and your faith in the collective good.

Tl;dr

Davidson: 5/10

(Is) Small

Robertson: 6/10

(Wants sovereignty north of Hadrian’s) Wall

Sarwar: 5/10

(Made it feel like a long) Haul

Galloway: 7/10

(Still has the ability to) Appall

Farage: 6/10

(Is ever the goof) Ball

Riddoch: 8/10

(Was up for a right good) Brawl

The Crowd: 9/10

(Should treat themselves to a pub) Crawl (but only when they are legally old enough to do so).

See that? 9/10? I must be going soft in my old age. Anyway, good episode and next week looks like a total belter as well…. Come on Brand, make sweet love to Melanie Phillips in front of a live studio audience. Right, that’s your lot – apart from a minor nag to go and visit my other site at some point. It’s weird, but… you know…

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #39


question time david dimbleby trainspotting

Morning Lemmings and praise be, I have returned semi-refreshed from my Poland adventures and bearing valuable anthropological insights to boot. That’s right, even when I’m on holiday I’m still tireless working to advance our collective understanding, such is my self evident love of humanity. Anyhoo, the hallowed knowledge of which I speak relates to a weird phenomenon which I first encountered when I went to Poland five years ago: The Poles know that you’re English from a mile away and well before you’ve had a chance to embarrass yourself by attempting to speak Polish. On this visit I was determined to get to the bottom of this (if only to pooh-pooh a friend’s assertion that it was due to the fact that I look like a “homeless wizard”) and was duly presented with the opportunity when a local approached me and my better half and asked (in perfect English) if he could take one of our chairs. “Sure,” I said “but how come you knew we were English?”It is because you smile” he said. “Polish people do not smile.” I’ve since questioned a number of Poles as to the veracity of this claim and the overwhelming response has been “Yes. Polish people do not smile.” So there you go, now you know. Anyway, back to what you’re really here for and that’s Question Time, bought to you this week by the good people of Edinburgh (hence the Trainspotting theme). Before we start though, I best just warn you that I have real trouble following the Scottish episodes. It’s not that I’ve got anything against Scotland, it’s just that I simply don’t care about Scottish politics as it has zero bearing on my life. Sure, I’m over the moon that everyone (except the English) have their own parliaments and all but listening to the ins and outs of what’s hot and what’s not in Holyrood is on a par with pretending to be gripped by a long running and convoluted soap opera that you’ve never seen before. In short, it fuxes my persepshuns. Grizzling aside, it was a weird episode last night. By rights, the LibDems and Tories should have been all over the show given how, as well as the now usual ambient noise of the economy falling off the edge of a cliff/cutsogeddon, there was also the small matter of competence thrown into the mix, what with the whole SAS/evacuation/Venezuela business that’s been going on. However, I must say that both Michael Moore and Annabel Golding defied the odds and seemed to get out of the studio relatively unscathed. In the case of Moore, this was accomplished by being the most un-Lib Dem Lib Dem I have seen in a long while. I say this because I still live in a world where my idea of an average Yellow Corner candidate is a well-meaning, clog wearing peacenik who lives on nothing more than positive vibes and Janis Joplin LP’s (I realize that last May’s election rendered this assumption obsolete overnight but old habits die hard). Anyhoo, Michael Moore isn’t one of those Lib Dems. No, he’s much more of a heads down, ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’, Wagner listening, shit kicking muscular Lib and he spent the best part of last night taking the fight to both Douglas Alexander and Nicola Sturgeon. Ok, so he faltered slightly when the matter of the Barnsley by-election result question came up but it wasn’t a trouncing and he left the show with the bulk of his dignity intact. Granted, his uber-belligerence isn’t entirely my cup of tea, but given the backdrop, the boy did pretty good (not withstanding a -1 modifier for wonky deficit invocation).

