Posts Tagged 'Will Self'

Questionable Time #129


qt 129

Good morrow lemmings and I hope you all enjoyed the beautiful solar eclipse earlier today. I didn’t, because a cloud was in the way. A cloud over my heart named Question Time, featuring Dia Chakravarty. So let’s plunge straight in, while I cry, and cry, and cry, and cry, and cry, and cry.

Can’t budge it

Damn, this hall is ugly. At least Chuka ‘Ooh, mama’ Umunna is there to lift our spirits and possibly pose for a shirtless calender. I don’t know what Shirley Williams is wearing though, it looks like a five-year-old’s pretty pink princess dress.

The first question is – duh – on Ye Budgete. Do we or do we not feel better off? Sajid gets us off to a flying start by saying…yes. Yes we do. The slow-cooked economic ham is twerking. We need to stick to the ham. Or words to that effect. However, Chuka slowly explains, as slow as wading through molasses, that the government’s triumphant dancing over their employment figures doesn’t mean jack as zero-hours contracts are undermining the very meaning of twerk. I mean work. I’m going to get that wrong all day now.

A shrieky warble pierces through the air as the entire audience holds its breath in overwhelming fear. Or at least that’s what I did. Yes, Dia Chakrathingy from the Taxpayers’ Alliance is back, and so is her infamous giggly yelp. She, of course, has the answer to all our ills. The cost of living crisis, she meeps, is due to – you’ll never guess – high taxes! Give us more tax cuts, you lazy crap-for-craps! If only those big ol’ meanieheads in Westminster would listen and not get their ears clogged up with blood from listening to my voice for longer than five seconds!

The others look blankly on, contemplating the mysteries of the universe.

Dimbleby turns to Shirley and asks her about the embarrassing spectacle that was Danny Alexander holding aloft a bright yellow lunchbox the other day to prove that he too can play with the big boys and their Budgets. Shirley, perhaps sensing that this was an inherently hilarious occurrence, deftly changes the subject to subtly imply Dia is an idiot. When you’ve been in politics as long as she has, you can get away with that sort of stuff, among other things such as flouncing out of the Labour Party.

Will Self, he of the artful navel gaze, agrees with Chuka on this one. Regarding the cuts to come, you ain’t seen nothing yet, he concludes, especially those to public services. Rumblings from the crowd follow and one angry lady rants about how nobody mentions the poor anymore, instead choosing to focus on that most insufferable and inferred middle-classish of archetypes: the ‘hardworking family’. But you don’t understand, continues Sajid, if hardworking families are happy then the poor must also be happy! It makes perfect sense!

Chuka smoothly slides over this topic like an ice skater, going for Shirley instead with ruthless abandon but she strikes back. This is like a (improbably attractive) teenager fighting with an old lady (about the NHS). Speaking of the NHS, David Dimbleby’s got a bad cough, hasn’t he? Maybe he needs to go and sit in A&E for eight hours too.

Sajid leaps to Shirley’s defence by yelling that Labour suck and have a bad record so don’t bully Nice Mrs Williams! Dia interrupts and squawks about cutting stuff like child benefit. Or perhaps not? I get so confused by this woman, she talks so fast and oft-nonsensically that it’s difficult to keep up with what her train of thought actually is. In fact I think her train of thought has derailed and hit a tree.

So you DON’T want to abolish child benefit?, asks Chuka. Dia replies that no, silly-billy, she actually wants to means-test it! Duhhhh!
“But it’s already means-tested,” he mutters, baffled, as if talking to a child who has shit themselves and is unwarrantably proud about it. Also, his face while listening to Dia LaBeouf rabbit on is possibly one of the top ten funniest things in the world.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Then there’s some nonsense about Wikipedia entries. A man in the crowd makes a jibe about how much Sajid earns, and Will is chuckling to himself like an trim, academic Santa Claus. It’s okay though. All is not lost. After all…Sajid has a snappy comeback ready.

“Don’t believe everything you read on Wikipedia,” he says, “Yours is longer than mine.”

Proving that one never really grows up, the entire crowd erupts in hoots. Sajid blushes like a ten year old girl.

“That didn’t come out right,” says he.
“Don’t make it worse,” says Dimbles, losing the will to live.

Look at this beautiful bunch of bastards

The next question succeeds in calming everyone down, due to being about a particularly unfunny event: the horrible attacks in Tunisia. Nothing like an unforgivable act of terror to make a Question Time panel suddenly feel sheepish about themselves for acting like six year olds.

Chuka claims that we should make sure people coming back from terroristin’ who may have done terrible actions should be subject to the rule of law. Will agrees again, but unavoidably goes off an a tangent about imperialism as is his wont. Shh now everybody, the white dude has to talk about Islamophobia! Meanwhile, Chuka is coming across well this episode, better than he did last time, sensible but finally getting a grip on his unnatural smoothness. Both he and Sajid are clearly angling for their respective party leaderships in the future, or at the least some higher-ranked positions.

At least Dia is always there to bring us back down to Earth as painfully as possible.

I THINK, JUST WHY, she screeches, giving her mature insight into the Middle Eastern conflict. LOOK AT THIS BEAUTIFUL PANEL, she continues, out of nowhere. Sajid nudges Shirley while grinning, obviously pleased the good-looking youngish lady on the panel just called him a fittie.

