Posts Tagged 'Nottingham'

Questionable Time #92


questionable time 92 david dimbleby ramones

Good morning Lemmings and RUN FOR YOUR LIVES, THERE’S A BLOODY PIGEON ON THE LOOSE! Scary stuff indeed but you’ll be pleased to know that not even this impromptu intervention from Mother Nature could stop the behemoth that is QT. No, rather than run the risk of incurring Nick Hewer’s best You Have Disappointed Me So Now I Shall Suck A Lemon face, the pigeon wisely went to ground (most likely in Susan Kramer’s hair) and disaster was narrowly averted. Phew! Mopped brows all round then! Anyway, the following also happened. Observe if you will…

I should like Douglas Alexander but…

At face value there’s much to like about Douglas Alexander: There’s that lovely soft accent, the weeness of his form, those innocent little eyes and the fact that he always looks so very, very clean (which – incidentally – is a trait shared by Jeremy Hunt, possibly the cleanest looking MP in the land). All these things combined with a political career largely free from scandal make him the sort of fellow that it’s very hard to militate any ill-will against, yet if I’m being completely honest I do harbour a certain something against Wee Dougie and it’s taken me an awfully long time to figure out why that is. It’s all about control.

Let’s start with an example: There was a moment in the first question where Susan Kramer said something about the economy being on the mend and you could almost hear the switch tripping in his brain – the switch labelled This Is Something I should Appear To Be Angry About. Anyway, ‘clunk’ goes the switch and out comes this little spiel about how she should be ashamed of herself and that this is no time to be performing “a lap of honour”. ‘Fair play’ you may say as the point itself was not without validity but the way in which he suddenly turned on the indignation made me do a double take because it didn’t sit right. Why? Well because it wasn’t really indignation as indignation is something that issues from the heart, not the head and it can’t be turned on and off at will. This though – this was different: It was a measured, controlled and unfeeling response that had clearly been prefabricated earlier on and was ready for deployment from the get-go. The same goes for when he tried to ambush Zahawi with the small matter of his dealings with private health companies: It was delivered as an unexpected ‘Gotcha!’, an incidental opportunity that he’d just stumbled upon but you could tell that it was anything but that and more likely a part of a very rigid game plan he’d had from the start.

So what’s the big deal here? Am I saying that politicians shouldn’t think before they speak? That having a game plan is somehow duplicitous? Well no – of course they’re going to have a game plan. Everyone has a game plan on QT – that’s just the way it is and thinking is generally a positive thing when it comes to running the country. However, what does rustle my jammies is the way that Dougie can’t quite bring himself to let go and just run with real, unconfined indignation rather than constantly trying to keep it within the strict parameters of what he thinks a politician should look like. It speaks of a man who has somehow got fallibility confused with failing, whose approach to risk is one of aversion and that’s a shame because we actually rather like fallibility – primarily because it’s a confirmation of humanity. Just ask Boris… or Ken… or Nige… or Gorgeous George (etc, etc, etc)…

I shouldn’t like Zahawi, but…

And why shouldn’t I like Zahawi? Let us count the ways.

      1. He was a former aide to Jeffrey Archer.
      2. He’s been less than squeaky clean when it comes to expenses.
      3. He’s at the economically nuttier end of the Tory party.
      4. His approach to most debates is similar to a bull’s approach to china shopping.
      5. He looks like an angry/disappointed potato (see Fig. 1) and his head is a geometric paradox (consistently ovoid from the front and yet a perfect square from the side).
      6. Nadhim Zahawi angry potato

        Fig. 1

nadhim zahawi impossible head

Fig. 2

It’s also fair to say that this performance was so-so, what with his crap joke about Bob Crow falling flat on its face (probably because he planned on eulogising him but got cold feet when Hewer sucked on an almighty lemon about people who didn’t like Bob Crow eulogising Bob Crow) and his flappery about tax avoidance when he himself has been known to use various schemes that ‘help the wealthy minimise and avoid taxes’. However, I can’t help but like him for precisely the reasons that I struggle with Dougie: For better or worse, Zahawi is unabashedly human and comfortably out of control. He screws stuff up, let’s his mouth run away with itself and goes an endearing shade of red when he knows he’s in hot water but at least you are left in no doubt that he genuinely means what he says. True, quite a lot of what he says is totally bonkers but I’d take genuine madness over contrived sanity any day of the week.

