Question Time 9th April 2020
Brandon Lewis (Conservative)
Rachael Reeves (Labour)
Peter Openshaw (Medical Expert)
Darren McGarvey (Rapper)
Ruby Wax (Celebrity)
A few years ago, I went to watch my local XI play Yeovil Town. The consensus was, both in the stadium and on social networking afterwards, that it was the worst match ever. Not just within our very own windswept terraces, but in the entire history of football. There had been a special offer, whereby many of the spectators got in for a pound. Some wrote to the club the next week, asking for their pound back. Was this week’s the worst edition of QT ever? I think it might have been.
The venue was Uxbridge, although all of the questioners and some of the panel, were appearing by video link, as £15,000 an hour key worker Fiona Bruce, presented from a studio in central London. Alas, this weeks venue was another of those many places that your humble reviewer has never been to. Wikipedia calls. At first glance, and in my ignorance, I was surprised to see that Wiki notes that Uxbridge is 15 miles and 32 chains from Charing Cross, despite the fact that Uxbridge station isn’t on the South East mainline (it is in West London) and isn’t served by Southeastern trains. In fact, Uxbridge lies at the end of a spur from the Metropolitan line. Further investigation (of which in these strange days, ample time allows for) revealed that Charing Cross is used by the inhabitants of London (Cocknies?) as a central point of orientation, as if the famous ‘polus mille nulla’ in the centre of ancient Rome. For their information, I feel obliged to inform, that I have calculated that as I am writing this review, I am all of 320 miles and 40 chains distant from Charing Cross. I have time on my hands.
Uxbridge returns a Conservative MP, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, like myself a humble reviewer of events, albeit for the Times, Daily Telegraph and the Spectator. He is currently Prime Minister, although from a hospital bed. This reviewer suspects that this venue was chosen by the BBC in order to hurl abuse, via a parade of scripted and rehearsed minorities (teh letterbox) and NHS workers (teh PPE) at Mr Johnson, ‘From his own constituency’. A line that would have been delivered by a tearful Bruce as her heart broke for the poor and the ill. A plan kiboshed by the coronavirus, as it has put Mr Johnson in hospital too, and even the BBC would hesitate to hurl abuse and play ‘catch out’ with an ill Prime Minister. Or would they? All was revealed.
The first question was posed by a medical statistician. He meandered somewhat but his question could be summarised as thus: ‘Let me out!?’
Brandon Lewis (Conservative), told him to stay at home, no matter what the weather. Peter Openshaw (Proper Registered Doctor) was wearing a dog collar like the verger on Dads Army and was broadcasting from the lobby of one of the better (but deserted) Quality Inns. In the background were thin fake Tudor roof beams. We need good vaccines, he said, that was the solution. The lockdown needed to be observed for ‘as long as’. Follow science, facts and effects, he reminded us.
Rachael Reeves (Labour), in the studio and therefore close to milepost zero, began talking like a cockney, despite being an MP for Leeds. She suggested more tests both for the virus and for immunity to it. She suggested a smartphone app that would inform us when we’re near someone who’s got coronavirus. While we’re on the topic of medicine, she looked as though she’d been botoxed and had her syrup of figs soaked in tar. No need for an app, you could tell by the boat race.
Speaking of the Metropolitan line, alighting at Great Portland Street allows one to walk through one of London’s most exclusive areas, packed with embassies. On New Cavendish Street, you can pop in on theatrical agent Vivienne Clore, one of whose talents is working-class Glaswegian hero, inequality and poverty guru, Darren McGarvey (rapper). If you have done as well as Darren has out of austerity and cuts, and your deep pockets are stuffed with money, you might want to try to book him. Ms Clore’s other ‘talents’ include Jo Brand, whose commitment to a kinder, gentler politics extends as far as offering to throw acid (rather than milkshake) over Nigel Farage.
For tonight’s programme, Darren had made the effort and appeared to be Skyping from the sofa of his mum’s front room in a tenement in Pollok. He detected an ulterior to the demand, based on punishment. Is this what they mean by rap? He spoke with his hands, as if beating somebody up on a Glasgow night out. He told us some more rap, ‘A pretext for austerity 2.0’, he said.
Dr Openshaw elucidated upon his previous comments, baffling Bruce. She seemed keen that the lockdown should end soon as if, from her side of milepost zero, a nanny needed to be hired and a butler employed, pronto. She asked Darren why he looked perplexed? ‘I didn’t realise we were live,’ he replied, startled. Had his ma just switched the telly on? Bruce read out a long list of twitter criticisms of the government which Brandon couldn’t counter, as she went straight into the next question.
An Italian asked, are we learning from Italy?
Brandon suggested taking medical and scientific advice, rather than Italy advice.