(To be fair to Dia, she did at least have a good point about not giving terrorists celebrity status. As a proud and graceful Media Studies student, this analysis pleases me. Good job Dia. You get One Point.)

Hice are nice

Next up, controlling rent prices.

We need more houses! begins Dia, starting us off once again I know not why. Everyone nods sagely. Let’s build on the green belt! she continues. The nods stop faster than a crane game at a funfair.

“We don’t build on the green belt, that’s why it’s called the green belt,” says Dimbleby, as if to the same excited child that Chuka previously had to deal with.

Then a member of the audience reminds us what the question really was since everyone seems to have gone off topic again. Sajid thinks a rent cap would make things worse, quelle horreur. He and Chuka have a cat fight before Will Self finally throws down the gauntlet, in his distinctive sarky monotonous voice, by pointing out that it’s highly unlikely that rent controls will be introduced when so many MPs make money off being big greedy renty poopyheads.

Ooooh, goes the crowd. Way to lay down the law, Selfy Stick.

Last question, to massive and predictable applause – why can’t MPs be more truthful? Well, to sum up:

Will Self feels sorry for the poor powerless bastards, Shirley Williams tells us a bedtime story, Dia smiles blandly and chooses not to be cynical, and Chuka and Sajid make up and hug. And kiss. And possibly more. All of this to be continued in my 1000 page forthcoming fanfiction.

Time for the scores!

Javid: 6/10

(Will die another) Day

Umunna: 8/10

(Did surprisingly) Okay

Williams: 5/10

(Not much to) Say

Chakravarty: 5/10

(Easy) Prey

Self: 6/10

#Slayyyy

The Crowd: 7/10

(Hear them) Bray

Next time: Jim Murphy faces his public. Uh…good luck with that.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #71


questionable time 71 david dimbleby agatha christie

Good morning Lemmings and boy am I in a good mood today. Why? Because an old friend who I feared had disappeared from the face of the earth came crashing back into my life on Tuesday, a friend that I last recall seeing sometime around May 2010. That’s right Lemmings, Politics is back! Now, that may sound odd as many of the things we associate with Politics – you know, grown men and women jeering at each other, all the ‘he said/she said/you’re not playing with my toys’ sort of thing – have remained but that wasn’t actually Politics: That was just the political classes going through the motions while Politics quietly switched off its mobile and left a voicemail greeting along the lines of ‘Sorry I’m not available to provide you with distinct and tangible alternatives to the current state of affairs at the moment but you never know, give it a few years and I might be able to sort something out on the front.’. All of that changed on Tuesday when the Red Team finally snapped out of its torpor and actually started talking about those long forgotten things known as ‘policies’. Lemmings, I could have wept with joy.

Anyway, what does this sudden return of my missing companion mean for Question Time? It means a right belter of an episode. Observe.

Finally, the Red Team has a tune to make the Blue Team dance to…

…And oh how Gove danced, pressing Wee Dougie to his chest in a passionate embrace as they whirled and pirouetted across the floor. This came as somewhat of a surprise as I initially thought Gove was going for a ‘damning with faint praise’ line of attack (the chief means a politician has of appearing unrattled when they are in fact very much rattled) but the praise wasn’t that faint at all and extended way beyond energy policy. Miliband? Nice bloke, heart’s in the right place, just a shame that his party is still a well of Brownian Bile. McBride? Terrible business but Wee Dougie’s clean as a whistle. Kenya? We’re on the same page. Granted, he did land some forceful punches here and there (the holding of the blank sheet of paper and claiming it was Labour’s education policy was a nice touch) but the tone was very much one of ‘call off the dogs’.

So what’s going on here? It’s tempting to explain this away with the obvious answer that the Tories, concerned by how much Labour’s new-found backbone in the face of corporate interests is resonating with the public, are preparing the ground to steal (or at least knock off a passable replica) of the Red Team’s energy policy while they still can but this is Gove we’re dealing with: Like him or loath him, there’s no getting away from the fact that he’s a very canny and ambitious operator. No, I suspect this runs deeper than a single policy and relates to the Blue Team’s longer term strategy of boxing Labour into the centre ground with the threat of painting Miliband as ‘Red Ed’. So far this has worked a treat as it’s kept the debate squarely on terms that the Tories dictate and hampered Labour’s freedom of movement but Miliband’s speech on Tuesday represented a huge bluff call on Labour’s part and one that appears to have paid off: ‘Red Ed’ – it seems – is surprisingly popular with the public. Now Gove’s cluey enough to spot a busted flush when he sees one and I’d venture that his performance last night was an attempt to cushion the blow until they can come up with an effective counter and on that front he did rather well. After all, it’s very difficult to look like a genuine alternative to the status quo when Michael Gove is agreeing with the bulk of what you’re saying.

(A Minor Aside: Ever notice how much a young Michael Gove looks like Velma from Scooby Doo? No? Then see Fig .1)

yound michael gove velma scooby doo

Fig. 1

And what did Wee Dougie make of all this unexpected romancing? Well it’s very hard to tell as he only has three facial expressions – Slightly Ticked Off when he’s really fuming, Mildly Tickled when he’s exploding with joy and Vaguely Dahhhhhhh for every other occasion – so we’ll just have to chalk this up as another mystery in the vast unknowable that is the Inside of Douglas Alexander’s Head.