‘Tis that time of year!

…For Susan Kramer to be taken out of hibernation and paraded in front of the nation on QT again! Hooray/hoorah indeed! And how did Question Time’s resident tortoise emerge into the crisp light of spring this year? Well, the same as she always does – by talking at the same volume as a tour guide in a service station (not quite shouting but near as dammit) and constantly looking at some unspecified point on the ceiling of the studio. Well done Susan, we’ll see you again in the autumn for the now traditional Bedding Her Down for Winter episode.

All hail Hewer, Long Faced Champion of the Universe…

I’m shorter on space than I hoped so I’ll keep this brief: Steepled fingers, elongated vowels combined with laconic understatement (“Yeeeeeeeeees… Bob Crow. My word”), that weird confluence of ultra-capitalism and social conscience that marked the heyday of New Labour, ungladly suffered fools and a damn good eye for the Russians. God I love Hewer.

Oakeshott and the perils of Telling It Like It Is…

There’s a certain art to Telling It Like It Is and the cardinal rule is not to look so bloody pleased with yourself when doing so. Alas, this point seems lost on Oakeshott who may well have been on to something when she posited that the NHS was essentially bankrupt but the point was lost behind the self-satisfaction of being the first to deliver the bad news (it was sort of like turning up to your burning homestead and being greeted by a grinning fireman). In short, good diagnostic abilities but poor bedside manner.

Tl;dr

Kramer: 6/10

(Talks rather) Loud

Alexander: 5/10

(Should be) Allowed (to get stuff wrong)

Zahawi: 6/10

Ploughed (his way through)

Hewer: 8/10

(Had me on) Cloud (9)

Oakeshott: 4/10

(Is a little too) Proud (to be the bearer of bad news)

The Crowd: 6/10

(Rhyme with all the above).

…So that’s what you get when you cram a bunch of people into a hall with an errant pigeon. It’ll do for me. Right, I’m done and will be back next week, albeit a little later in the day than usual as I have stuff and things to attend to – like desperately wishing The Apprentice was back on the telly.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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Questionable Time #18


questionable time 18 david dimbleby depression

Good morning Lemmings and let’s make this snappy as I have much to do today. Ok, I don’t really have that much to do but I would really like to finish watching the fantastic Russia, Putin and the West for the following reasons:

  1. It’s gripping
  2. Putin is clearly as mad as a box of frogs.
  3. The Russian Defence Minister – Sergei Ivanov – is now my #1 Guy on Earth purely by dint of a) looking uncannily like Christopher Walken, b) leading Condoleezza Rice astray at meetings of great diplomatic import, c) literally telling the Taliban to “F – off” and d) being an all round wag of the highest order.

It’s unfortunately disappeared off iPlayer but a cursory search of youtube should see you right… Get amongst. Right, enough of this off-topic waffle and on to the question in hand: What, dear Lemmings, did we learn last night? This.

1. Despite him being in Parliament longer than I’ve been on this earth, I still struggle to know exactly what John Prescott is for.

Ok, so there’s the obvious things like he’s good at punching people (both physically and verbally) and there was a time when he provided the Old Labour brigade a much-needed sugar-coating to the bitter pill of New Labour but aside from that, can you think of a single thing that John Prescott has done that isn’t about him? As it stands, I am left no wiser by last night’s Question Time as all he appeared to do was grin mischievously whilst lining up a series of well rehearsed jabs for Ken Clarke (rehearsed to the point that he even bought props with him). That this was an entertaining spectacle is of little doubt but I still can’t escape from the fact that once you strip away all the bluster and bombast, there really isn’t a great deal to Prezzer other than an eye for self-promotion (Police Commissioner Prescott anyone?) and a good rhetorical right-hook. Oh, and I’ve totally got his ‘what to do when you’re caught off guard’ strategy pegged: It’s basically ‘deliver a pile of vague and flakey platitudes in the thundering tones of Absolute Certainties’ – like when he said he’d fix the economy simply by chucking loads of money at it. So yes, whilst all the heat generated by his presence was certainly warming, the light was dim and flickering.