In a crisis, Dr Peter prefers to believe everything that the Chinese Communist Party tells him. He appointed them ‘generous’ because of the information that they have furnished us with. Fiona Bruce persisted with Dr Peter, the lockdown here should have been earlier if it’s been working. Dr Peter mentioned the advisory groups and the importance of choosing the right moment for the maximum effect.
Never mind that, what does Darren think? He mentioned developing societies and developing economies. Economic inequalities, such as in the USA, affects the number of deaths. Darren then looked dewy-eyed. He compared the USA to an equal Sweden, that the rest of us know doesn’t exist anymore. He does he realise that, doesn’t he? Then he mentioned conspiracy theories such as a ‘Jewish race of aliens allied to Bill Gates wanting to take over the world via a virus.’ Oh.
I made the mistake of watching one of Darren’s ‘raps’. The great thing about Stormy-zee is that I can’t understand a word he says. Sadly, not the case with Darren. He started off well enough, telling a tale of a trip on a train. During which, however, he drank so much Buckie that he wet himself. Not exactly the Orient Express with Albert Finney and Lauren Bacall.
Bruce thought that the opposition were ‘missing in action’. Reeves spoke at length without actually saying anything. She wanted to make a point, test people on the front line and provide teh PPE. Eight per cent of NHS workers are off sick. About the same number as you would expect to be on holiday, she forgot to mention.
Mention of testing prompted Bruce to ask Dr Peter’s view. Back to the Latin, a question expecting the answer, ‘It’s all the fault of the Tories!’ Dr Peter didn’t say that but he did mention a lack of investment in public health. We need good tests, he said, ones that provide clear, unambiguous results. A bad test is worse than no test. Bruce read out another uncontested laundry list of criticisms of the government as she segued into the next question, which related to mental health.
All of our mental health suffered as Ruby Wax was introduced to the programme, as welcome as a coughing passenger from Wuhan climbing down a gangway. There is a joke here about Darren’s conspiracy theory but given the serious times we live in, I won’t. Ruby was Skyping next to a long flight of stairs, in a room of very basic furnishings and tiled surfaces. Is she in the cellar? Is she a prepper? I think she might be. She plugged her website, then the video link stuck. Hardly surprising if she’s 100-foot underground and wrapped in tin foil.
Back to Darren, the isolation was compounded with financial problems and being trapped with abusive parents and addicts. Speak for yourself, Jimmy. Darren lived in his own head and needed a jog or a holiday to get away from it. That’s what he said. Have we reached peak Pollok? No, we haven’t, read on.
‘Shut up’, said Bruce, ‘we’ve got through to Ruby again’. But he wouldn’t. Repeating ‘Ok’ won’t shut a Glaswegian up either, reach for a cosh. Bruce kept on trying, ‘OK… OK… OK … OK …’
Speaking of medical issues, Ruby had been botoxed too and has tar-black hair. She’s had a facelift and her cheekbones are suspiciously high. She has caught the cosmetic surgery virus. I doubt she contracted it at an NHS hospital. She didn’t want to stoke fear and was kind enough to assure us that they’d be a tsunami of depression after all of this, which would lower the immune system. Thanks Ruby. Bruce assured us that somebody agreed with Ruby on Twitter.
Dr Peter reminded us that those advisory committees contain mental health experts too. He mentioned front line worker’s, ‘Moral injuries’, meaning a reflection upon the consequences of a previous decision. It’s called ‘guilt’, Peter. Back in the bunker, Ruby cheered us up a bit more by forecasting a second and third wave of such things, which would shake us.
The final question asked if we should be allowed out of lockdown for more than brief exercise?
Darren had wandered off a bit. It’s very strange being in a non-environment. Pollok? MacCarthyism is creeping in, middle-class people are doing yoga and giving clarinet lessons on Instagram. Recommend them to Ms Clore, Darren, I’m sure she pays for an introduction to new talent.
‘Alexa, show me peak Pollok.’
Darren said he was locked in the ‘hoose’ and had ‘certain needs’. He mentioned that he was a ‘recovering’ alcoholic and addict. He seemed to be wanting a visit.
Bruce joined in, although in a closer-to-milepost-zero kind of way. She told Brandon that she wanted to, ‘Lie down and take a few rays.’ Ruby wanted oxytocin, a bondage chemical. Dear God. ‘Bonding’, my mistake. She plugged her website again, ‘Visit every day.’ Dr Peter butted in, and suggested sitting down and ‘taking some sun’. It was bad for the virus. In the same way that opiates are good for a sore throat, one presumes.
Way out of my depth, I was just about to make an excuse and leave, when Bruce announced an end to the proceedings and that next week they would be in Wolverhampton, virtually. The substance references continued, she said that it wasn’t as good as being ‘live’ and getting a ‘BBC cup of tea’. Excuse me, innocents like myself must consult the Urban Dictionary, after hoping for you all, a spiritual, happy and healthy Easter.
© Always Worth Saying 2020
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