Something sarky this way comes…

Transfixed as I was by Gove whisking Dougie off his feet I couldn’t help but notice another presence in the dance hall – a sneering, menacing presence that should really have been wearing a black leather jacket and playing with a flick-knife. Yup, that’s right, Will Self was on again and as is usually the case he managed to make some of the best points of the show in absolutely the worst way possible. That to my mind is a great shame because it’s rare you get someone who’s so clearly intelligent and outspoken on QT, yet every damn time he’s on he just throws it away by crossing the invisible boundary between Satisfyingly Sarcastic and Oozing Moral Superiority before he’s even finished his first sentence. It breaks my heart Lemmings, it really does. Having said that though, the little panto tiff between him and Gove was pretty entertaining and lead me to spend most of the night thinking about who’d win if they did actually “take it outside”. My money’s on Self… By a whisker.

And what of the rest?

It’s nice to see that The Daily Express has finally stopped pretending that there’s even an iota of impartiality left to fight its way through the wall-to-wall coverage of Diana/Maddy/Seemingly Innocuous Things That Will Kill You by having a Chief Political Correspondent who’s going to run as a UKIP candidate… We’re through the looking-glass here Lemmings. Anyway, how did he do? Well, on the plus side he managed – unlike his recently de-whipped colleague – to not to call any female audience members slags, beat Michael Crick around the head or to write off an entire continent as ‘Bongo-Bongo Land’ . That just left him with the usual Kipper message of a plague on all your houses (a win-win for an Express writer as he could then knock out at least a hundred front pages about the threat to house prices from plagues) but he hasn’t quite got that cartoony aspect to him that make UKIP so fun on QT. Maybe that’ll come through when he packs in the day job. As for Louise Cooper, well she seems game for a laugh, engaging enough and her bit on the price freeze was good. It’s just a shame that she slipped into caps-lock mode with that MY FAMILY ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO ME blather at the end. Oh well, hey-ho…

Tl;dr

Gove: 6/10

(Is clearly up to some)Thing

Alexander: 6/10

(Had a lovely little) Fling (with Gove)

O’Flynn: 5/10

(Employed the standard array of UKIP) Sling(s and arrows)

Self: 5/10

(Is long and thin… Much like) String

Cooper: 5/10

(Did seem to) Wing (it a bit at the end)

The Crowd: 5/10

(Are all fans of seminal early-90’s novelty act The Sultan’s of) Ping (FC)

Now, don’t be fooled by those lacklustre scores because this was a great a show: Meaty, dense and pacey (not to mention the fact that my two favourite stereotypes – a man in an elaborate bow tie and an angry vicar – were also represented). So yes, it appears that not only is my old friend Politics is back, but so too is Question Time. God I’ve missed you guys…

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #21


questionable time 21 david dimbleby john lennon yoko ono

Good morning Lemmings and before we get under way I would just like to take a minute to relate a rather bizarre story that unfolded exactly a week ago today. Having just literally pressed the ‘Post’ button on last week’s Questionable Time I got a knock on the door and found myself confronted by two smartly turned out representatives of the local Labour party. Sensing an opportunity for some gentle mischief I then spent the next five minutes explaining how my ‘Never Vote For An Incumbent’ rule leaves them with an outside chance that I might put a tick in their box at the next election but they had better not count on it because I have a long memory and still can’t quite forgive New Labour for this, that and the other. Rightly sensing that much tastier and lower hanging fruit may lie further down the street (it turns out bearded men in dirty tracky bottoms aren’t the core demographic they are after), they politely took their leave and moved on to pastures afresh. So far, so ‘meh’. Anyhoo, off I went to the kitchen to crack on with the washing up and as I was gazing listlessly out of the window when I caught sight of a small figure moving purposefully down the street. Then something started stuttering in my brain. “Hmmmmm….” I thought as I ran the hot water “why is this seemingly innocuous scene giving me the jibblies? Is the Matrix glitching again?”. Squinting a little as I tried to seek out the cause of this weird sensation I was suddenly deafened by the sound of a thousand pennies dropping. “That’s not…. It can’t be…Wait… No… IS THAT RACHEL BLOODY REEVES?!?!”

Within seconds my mind had gone into complete meltdown: “But… But you were only on my telly a few hours ago and I’ve just spent the whole day writing about you! I must have gone too far. I must have blogged too hard and am now hallucinating about members of the Shadow Cabinet stalking me. Oh my God, this is how it starts! This is how people end up inside Secure Units!” At this point I stopped making conscious decisions and felt the hand of compulsion grab me firmly by the scruff of the neck. Out I went, out into the street and before any of my usual social circuit breakers could kick in there I was, barefoot and hollering “RACHEL REEVES I JUST GAVE YOU FIVE OUT OF TEN!”. The figure stopped in her tracks and turned to face the source of all the commotion. “Bloody hell, that is Rachel Reeves! And bloody hell, she’s coming over here!”

