Always Worth Saying’s Question Time Review

Question Time 9th December 2021

The Panel:

Michael Portillo (Broadcaster)
Anneliese Dodds (Labour)
Steven Bartlett (Entrepreneur)
Adjoa Andoh (Actress)
Rachael (Conservative)

Venue: Hendon

In anticipation of tonight’s programme, your humble reviewer wondered if Question Time from Hendon would be held amongst the exhibits at the Barnet borough’s Royal Air Force Museum?

When QT appeared from Yeovilton in February 2018, a disappointing lineup weighed down by David Lammy and Theresa Villiers, sat before an excellent lineup of exhibits from the Somerset town’s Royal Naval Air Station’s Fleet Air Arm Museum.

I those halcyon days, when Puffins watched and commented upon Question Time, a splendid game of spot the aeroplane ensued with this scribe being disqualified fairly early on, left face down upon the muddy apron having unforgivably tripped himself up over a Hawker Seahawk.

A prayer was answered as Fiona Bruce (chair) introduced the the first question from beneath a Lancaster bomber. Has confidence in the government been shattered by party-gate?

Rachael (Conservative) spoke first. As if an unsuccessful design from a long-forgotten wood and canvas factory, I had no idea who Rachel was. The Tories not having put anybody forward for the programme until the last minute, presumably because of the flack expected regarding the Christmas party blitz.

Micheal Portillo thought Boris was teetering on the edge of a cliff given the Tory Party might think him becoming an electoral liability rather than an asset. He added that the government’s covid strategy, especially the vaccine, had been a success. Just because the public didn’t trust the government didn’t mean that they hadn’t done a good job.

A lady in the audience called Boris a liar.

Adjoa Andoh (actress) complained of “Do as I say don’t do as I do”. She added baby-gate and the wallpaper to the barrage of incoming. Bruce, rightly, queried ‘baby-gate’ as the poor little thing is only a few hours old. We were told all week the rules were followed, somebody lied. The public aren’t fools concluded Ms Andoh.

Adoja Abiboom Helen Andoh (not her real name) is one of the Somerset Andoh’s being born in Bristol in 1963 to an English mother and Ghanaian father. A native of the posh Gloucester village of Wickwar, Helen ended her education part through a Bristol Polytechnic course, dropping out to pursue a career in acting. Her big break came in 1990 when she appeared in the BBC soap opera EastEnders where she played Karen. I kid you not. A diamond geezer friend, swaffing jellied eels while walking the along the frog and toad in the direction of Upton Park, told me this:

Not Kaz Taylor with her trademark Karen bun but Karen who started singing ballads in the Queen Vic and befriended Clyde and who got the lodgings at 55 Victoria Road to the chagrin of Michelle who had a crush on Clyde.

Dear God.

Given Adoja Abiboom Helen Andoh is a bit of a podcast mouthful and difficult to spell, should we, in order to avoid causing offence, refer to her as Mrs Helen Cunwell which is, usefully, her real name? I think we should.

Given her tinge, one might be surprised Mrs Cunwell plays Lady Danbury, an insightful doyenne of early 19th-century Regency London society, in the Netflix romp Bridgerton. Worse has happened.

Despite light-skinned black woman Meghan Markle (not her real name) becoming the first BAME member of the royal family, Mrs Cunwell played Richard II in the world’s first all-woman of colour Shakespeare production.

In a baffling 2019 Observer theatre review, half Nigerian lesbian Scottish poet laureate Jackie Kay (whose child was fathered by Guyanese California professor and poet Fred D’Aguiar) recalled forming a many-headed creature called the ‘Black Lesbian Group’ with Helen. I think.

At the time, the Bishopbriggs raised laureate was a porter at a London hospital and could remember Helen insisting on having nine friends around her bed while giving birth. Subsequently, perchance to the surprise of The Bard, this experience was channelled into her Richard II. Presumably, from the stirrups, she’d been heard to scream, “You may my glories and my state depose, but not my griefs, still am I King of those.”

A Hurricane appeared at nine o’clock above a chap who said something.

“A very worrying time indeed,” began Anneliese Dodds (Labour), “the great British public followed the rules.” Unlike some senior Conservatives. “There must be that investigation.” She broadened the enquiry’s terms of reference to include lots more parties and crony contracts (for canapes and wine?) placed by the government.

Steven Bartlett (entrepreneur) noted a lack of trust from the public. He accused Rachel of not trusting Boris either, which Racheal denied even though she had previously supported Michael Gove.

Steven congratulated Rachael for turning up.

Botswana born Steven Bartlett spent his childhood in Plymouth before completing his education at the Metropolitan University of Manchester by dropping out of a business course after one lecture.

Formerly involved with the Social Chain social media and marketing company, he is the youngest ever Dragon investor to feature on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den. At the moment, Steven produces the Diary of a CEO podcast.

The blurb accompanying Mr Bartlett’s appearance on the Channel Four programme Secret Teacher became somewhat overexcited, claiming he was previously expelled from school, was penniless, in debt and reduced to stealing food to survive, before beginning a social media company with ‘a pal’.