Similarly with Golding, while it wasn’t a stellar performance she did manage to keep on an offensive footing thorough most of the show and pulled off a quite brilliant duck-and-weave when she managed to totally avoid the whole Barnsley ambush by whittering on about “candy floss” and other unrelated matters. Usually this sort of chicanery is easily spotted and dealt with, but for reasons unknown, she got clean away with it and thus avoided the now routine Tory dilemma of whether or not to gloat at bad news for the Libs. I’m inclined to mark her down a little for being the first to bring up al-Megrahi as it’s beginning to annoy me that all Scottish Question Time’s have essentially become ‘al-Megrahi Time’ for the last year or so but credit where credit’s due, she did accomplish the heroic feat of holding her own as a Scottish Tory. And that, dear Lemmings is not to be sniffed at. Moving on to the other side of the electoral divide we have Wee Danny Alexander who I had very high hopes for tonight. Not only does he have a long and distinguished track record for being ‘quietly effective’ (and they’re the ones to watch, especially the Scottish ones. Alistair Darling, anyone?) and has managed to ride out the Brown/Miliband transition without as much as breaking a sweat, he’s also had a very good week, what with his epic zinging of Hague in the Commons. However, I must say I was disappointed with his outing as he never quite seemed to get the bit between his teeth and appeared to be caught very off-balance by the fact that pretty much everyone was gunning for him in one way or another. The result was that he was the one who looked like he belonged to a government on the skids and the coalition candidates looked like the bringer of greater things which on a week where there were open goals positively littering the field of play, is pretty inexcusable. Sure, his style is much better deployed in situations where he’s got the space to develop his attacks from a quiet whisper and into a less than eye-catching but nevertheless relentless juggernaut, but he never really looked like he got hold of the initiative last night. So come on Wee Dougie, up your game next time or face the risk of ‘quietly effective’ being replaced in the public conscience with ‘quietly forgettable’. Next in line we have Nicola Sturgeon who continues to strike me as the slightly odd girl at school who would eshew her peers’ love of Just-17 and Mad Dog 20-20 for the far manlier callings of judo practice and orienteering. I also bet she wore walking boots to school. Don’t know why, but that’s what my gut’s telling me. Anyhoo, she didn’t have a bad night and did manage to pull off a very impressive bait-and-switch where she managed to sound a little contrite about al-Magrahi before totally dropping Labour in it, a nifty little ploy that she pretty much got away with. However, I do find that just underneath the surface there always seems to be this edge of panic with Sturgeon and I’ve seen it in Salmond as well. As I said earlier, I really haven’t the foggiest when it come to Scottish politics but every time I see the SNP on TV (which in practice means either Sturgeon or Salmond as there doesn’t appear to be anyone else from the party who’s allowed in front of a camera) I get this feeling that they’re only just holding it together and that privately, the sensation of being on a heavily listing ship scares the living crap out of them. I caught it out of the corner of my eye during the al-Magrahi bait-and-switch: Seemingly, Sturgeon was steaming ahead with the audience behind her but you could tell by the way her eyes darted about for threats and the slight cracking of her voice that she wasn’t entirely convinced of her chances of success. Still, not a bad outing for her and she would be well within her rights to go out and buy herself a nice yet utilitarian present (possibly made of GoreTex) as a little ‘well done’ present. Ok, we’re getting there. Wait a second, what’s this? Another political panelist? I think Scotland is now intentionally trying to wind me up. Having said that, the panelist in question, Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens turned out to be quite the performer and this despite the fact that the spectacles/waistcoat/baldy head combo make him look like he’s just wandered out of a Steampunk convention. The thing that impressed me about Harvie was the way in which he managed to stay on the right of the sincere/sanctimonious line that has long been the undoing of many a Green. He also managed to articulate what the audience seemed to be thinking on all the foreign policy questions (which is that we’re essentially hypocrites. And so we are) and he managed to remain above most of the political name calling that went on. Ok, so he does a far greater latitude than the other politicos but I was left thinking that he seemed a pretty decent and clever guy who knows exactly what he believes in. Maybe I won’t nuke Scotland when I am King. Right, that’s the inordinate amount of party political panelists done with so now for the ‘comedy’ one which this week takes the form of Nick Ferrari. Prior to the show, I was going through my routine google images search for pshop fodder when I stumbled across this highly disturbing shot of Ferrari and Vanessa Feltz engaging in what appears to be a kiss. Shocked and repelled by this glimpse of Hades I swiftly shut down my browser, showered for several hours and prayed that I may unsee the horror that had beset me. Initially, I thought I’d got away with it but that was until earlier this morning when I was startled to discover that if you look closely at Albrechts Durer’s The Horsemen of the Apocalypse you can clearly see the same diabolical scene re-enacted at the foot of picture. Don’t believe me? Then check this out (see Fig. 1).

