Posts Tagged 'Lewisham'

Questionable Time #83


questionable time 83 david dimbleby toes

Good morning Lemmings and assuming you and your homestead haven’t fallen victim to the Great Sogginess (it used to be called ‘Christmas’), welcome back to Questionable Time. So, where are we? What’s going on? Who are these people? Why is that bald man waving a credit card around and when did Lewisham became the QT equivalent of a squat party? Well, I’d be lying if I said I knew but let’s just pretend that I do and indulge in some wild speculation.

Letdown #1: It makes me sad when Nad isn’t that mad…

…Because there’s so much potential there that it just seems like a crying shame when she makes it through an hour without saying something completely beyond the pale. It’s also especially galling in this instance as her opening (complete with grumpy chunterings about how she had to go first) was so off the Blue Team’s message that she looked like a shoe-in for a meltdown. Proposed Tory plans for the welfare state? Codswallop and balderdash! The mansion tax? Bloody good idea! Whose side are you actually on Nad? I have no idea! Perhaps aware that this wasn’t the best way to curry favour with her colleagues she then tried to make up for it by appending the phrase “Vote Conservative!” to the back-end of every sentence she uttered in the immigration question but her new-found enthusiasm sounded a little odd next to content that might as well have been lifted straight from UKIP manifesto (and by ‘manifesto’ I actually mean a colouring book where the only available colour is white).

So that bade well right? She was on the Mel-P trajectory and all that was really needed was a final push in order to truly unleash the crazy. The problem was that the final push never came and in truth, it never does on QT because despite all the headlines and bluster Nadine is essentially quite normal. “Normal?” you say “The woman who ate sheep’s testicles in the jungle and wrote an official looking blog that later turned out to be “70% fiction”? This is normal now?”. Well, alright the testicles thing was pretty weird but if you look at her background she really is just a regular person with a clutch of fairly normal right-wing values who grew up in common-garden circumstances and held down a standard issue job. What makes her look odd is the company she keeps – the Blue Team don’t do ‘normal’ in the literal sense of the word so she always ends up looking like the oddest clam on the beach when in fact it’s actually the other way round.

Anyway, all this is by-the-by as the end result is still the same: Rather than going off the handle, Dorries sort of held it together in a somewhat tetchy fashion and made it to the end without incensing everyone in a ten-mile radius. Two miles maybe, but the full ten? Disappointingly, no.

Letdown #2: Norm is also normal.

So it turns out that Norman Baker – the Lib Dem’s conspiracy theorist in chief who inexplicably landed in the Home Office after poor old Jeremy Brown and his panda were told to vacate the premises for no good reason whatsoever – is in a band. My initial reaction to this discovery was along the lines of ‘please say it’s some widdly-widdly Rush-like space noodling outfit’ but again my hopes have been dashed. No, after spending an afternoon where I effectively doubled The Reform Club’s Youtube views it’s my sad duty to report that far from belonging to some avant-garde exercise in sounds that only dolphins can hear, Norm’s band are instead the sort of pub rock ensemble that requires the audience to wear waistcoats, make a fuss about real ale and trade anecdotes about how they once saw Van Morrision arguing with a bus stop (see Fig. 1).

norman baker geddy lee

Fig. 1

I bring this up because like Dorries, Baker should – what with his clutch of niche causes and nose for the untoward – be a QT star, yet his performance was so quietly mundane that you often struggled to remember that he was actually there. I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on him as his whole appointment to the Home Office does smack of an exercise in giving him enough rope to hang himself with but really Norm, a little more weird wouldn’t go amiss.

Paul Nuttall and Lewisham: A match made somewhere other than Heaven.

UKIP seemed to be on to a winner during the last run of QT: Put the frighteningly sane Dianne James on whenever it’s a southern based marginal, Nuttall for anything north of Stafford that’s near a motorway and Farage for all other occasions. It was working because Nuttall’s brand of ‘ordinary bloke saying what we’re all thinking’ works really well in those towns which would never in a million years vote Tory yet have also fallen spectacuarly out of love with the Red Team (your Blackburns, Darwins and Stokes). But the same trick doesn’t work when you transpose it to screamingly Right On and cosmopolitan Lewisham. No, you just end up looking like that weird guy who a friend brought to your birthday party and then promptly abandoned when he started shouting about Romanians. Hard luck Paul, back up the M6 you go…

Where’s this Chuka been all my life?

Another week, another chance for me to wheel out my standard charge sheet against Chuka Umunna – mainly that everything he says comes across as stilted, over-rehearsed and lacking any real fire – except that I’m not going to this week. Instead I’m going to give the him a gold star for acting like an actual human being with his response to the Mark Duggan question. It was great – thoughtful, considered and most of all genuine. True, this was his episode to throw away given just how bloody tribal the Lewisham crowd are and there were periods where he lapsed back into his default position of regurgitating the latest policy brief but I’m going let that slide if only because it was nice to see that he is capable of displaying tangible emotions rather than his regular schtick of rhetorical box ticking.

And the winner of Best Newcomer 2014 goes to…

…Susie Boniface, aka the Fleet Street Fox. Alright, so it’s not exactly a crowded field when it comes to dishing out that award but her factual ducks were presented in a tidy row, the delivery was firm without being self-righteous and she really did make Paul Nuttall look like a bit of a tit. Winner winner chicken dinner!

Tl;dr

Baker: (Sub)dued

4/10

Dorries: (Less) booed (than expected)

4/10

Umunna: (Judged the) Mood (just right)

7/10

Nuttall: (Is) Screwed (south of the Potteries)

4/10

Boniface: (Is clearly a) Shrewd (cookie)

8/10

The Crowd: (Spend most of their time in the) Nude?

5/10

And so our story ends but not before I have a slight dig at the crowd for giving the Biased BBC brigade enough ammunition to keep them in bitter sounding blog posts for the next year. Oh well. Can’t have it all I guess. Right, I’m off to quietly weep about how few people want to buy t-shirts in January. Seriously guys, buy t-shirts… They’ll be the only dry clothes you get until at least August.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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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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