As to what happened next, well that will probably never be known as I was no longer even slightly in command of my faculties but I do remember her saying “Five out of ten?” to which I responded with “Something something Questionable Time! Something something you were just on my telly and now you’re on the internet! Something something something!”. To her credit, she took it in her stride and allowed me to babble on (although I do remember a big neon light saying “SHE’S BLAGGING” pinging on in my fevered brain as she neither confirmed nor denied that she had any idea as to what ‘Questionable Time’ may be) before slowly withdrawing and making good her escape. And there I stood, bemused, dishevelled and not even remotely interested in doing the washing up any more. I gathered myself just enough to put together a garbled tweet and minutes later my phone pings to tell me that Rachel Reeves is now following me on Twitter. Was that the whiff of burning plastic I could smell emanating from cranium? I think it might have been.

Anyway, I’m bringing this up for three reasons:

  1. It’s was really, really weird and I feel compelled to share the weirdness.
  2. I would very much like to take this opportunity to tell all future panelists of Question Time that they best not be getting any ideas and trying this out for themselves. It is not ok to go swanning passed my house on the day that I’m straining every inch of my brain to poke fun at them. It’s not right and there are probably laws against it. Rachel Reeves I can forgive: She’s my local MP and as a consequence she has a hall pass but the rest of you guys? No. It’s not on.
  3. Recounting this tale has eaten up a good 700 words and that’s just dandy in my book because I was having real trouble making anything out of this episode.

And why would that be? Well, I guess part of it is because I had entirely the wrong attitude when it came to last night’s show. I was looking for a damn good hating and both Eric Pickles and Will Self have very good track records in stoking my hate levels (Pickles for frequently being on the wrong side of the folksy/condescending line and spectacularly buggering up my life since he’s been in government, Self for saying a great many things that I completely agree with but saying them in a way that makes me feel nauseous and wretched). Add into that a generic Mail columnist in the form of Janice Atkinson (or is it Janice Atkinson-Small? The internet stands in defiance to Dimber’s assertion of the former) and we’re on for a right old session of heartburn and high blood pressure, right? Wrong!

In the case of Pickles I thought I was onto a winner as he spent the first question looking pissed off and constipated whilst saying approximately nothing at very great length. However, that trend was not to last and by the second question he found himself largely on the right side of the folksy/condescending line, even if it was at times through gritted teeth. Add into this some rather disarming outbursts of humour tinged with barely submerged contempt for his peers (I did really like it when he started scrawling out Atkinson’s notes) plus a remarkably reasonable stance on gay marriage then it becomes clear that this wasn’t going to be the day that I could absolutely let rip on him. It is still however the day that I can post a photoshop I made of Eric Pickles as a pickle (see Fig. 1). No one rides for free around here.

eric pickles dill gherkin

Fig. 1

As for Self, well he really wasn’t as obnoxious as he usually is and I have to say that the points he made on both Afghanistan and the railways were very, very good. Ok, his pulling of the ‘Ooooooooooh!’ face in response to something Atkinson said did grind my gears a little but in the general scheme of things he did well. So that just leaves Atkinson on my Hate Bench and given her day job, I was pretty sure that she would whip me up into a frothy lather of spittle and bile. As it turns out, she couldn’t and I put this down to the fact that I never really had a clue what she was talking about. It wasn’t so much the content as the jarring and completely arbitrary pauses that seemingly came out of nowhere, not to mention her halting ramblings about a “leaky pipeline” and female MPs. In short, she just left me bewildered.

Hmmmm… So not a lot of hate to be had here and given that our next two panelists are none other than Caroline Flint and Will Young, it swiftly became clear that my Thursday night was going to end up becalmed and adrift in serenity. Now, I know that some of you are going to wonder why I’m making Caroline Flint out to be some sort of beacon of tranquillity as she can be both combative and irksome so allow me to explain: Ever since Questionable Time has been going, Flint has been on more than any other panelist and thus I have had several years in which to watch her go from an overly aggressive diamond-in-the-rough into actually quite an accomplished performer who could well see her status upgraded to Steady Pair of Hands. Ok, so much like Reeves last week she suffered from Labours belated recognition that they now need to be really hammering slogans home (Ol’ Snagletooth never actually said ‘the squeezed middle’ but she might as well have done given how many platitudes along the same line she came out with) but on the whole, her performance was solid. And for me that’s nice because such prolonged exposure to Flint has left me feeling quite fraternal towards her and it’s pleasant to see her continue on the trajectory of incremental improvement. I realise that this hardly makes for an objective account of her performance but that, I’m afraid, is just the way it is.

All the above leaves us with Young and let’s face it, there’s no way he’s walking out of here without some really good marks. As to why he deserves such plaudits, well part of it is to do with the way he gets points across (he’s thoughtful and reasoned while assertive when he needs to be) and partly because the role of 5th panelist fits him like a glove. Usually when a figure from the realm of celebrity is shoehorned on to the show they come with a health warning: ‘This person will probably have an opinion on one specific and personally dear issue but will be useless for the rest of the show’. Not so with Will Young because he actually had well thought out opinions on everything (including the habitually toxic question of Afghanistan) and delivered these opinions in such a soothing-yet-confident manner that I just couldn’t help but get right behind him. Oh, and the stuff he came out with on gay marriage? Top flight Question Timing.

So, where does all this leave me, hankering as I was for a right old evening of venom? Well part of me is a little a disappointed as it was just one of those nights where I really fancied getting hot under the collar but I must confess that it was a generally high quality episode made even higher by the presence of an audience member in a bow tie and dinner jacketish sort of affair. I’m still a sucker for innately posh gentlemen in a dapper get-up and as always, Surrey didn’t fail me. It must be down to all those £2 million homes that are full of grannies.