In fact, thanks to a piece in The Independent, we learn young A* pupil Steven is the son of a Nigerian born businesswoman and a civil engineer, who stopped attending school partway through sixth form but was still able to gain the qualifications required for university. As for his ‘pal’, this turns out to be a Mr Dominic MacGregor who, if he ever went hungry, did so after bankrupting his parents who sent him to the £19,000 a year Bootham School, subsequent to which he graduated from the University of Edinburgh.

Why do the youth of today promote themselves with self-evidently exaggerated preposterous back sob stories? Something those of my generation, who spent their childhood’s in war-torn colonies before living on 500 calories a week while wrongly incarcerated in Philippine jails, would never dream of doing – not even to sway voters towards an undeserved writing prize.

Ashnet Hussein asked the next question, has plan B been implemented in time?

Steven, unbuttoned to the waist and dripping in jewellery, thought these announcements political rather than scientific. Bruce said the rules were coming from SAGE but Steven pointed out people were allowed to go into work for a social gathering but not to do any work.

Helen made an important point, by nature the government are libertarian whereas a pandemic demands authoritarianism, thus the government and their backbenchers are pulling in different directions.

Michael thought the new rules ridiculous. He noted the number of hospitalisations and deaths are flat and therefore felt the libertarian strategy more appropriate. However, Michael hasn’t been listening to Dr Witty who has pointed out that the exponential increase in Omnicrom infection means that small numbers will become big numbers very quickly.

Michael Denzil Xavier Portillo was born in Hertfordshire. Despite this, he was registered as a Spanish citizen, his father being an exiled Spaniard. His mother is Scottish. Michael attended a non-selective state school, the posh Harrow County School for Boys. Puffins need no reminding that, owing to a previous merger, former pupils are known as ‘Old Gaytonians’.

Another interesting point was made from the audience. The new covid variety came from Southern Africa suggesting new variations will continue to appear until there is a global vaccination programme.

“We’re not going to play party politics,” Annalise reminded the viewers, going on to say that the booster programme was behind schedule, ventilation in schools is poor, sick pay hasn’t been sorted out, and it was all the government’s fault.

Speaking of aeroplanes, as every Puffin knows, were Lucy the weather girl of aluminium, wires and welds, she would be a Focke-Wulf Fw 200A Condor. If Kayleigh McEnany was an aeroplane she would be a Lockheed C-121C Super Constellation. However, if Anneliese Dodds cut through air and cloud instead of dragging herself through the night soil of the open sewer that is Westminster politics, I’m afraid she might remind one of the lamentable Bennett PL-11 Airtruck or possibly one of Dick Dastardly’s Wacky Races cartoon bi-planes after it had crashed into a pylon.

Ms Dodds is Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities and the Labour MP for Oxford East. Comrade Dodds, an accountant’s daughter, was privately educated at the £13,995 a year Robert Gordons College in Aberdeen. Public schoolgirl Anneliese has never had a proper job. After gaining a First in PPE at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, Comrade Dodds was awarded an MA in Social Policy from Edinburgh University and a PhD in Government at the London School of Economics.

After that, she remained in academe as a lecturer in Public Policy at Kings College, London, also holding an Economic and Social Council Postdoctoral Fellowship at the LSE. In between times, in anticipation of the consequences of her own party’s carbonphobic obsession with banning petrol cars and central heating, Anneliese was an invited professor at the University of Pristina in strife-ridden Kosovo where, in her own words, “I was engaged in research on electricity supply and combating extreme energy poverty.”

What can be done about people who refuse the vaccine? Bruce asked the questioner what they would do. “I always paid my taxes,” the lady replied enigmatically.

“It’s very difficult,” said Helen, as divisive as Brexit. She mentioned the speed of the development of the vaccine and wondered of its safety. Her daughter had just had a baby which appeared to have moved the family towards vaccine hesitancy.

What should be done? Asked Bruce.

Boris was flying a kite to start a conversation, replied Helen. Umming and ahing, she asked, “But how do you get people to join in willingly?” How do you force them? Finally spitting out what she had been bursting to say, she claimed blacks had a history of being experimented on. Erm.

A lady in the audience noted vaccine hesitancy in the young, who could be pressured by refusing them permission to travel.

There are vaccine passports in France and Spain, creating a two-tier society. Rather than being a bad thing, the gentleman contributor suggested bringing them in here.

You don’t have a right to infect other people, noted the next audience member. He wanted to ban people from public transport.

Micheal tried to lance Hendon’s march to Nazism by reminding everyone that he had been double jabbed but had still contracted covid. Clobbering people isn’t the answer.

Steve was double vaxxed and didn’t want to force people to be vaccinated either. He thought the vaccine-hesitant were un-educated. Being able to trust the government would help. The lurch to fascism resumed as he suggested censoring social media of vaccine scepticism.

A chilling near-consensus emerged from the Volk that vaccines shouldn’t be forced but that sanctions should be applied to those who choose not to have them.

Shall we leave the final word to the white male privileged patriarch John O’Gaunt, of Shakespeare’s Richard II, who on his death bed culturally appropriated this present day’s difficulties to his own 14th century?

England, bound in with the triumphant sea
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds:
That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.


© Always Worth Saying 2021

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