nick ferrari vanessa feltz apocalypse

Fig. 1

Weird, huh? Anyway, back to the subject in hand and let’s face it, there isn’t that much to say about Ferrari other than he doesn’t exactly go in for subtlety. His MO’s pretty much as follows: Start every rant with “It’s utterly/absolutely scandalous/ridiculous/appalling”, proceed to look like you’re on the verge of some coronary infarction, disregard any nuance and deploy the final set piece which will hopefully involve a reference to the Nazi’s winning the war and all of us speaking German”. Seen through this narrow lens, he had a belting night and not only managed to invoke the Nazi/speaking German wheeze but also managed to finesse it with a mention of Dunkirk. However, when seen through any other, slightly less rabid lens it all just looks a bit wanky and one-dimensional. Still, I can take comfort in the fact that he probably doesn’t sleep, haunted as he is by the recurring visions of Feltz moving in for that final, torrid meeting of lips. Eww… I think I should stop going down this road before I do myself a mental mischief. So yes, bit of an odd show and one that didn’t exactly grip me as if the subject matter wasn’t something very Scottish it was all very foreign affairs and we’ve had quite a lot of that of late. The crowd themselves weren’t too bad but their affections seemed quite evenly split so it never got the point where someone on the panel achieved the critical mass needed to go on a really epic rampage and lets face it, that’s what we’re all really watching for. Actually, maybe I will nuke Scotland when I am King. Tl;dr Moore: Bruising 6/10 Golding: Cruising 6/10 Alexander: Snoozing 4/10 Sturgeon: Confusing 5/10 Harvie: Oozing 7/10 Ferrari: Losing 3/10 The Crowd: Boozing 5/10 And that’s that. I’m off to send my cats mental with the bottle of liquid catnip I bought yesterday whilst listening to Turbonegro at high volume. I know how to have a good time. Next week Lemming, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #22


Speed QT Reporting...

Morning Lemmings. Slight change of format this week because as of now, I am officially on holiday and not just in a ‘me and Jalf are going to stay up all night hammering tf2 with our nerdy headsets on‘ type way but in a proper ‘I’ve got a week off work and I’m outta here!’ type way. So, as you can probably imagine, kicking off my jollies by feverishly slaving over a keyboard until gone midnight isn’t the most appealing prospect and as a result, tonight’s instalment of LCCPQTMR will be oh so short and oh so sweet. Go!

The Menu:

Q1. Since most people voted against the coalition, what mandate do they have for the cuts?

Q2. Should we have confidence in an Education Secretary who doesn’t check his own homework?

Q3. Do you agree with the US on the need for an inquiry into the Libyan prison release?

Q4. Should the withdrawal from Sangin be seen as a retreat?

Q5. Does holding the AV referendum on the same day as the Scottish elections conform to David Cameron’s ‘respect’ agenda?

In The Yellow Bit Of The Blue/Yellow Corner: Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland and generally unknown quantity.