Tl;dr

Pickles: 5/10

Weigh(s a lot)

Flint: 6/10

(Has a certain) Cachet

Self: 6/10

(Is looking quite) Grey

Young: 8/10

(Is quite clearly) Gay

Atkinson: 3/10

(Is) Away (please leave a message and she’ll get………………. Right back to you)

The Crowd: 6/10

Way-hey!

Oaky-doaky, there we go(ky). I’m off to do the washing up and try to quell this feeling of apprehension that I’m about to see Eric Pickles barreling down my street. Have you people got nothing better to do than harass bloggers of minor significance? Have you not got homes to go to? Do I have to involve the authorities? Question Time panelists: There’s just no trusting them.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #35


 

Question Time Report #35

 

 

Good morning Lemmings and boy what fun have I been having with the Internet this week. To cut a long story short, I signed up with Google Webmaster Tools to try and find out how people arrive at this blog through searches and the results are somewhat… illuminating. Here’s a random selection of some of the more colourful search terms that visitors have used of late:

Lesbo lick

Big tit pervert

“my tits”

Big hairy bollocks

Shark tits

Drunk big tits

Super lesbian.

I must confess to being somewhat baffled by the emphasis on ‘tits’ and ‘lesbians’ as I’m pretty sure that neither of these words feature that regularly in my Post Question Time Match Reports (although I’ve probably just doubled their frequency by listing them here… more unsavoury search traffic plz), but who am I to argue with the omnipotence of google?

Enough of this and onto the matter in hand: Since I had so much fun last week turning Question Time into a marine tragedy I thought we’d keep it vaguely surreal this week and try to figure out what sort of pub this week’s episode would be and what sort of booze would represent each of the panelists. I know, I know, it clearly sounds like some straw clutching is afoot here, but let’s face it, this was a bollocks episode.

 

Health warning given, let’s start with Chris Huhne who I’ve always thought (with the addition of comedy teeth) would make a serviceable chipmunk impersonator (see Fig.1). It’s those big old cheeks of his: They just cry out to stuffed full of policy initiatives that can then be wheeled out in times of cognitive famine. Anyhoo, if Chris Huhne was to be a drink, I’m guessing he would be something along the lines of Directors Bitter. I say this because there’s nothing inherently offensive or unreasonable about him, it’s just that he’s hardly the most thrilling brew in the world, what with always being vaguely dependable but never really in the Zone of Excitement. Take this week’s performance: It was all pretty straight forward, ‘doing my best for the team’ sort of thing that never seemed in danger of ruffling any feathers (although his repeated banging on about how he used to be a journalist did grind my gears a little) and although he did seem to win the day over Chuka Umunna in the civil liberties question, it was such a protracted and well-behaved exercise in I’m Quietly Making A Pointery that I completely zoned out and nearly nodded off before I remembered that I’d agreed to buy a house the day before and had a complete ‘OH FUCK’ moment. Even the repeated open goals that Katie Hopkins so gracefully offered up were dealt with such understated peevedness that I wondered whether it might be worth getting a runner to check that he still had a pulse. So yes, that’s Chris: A thoroughly mundane pint that tries ever so hard to pretend it has a whiff of something special about it. Chris, you’re fooling no one.

 

Chris huhne chipmink

Fig.1

 

Moving swiftly on we have Chuka Umunna who, by rights, should be a mojito. Think about it: He’s fresh, he’s got the looks (as Will Self pointed out in a rather disturbing episode of gushing) and he’s very Zeitgeist, ja? Well, unfortunately for Chuka there’s a small problem in that someone forgot to put the bloody rum in. All the other ingredients are there in that he appears cogent, clever and refreshingly young but the spark’s missing and as a result, his performance (like Huhne’s) was technically fine but ultimately sterile, particular for a week when the opposition were holding all the cards. Sort it out Chuka… There’s the makings of something great in you, but nice packaging and popularity with the in crowd will only get you so far. You need rum. Lots of rum.

 

Bringing up the rear of the party politicos we have Edwina Curry who I think may well be the subject of my earliest political memory: The Salmonella Crisis. Maybe it’s because it was on heavy rotation with John Craven’s Newsround or maybe it’s because I’m a massive egg fan (I REALLY like eggs. I can’t tell you happy I was when the ‘only 2 eggs a day’ rule was recently pooh-poohed), but for some reason the salmonella story has always been a very enduring memory for me. Anyhoo, in stark contrast to both Huhne and Umunna, Curry’s signature drink certainly isn’t lacking in the hard stuff and if I had to guess it would probably be a potent and slapdash combination of gin, blood, stomach pills and cranberry juice (please, don’t try this at home. Blood is quite difficult to get your hands on without receiving a call from your local mental health services). Technically, it wasn’t the best and we’re politically miles apart, but it had plenty of what the other two were missing and that’s vim (I even caught her air-punching at one point). Sure, it’s a little tart and long-term use would certainly lead to some pretty profound health risks, but hell, it gets you pissed and it seemed to work for John Major. Oh…. Ew.

