Saturday, January 08, 2011

Radio 4's Any Questions

Yesterday evening I went to the recording of Any Questions at the Hinde Street Methodist Chapel in central London. It's a lovely peaceful chapel that throws off the ugly and bossy sounds of traffic that grunts and roars outside its walls, and was thronging with Shires-types even though I got there an hour early. I'd been hoping to take Offsprog Two, who is doing Politics 'A' Level, but we had a row as I managed to crash her computer with all her 'A' Level work on it (fingers crossed, it is being repaired as we speak), so I gave away my spare ticket and settled down next to a snotty banker type in pinstripes and elbows, who kicked his smart leather attache case into my footspace, fidgeted and elbowed me all the way through, interspersing all this with regular grunts from alcohol-infused breath. He didn't manage to spoil the experience though! Left to right on the podium on front of us were Ken Livingstone, Vivienne Westwood, Jonathan Dimbleby, the producer (balance? four men and one woman isn't balance, missus!), Michael Portillo and Matthew Parris.
It was much more enlightening that Question Time, because the panel were not so tied to party politics. Portillo in particular was pleasantly surprising, condemning the bankers for greedily helping themselves to our tax money in bonuses, and the Government for letting them.
We liked that!
As a single mum on a part-time wage (and no more pay rises, and no possibility of promotion or working more paid hours due to Government cuts) living in London, I bitterly resent rewarding the beasts who got us into this recession getting bonus payments for doing so. What sort of upside down world do we live in?
Portillo also berated the red-tops for bugging people.
Livingstone was similarly independent minded, and the audience thoroughly agreed with his condemnation of the Iraq War (as did the other panellists).
Parris was wise about the Eastenders storyline (the cot death/baby swap one) saying that if it had appeared in a Dickens novel, it would have been accepted, and that TV had a right and a responsiblity to create drama that explored issues such as this. Where I differed with Parris was his nasty mocking of Vivienne Westwood, which of course will not be visible to listeners of the programme.
Westwood is not an experienced broadcaster and is not able to be concise enough when she speaks. If she is interrupted or laughed at before she finishes making her point, she comes across as a batty old Dame. She is not this at all; she spoke slowly and almost timidly but made pertinent points, and often witty ones; her quip about Ken Livingstone's sartorial style being an inspiration for Ralph Lauren's coutryside-inspired 'look' was very funny.
Whenever it was her turn to speak, Parrish rolled his eyes and chortled, becoming quite flushed with self-satisfied delight whenever Dimbleby tried to hurry her along. By doing this, he betrayed his suave manner and revealed that underneath his articulate presentation is a misogynistic public schoolboy who seems to believe that his public voice entitles him to mock those who are not in his exalted position as a social and political commentator in the pay of Rupert Murdoch.
I don't like Vivienne Westwood's fashion designs any more but I do admire her a lot. She is a climate-change activist now, and she was clearly participating in this programme to raise awareness about this rather than for any other reason.
All in all, it was a really interesting experience, which made me wish that Michael Portillo had not left party politics, made me glad that Matthew Parris is not a politician, made me hope that Ken Livingstone becomes mayor again (although I would have preferred Oona King), and made me respect Vivienne Westwood again- and admire her physical beauty. I had not realised what a beautiful woman she is in the flesh, having only seen her in posed photographs before. Must be all that cycling round London!

1 comment:

geemarybee said...

Oh my God, Helen. I heard a that VW was going to be on Question Time and I thought it was on TV. I have been searching for it, and then Petra told me it was on the radio at the weekend. It is not on any catch up sites, so sadly I missed it and YOU WERE ACTUALLY THERE!! I wish I had known, I would have been there like a shot...Gina x