Ahh, bless… Another generic LibDem n00b is sent out to soak up some punishment on behalf of their Brand New Best Friends/Dark Coalition Overlords. After the perfunctory Greece!/Debt!/Labours Mess!/Econogeddon! roll call it all went decidedly pear shaped as everyone with the exception of Forsyth tore a strip off him and kicked sand in his face. Boos ensued, attempts at a semblance of a defence floundered and he finished up looking very much worse for wear. Welcome to the Corridors of Power, Mike!

A ‘taking one for the (extended) team’ of a 4/10

In The Red Corner: Douglas Alexander, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development and card carrying Scottish Labour Mafia member.

Even though Wee Dougie looks like a miniature replica of an actual person, he did manage to make a better fist of this ‘opposition’ malarkey than Johnson did last week. Having said that, making Labour hay in Lothian isn’t exactly akin to mapping the genome or curing cancer, but it was a serviceable enough outing. Sticking closely to Labours’ post election Divide and Rule/Wind Up The Libs playbook, he got a few good claps in without ever once being in danger of looking charismatic. He also looks a little like Alan Titchmarsh. Just without all the smutty novels. I hope.

An even keeled 6/10

In The Blue Bit Of The Blue/Yellow Corner: Lord Forsyth, ex-Secretary of State for Scotland and Stone of Scone liberator.

He may be Scottish, but by God is he Tory. Making no pretence of being an unreconstructed Thatcherite, Forsyth used some wonderfully extravagant analogies to crank up the Deficit Scare Factor (‘1.3 trillion! 46’000 years at a pound a minute! 200 trips to the Moon and back!’) whilst standing idly aside as Mann was savagely mauled. His message didn’t exactly go down too well, but points are deserved for being brutally, unflinchingly true to his kind.

An unshakably contrary 5/10

In The Pale Yellow corner: Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister for Scotland and sidekick to Churchill The Insurance Dog.

The slightly tomboyish Nicola Sturgeon joins us once more, but this time the Blame Everything On Westminster ploy seems to have lost some of it’s magic. Whilst occasionally getting some crowd love here and there for the odd pop at her London based foes, she also came a cropper a number of times herself, notably on Q2. The last ditch tactic of squealing ‘Trident!’ was deployed a few times, but overuse made it look slightly iffy by the end. Also, why is that I can’t help thinking she was the captain of her school hockey team? Maybe it’s the eyebrows.

A slightly sketchy 4/10

In the I’m The Funny One/Just Like You Corner: Ed Byrne, comedian and….erh….comedian.

Ed Byrne has a propensity to annoy me with his lurking smugness that only just manages to partially submerge itself, but I must say I was quite rapt by his ‘Yay for Keynes!’ turn on Q1. It tailed off after that, but the crowd had made their minds and from their point of view, it was all fireworks and icecream when ever he opened his mouth. Good result for the hairy, specky one.

A crowd pleasing 7/10

The Crowd: Edinburgh

Given the truly inordinate levels of pantomime applause and booing in this episode, I had to check to make sure that I hadn’t gone back in time and arrived at the 16th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party, Ed Byrne wasn’t Stalin and Michael Mann wasn’t a Troskyite Stooge. The odd thing was that when the camera panned out at the end of the show, it revealed the crowd to be tiny and for the most part, sober. So yes, it was a very busy affair and without a doubt, the Audience Member of Note goes to the weirdly androgynous ginger thing who told everyone to “get a grip” whilst looking to be on the verge of tears/death. Well done, that man/woman/whatever.

A fervid 8/10

Aaaaaaaaaand that’s it. I’m afraid next week’s LCCPQTMR is slightly up in air right now and is almost wholly dependent on whether my dear friend, the Megabus, gets me back home from my hols in time to watch the show. The ticket says it might, a tenner says it won’t. However, I can in full confidence say that normal service will definitely resume the week after and that’s just as well as it will be the last episode in the series. After that, I’m free! Free from Dimbers evil clutches to fill my Thursday and Friday nights with…erh…erh…. I’ll get back to you on that one.


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