 

Sally forth and we get to the non-politicos, the first of which is the ever vexing Will Self. Now, in drink terms he’s difficult because on the face of it, he seems very top-shelf, like some triple refined, 40 year matured boutique bourbon that you have to take a Coolness Test in order to buy. The packaging is reassuringly recondite, the marketing on your wave length yet when you actually crack the bottle open you don’t find bourbon. Instead, you find piss and vinegar. And that’s what annoys me about Will Self (as I’ve mentioned in the past): I totally agree with him. I want to like him. I want to be in his gang, but as soon as he opens his mouth all I can hear is the nails-on-blackboard sound of belittling and too-cool-for-school sarcasm dribbling down his chin. On paper, there’s nothing he said which I wouldn’t have totally endorsed myself but the manner in which he said it stripped away all the meaning and just left you with the acrid stench of self-satisfaction. So, I for one won’t be knocking back any of Will’s patented juice in the foreseeable future, what with it essentially being an overpriced and over-hyped measure of human waste and mouldy wine… But I’m sure it will be massive in Shoreditch.

 

Still with me? Well done. Here’s your reward: Ladies and gentlemen, I gave you Katie Hopkins, plumbing new depths in an already packed field that includes the like of Vorderman, McKenzie and Griffin. Trying to figure out what sort of drink she is turned out to be an exercise in simplicity and I arrived at the answer within a matter of seconds: Clearly, Katie Hopkins is a bucket of sick. Here’s why.

Equating everything to how it is in some way bad for small business in the same way that the Daily Mail equates everything to cancer/house prices.

 

Condemning near universally accepted civil liberties as somehow being a case of “terrorists over taxpayers”.

 

Scandalous deployment of the overly dramatic *sigh*

 

Accusing womankind of being in a “flap”.

 

“Cleggypoos”?

 

Having a pop at Karen Brady for being the leader of “the Sisterhood”.

 

And the real kicker: Claiming that “women couldn’t handle equal treatment if they got it”. Awesome. Well done, Fucknut. You thoroughly deserve the loudest torrent of boos since the fabled BNP encounter.

 

So yes. Katie is a bucket of sick. A bucket of sick with no redeeming features. Not a cocktail umbrella, not a straw. It’s not even fresh sick. It’s been in the bucket for weeks. Suck it up Katie, you’re an absolute monster.

 

Wow… that was kind of fun! Unfortunately, it is not to last as I now have the sad duty of now trying to figure out what sort of drinking establishment this Question Time would be. It’s a sad duty because it was a pretty poor show last night and miles away from the giddy heights of last week’s Burnley outing. So, Cambridge, it is with heavy heart that I decree your effort to be analogous with… a Beefeater Carvery (or to readers of a certain age, a Berni Inn). By rights, this should have been great week for Question Time as we’ve had phone hacking, double dipping and sexism, but somehow the combination of panel and crowd led to a stultifying mish-mash that looked like it really couldn’t be arsed. Ok, so people got a bit vocal when Hopkins started undoing centuries of work towards gender equality, but given just how awful she was, I think she got away with it lightly (she would have been tarred and feathered if it had been anywhere else). So yes, it was like a Toby Carvery: Somewhere where you’d never go by volition but end up obliged to on account of some unavoidable yet wanky social situation (the office Crimbo meal springs to mind). The food is heavy, the drink is flat, the toilet smells of pensioners and there is nothing to do to kill time except cramming multiple servings of the carvery down your throat in an effort to gain the maximum value out of your suffering. Bollocks to this, I’m off to get pissed.

 

TL;DR

 

Huhne: Yawn.

 

5/10

 

Umunna: Yawn.

 

5/10

 

Curry: Air-punch!

 

7/10

 

Self: Why?

 

4/10

 

Hopkins: Worst.Person.Ever

 

1/10 (a first!)

 

The Crowd: Kill me.

 

3/10

 

 

So there you go. As I mentioned earlier, I have actually just agreed to buy a house so I’m off to pace nervously and fret about interest rate. If you need me, I’ll be reading the Daily Mail.

 

Next week Lemming, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #6


CHOO CHOO!

That's a Type 47. Don't ask me how I know...

Morning Lemmings. Before getting stuck into this week’s action, a few brief points on Wednesday night’s ‘First Time Voter’s Question Time’ on BBC3:

  1. First time voters are divs.
  2. Jamelia really doesn’t have a clue about politics (“Thatcher was for the working classes”. O rly?)
  3. Dermot is very nice, but no Dimbers.
  4. Throwing in a couple of off-beats to make the QT theme tune all ‘down wiv da kids’ is a very bad idea.
  5. According to the audience “Obama smokes weed, yeah?”

Enough of this sorry effort and on to Canary Wharf, scene of this week’s proper, grown up Question Time. No offbeats here, thank you very much.

In The Red Corner: Lord Andrew Adonis, Secretary of State for Transport, Minister for Nerds and possessor of a highly incongruous name.