prescott clarke boxing

2. I totally get what Ken Clarke is for.

I shan’t go on about this too much as I’ve written plenty about it in the past but the main point of Ken Clarke is to be a Tory who doesn’t fill me with certain dread and for the most part he does this pretty well. However, I can’t help feeling that the poor old sod has grown rather weary of this damnable coalition business and he spent most of last night looking knackered and harried. To be honest, I’d look a little harried if I was being mercilessly assaulted by a lump of Humberside belligerence but I get the feeling that it goes a little deeper than that and all the old boy really wants to do is quietly resign himself to a twilight of gout and jazz 78’s. And well he may for despite being one of the most successful Tory chancellors of all time he is now treated by his own party like a weird and embarrassing uncle that should not, repeat NOT be allowed anywhere near 6th form girls college without strict supervision. You deserve better than that Ken and should you ever feel the need to disappear in a fog of cigar smoke, I for one will be entirely sympathetic…

3. Dimbers clearly doesn’t like Susan Kramer.

Ok, so I’m not exactly a card-carrying member of the Susan Kramer fan club and her QT appearances always end up being a bit ‘meh’ but for Christ’s sake Dimbers, cut the woman some slack! Sure, she didn’t exactly bring a great deal to the show and yes, her hair is quite terrifying but did she really deserve a full hour of shirtiness and being cut off mid-sentence? I think not. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of Dimbers, that insect tie: No.

4. Owen Jones is clearly the frontrunner in the race for Angry Young Man of the Year award.

So this was Jones’ first ever appearance on QT and boy did he do well. The trick with him is that not only is he self evidently very bright but he also does the whole Righteous Indignation thing with considerable aplomb and without appearing to be an unhinged wingnut (a la the likes of Douglas Murray and – if he’s having a bad day – Mehdi Hassan). That the crowd loved him is without the slightest doubt and barring a late surge from Liam Burns, the new President of the NUS (and very much one-to-watch in my opinion), that Angry Young Man award is in the bag. Now, naturally all of the above should inevitably lead us all to believe that I’m going to award him top marks at the end of this post but I’m afraid I can’t quite bring myself to do that for the following reasons:

  1. No-one is ever going to get top marks on Questionable Time as I feel it would set a dangerous precedent.
  2. He’s five years younger than me and that is manifestly a perversion of cosmic justice.

‘Jealous’ you say? Well maybe just a little.

5. Julie Meyer is actually the worst Question Time panelist I have ever seen.

So I just said I’d never give out a 10 on Questionable Time and until last night, I felt the same about giving out 1’s for very much for the same reason: It creates an artificial hard ceiling/basement that can only ever be equalled but never bettered. In the past I have stuck rigidly to this rule and even the most wanton displays of wrongheadedness have escaped without the shame of being 1’d. For example, remember when Carol Vorderman went from being a relatively-innocuous-if-creepy-dork-turned-vamp to a screaming-torrent-of-reactionary-twaddle? Yeah, she got away with a 3 that time and even Melanie Phillips at her most poisonous has never sunk below a 4. Why? Because although I consider both to be pretty repellent figures, I can actually figure out what they’re on about. Julie Meyers? Well, I got the impression that she likes “entrepreneurs” and all things “digital” but beyond that, your guess is as good as mine. That on its own would push her deep into ‘2’ territory but it’s what she represents that really irks me: That weird collision of Big L ‘Fuck You’ Libertarians with the nebulous/vacuous world of ‘e-commerce’. Now, I find hard-line Libertarians to be a weird enough bunch in the real-world but when you slather another coating of unreality on them in the form of the internet then they stop making any sense whatsoever. Julie Meyer is the living incarnation of this unholy nexus, a walking absurdity who lives in a rickety virtual construct of her own making and has no place opining on matters that pertain to the real world. So here you go Julie Meyer, here’s a gift from one “digital native” to another: A big fat ‘1’.

Tl;dr

Clarke: (A little) Flabby

6/10

Prescott: Jabby

6/10

Kramer: (Got treated a little) Crabby

5/10

Jones: Grabby

8/10

Meyer: Shabby

1/10

The Crowd: Blabby

7/10

Well, well, well… A Questionable Time first. Please take note of your surroundings so that you can spin a good yarn when your grandchildren ask “where were you heard that Julie Meyer got a ‘1’?”. You’ll thank me when this situation inevitably comes to pass. Right, I’m off to watch more despotic shenanigans with Mr. Putin…

Next week Lemmings,next week…


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