Geek alert! Lock up you’re slide rules and airband radios because Lord Adonis is in the house! To the uninitiated, the cry of “Lord Adonis in the house!” should be met with the swoons of women, prostrating themselves before a heavenly vision of male perfection while the men scurry for cover, powerless against the radiance of his beauty. As it turns out, this is not the case and what you actually get is a wonky little man who never, ever got picked first for anything in PE and probably has a large collection of 1/72 scale Airfix kits (still in the shrink wrap). A man of my own heart then. I’m actually pretty pleased Lord Adonis is about as geeks are thoroughly under represented in government and although he looked at one point to be a bit of a Blairite nut, he’s actually turned out to be a very able, if understated, Transport Secretary who’s deeply, deeply into trains (I come from a family of unrepentant trainspotters and consequently feel very much at ease with them… they may be a little odd, but they are a people absolutely without malice). This week’s QT was quite a tall order for him as it was quite the gobby panel in attendance and for the most part he tended to stay in the background, fending off the odd jab here and there but very rarely venturing out of cover. He did have an early pop at the Ashcroft issue, doing his best to look shocked and indignant at the whole bloody mess, but there wasn’t any real fire there and he looked like a man going through the motions, fearful of what the rough lads from Millbank would do if he didn’t at least give it a crack. Most of the other questions were similarly muted affairs with some half-hearted parroting of the party line (plus a small outburst of squirming when pressed about why Alan Johnson had gone off message on the Venables case) and lots of staying out of the numerous Boris centred scraps that erupted throughout the show. However, something changed on the last question, the one about whether televised leaders debates are a good idea. Personally, I’m having trouble getting fired up about this issue but Adonis suddenly came to life, gripped by an enthusiasm that seemingly came from nowhere. And this is why I like Lord Adonis: He knows what he likes and when he does he’s positively evangelistic about it. While most QT fodder are willing to have a crack about things they know precious little about, Adonis isn’t, preferring to keep his powder dry and marshal his reserves for an all out push on stuff he thinks does matter. In today’s increasingly gladiatorial political arena, this is virtue that should be cherished as it belies a mind that’s not going to be sullied by the screams and clamour of the playground. Does it make for incendiary viewing? No. Does it give me much needed reassurance that Westminster isn’t entirely populated by dicks? Yes. And for that reason he gets points.

A mostly avoidant but occasionally irrepressible 6/10.

In The Blue Corner: Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, Unreconstructed Shambles and Perennial Wildcard.

Oh Boris, has it really been 12 years since you first graced our TV screens? Shockingly, it has, but that just makes it all the more impressive that he can still be counted on to put his foot in whatever ‘it’ is, despite having had such long and extensive practice in trying not to. Anyhoo, it’s always nice to see Boris on. He may produce a lot more heat than light and his ‘jovial buffoon’ act is wearing gossima thin now, but the randomness that always follows him is something to be encouraged and he’s a bastion of hope to men with unconventional haircuts everywhere. On this week’s show, he was as phlegmatic as ever, seemingly unable to reel in his mouth and constantly being put on the naughty step by Dimbers. Rather than go too far into the nuts and bolts of what he said, I’ve picked out some of his choice phrases from the episode, handily displayed below…

  • Accused Labour and the Libs of being falsely “bathed in the odour of sanctity” on the Ashcroft question (a phrase that seemed to be in danger of becoming a full blown meme after it infected Williams and Dimbers).
  • Went on to call “Rhubarb!” on the issue (inducing a counter “Rhubarb!” from Williams).
  • Correctamundo!”
  • Accused Dimbers of being “very rude” to him during the televised mayoral debates (a very risky move considering that Dimbleby was spoiling for a fight with him).
  • Let out this little gem: “Elucidate the vacuity at the heart of Labour”
  • Codswallop!”
  • Further threw caution to the wind by jabbing fingers at Dimbleby and sweatily highlighting the Big Man’s Bullingdon past.
  • Got into a fight with pretty much everyone.

In terms of substance, it was an uninspired and muddled affair, ticking compulsory Old Tory boxes (choppers for the boys in Afghanistan, banging on about debt, pot/kettle accusations on Ashcroft) mixed with some ill advised bluffs and messy little skirmishes (with Shirley Williams and Will Self providing excellent breakwaters against the Great Blonde Tsunami). He did manage to sound semi-rational around the Venables questions, but on most issues he just ended up being steadfastly incoherent. And that’s the trouble with Boris. On the one hand, he represents much that ‘real Tories’ hanker for: Deep seated scepticism on anything related to the state (minus defence and law and order), a devil-may-care approach to most things dear to the left and above all, a personality. However, with all this comes a mind that’s averse to detail, easily bored and rarely thinking more than two steps ahead (pretty much the polar opposite of Lord Adonis). His presence in politics is generally a good thing (if only for the fact that his barely disguised desire for the Tory leadership and unabashed popularity amongst the Conservative rank-and-file is a complete headfuck for Cameron) and he’s not a man to be written off, possessing a mildly Churchillian air about him (Churchill was oft ridiculed and derided in his earlier days), but right now he needs to tighten things up and learn when it’s prudent to just shut up. But he is good viewing. And good viewing means points.

A harebrained but entertaining 6/10.

In The Yellow Corner: Baroness Shirley Williams, Lib Dem Peer and QT Stalwart.

After being shunted off most this series’ episodes, the Libs are back and who better to lead the charge than Shirley Williams, the Libs’ only real contender for the title of Big Beast (what with Ashdown being way too involved in other peoples wars and Ming’s tragic downfall at the hands of The Young Meh’s). Apparently, Williams has been on QT more than any other panellist and it’s easy to see why. Although nearly 80, she has this alert and steely manner, backed up with lashings of principal that make her a favourite with the crowd and tonight was no exception. Kicking off with Ashcroft, she made short work of sticking it the Tories whilst ably countering any assaults on the Lib’s position, aided in no small part by Boris setting the bar very low. The ‘Brown at Chillcot’ question was an equally impressive affair as she brushed straight through the Snatch and Choppers bullshit and went straight for the heart of the meaty principals (which the audience were very much into). The Venables issue had her in a less forthright but more nuanced mode that again, went down impressively while the leaders debates bought out a well reasoned lament at the superficiality of modern politics. All good solid stuff. However, it is her general manner and the way in which she deals with other panellists that really win her points, displayed throughout the show in her dealings with Boris. Far from being cowed by the onslaught of blabber, Williams always stood her ground, gave him enough rope to hang himself and then switched to the offensive (exclaiming at one point “I want my one minute, dammit!”). With the others she was slightly more generous, but still, this is someone who is not going to pushed about or bullied (the fact that she pulled off wearing some sort of Chinese tunic that would appear on most 79 year olds as a little batty is testament to this). Gravitas, my boy. They call it gravitas.

A thoroughly robust and dignified 8/10

In The Independent/Brainy corner: Will Self, author, ‘commentator’ and generally concave looking man.

I have trouble with Will Self. On the face of it, he should be right my street. He’s a talented writer whose politics chime well with my own and I admire the fact that he’s no-one’s man nor has trouble with speaking the unspeakable. But there’s something about him that gets stuck in my throat and after tonight, I’m pretty sure it’s the disdain he has for everyone and everything. Although I agreed with pretty much everything he said and was into him playing Devil’s Advocate on the Venables case, it was the way he treated other people that made me loses sympathy. Calling politics “seedy” and politicians “poor sad folk” is all very true, but saying it in a way that makes no effort to disguise the malice lurking beneath the surface doesn’t really help matters. Not even the audience were safe from his ire and his digs at them made him come across as a man who is terribly impressed with the sound of his own voice and not terribly impressed with the sound of yours. Then again, I did like it when he snapped at Carol Vorderman when she was being especially mental and maybe there’s just a little jealousy involved on my part. Come on, how much fun would it be to totally not give a shit about anyone’s feelings?

A technically correct but practically wrong 5/10.

In The I’m The Funny One/Just Like You Corner: Carol Vorderman, Maths Nerd turned Maths Vamp turned Tory advisor.

OK, someone’s going to have to help me out here as something weird has been going on that I’m not privy to. One day you’re watching Countdown and there’s dowdy old Carol with her oversized glasses and book smarts. A couple of years down the line you switch over to Countdown again and Carol Vorderman is suddenly all sexed up although not entirely hot as it all just seemed a little wrong. I could cope with that change. I found it a little uncomfortable, but you know, she was doing her own thing so more power to her and all that. So anyway, I switch on QT last night and bugger me, there’s Carol Vorderman, still a little sexed up but now frothing with righteous indignation and kneejerk right wing posturing straight from The Daily Mail Field Manual. Now that’s just too much for my head to cope with and in future Carol, I’d like a little warning before you miraculous reinvent yourself.

ewww...

Making this wasn't nice. Carol 2.0 was just a bit....wrong

Anyhoo, what’s the cut of Carol 3.0’s new jib? Fairly rabid and very confrontational. Right from the start she was leaping down people’s throats, looking sincerely pissed off and invoking the weary touchstones of ‘think of the children’, ‘more choppers’ and ‘paedo-correctness-gone-mad’. Firmly taking the offensive line, she managed to make the Ashcroft issue all about Peter Mandelson and spent quite some time earbashing the poor Lord Adonis for not thinking about “The Families” more. Luckily, she was up against some pretty steady competition who generally didn’t rise to the bait, but I’ve got to say that I was a little shocked by this latest incarnation of what was already quite an odd puppy. She did get a bit of love from the audience, but then again, the 5th panellists usually do (unless you happen to be Douglas Murray…. not that he cares) so I’m not chalking this up as any huge victory. Instead, I’m giving her a piss poor mark, largely for freaking me out.

A shrill and from the middle of fucking nowhere 3/10.

The Crowd: Canary Wharf

This is always an odd audience as no one really lives around Canary Wharf so everyone looks like they’ve just rocked up from a board meeting. Suits were the order of the day and could be divided into three categories: The Posh (you can tell by their lips and teeth), the Wouldn’t Mind Being But Aren’t Really Posh (who seemed to make up the bulk of the crowd) and the East End Boys Turned Good Who Made It To A Trading Desk (one of their number had clearly borrowed his jacket from Deckard in Blade Runner). What was left was comprised of a lippy Northerner, a stoned looking guy and some fellow with a goatee who made the Point Of The Evening (a concise and blistering attack on the Tories for “giving people enough news to make them angry, but not enough to make an informed decision”. Kudos Sir. You are tonight’s winner). Oh, and there was a very preppy looking girl who would have made a lovely companion for Lord Adonis. By and large, they were quite vocal, a bit pissed off and seemed to be enjoying the rolling rucks that continued to flare up throughout the show. With the exception of Goatee Man, no killer points were delivered but they were up to the job and made for a pretty good show. So well done Canary Wharf, you may be an odd demographic, but you didn’t cock it up.

A well rounded 7/10.

So that’s that. See you next week for Dewsbury’s all-fem shit fest. I can’t wait.


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