Question Time, Interns and Being Nasty
This week I finally succumbed to the dawning realisation that I am not a very nice person. Many have known this for a long time but I'd been blissfully unaware of this until now. A few episodes in the last few days have confirmed this unpleasant discovery....[Warning! This is a long post. After weeks of non-posting I now have blog-post diarrhea]
We have an intern in our office. They are usually hard-working, enthusiastic and American. These three characteristics usually give me very little difficulty in establishing a fruitful working relationship with them. It is the norm for them to get diligently down to work and for me to bore them with my theories on the development of the British Parliamentary system. They come out of the whole experience with half the knowledge they entered it and we get a lot of envelopes stuffed.
This time, however, the experience has been different. The intern is American but he is a bit lazy and a bit annoying. Admittedly my tolerance levels may be lower than normal but he is, on reflection, not a bit annoying but very annoying. He spends his day on the PC, alternating between facebook and websites advertising accommodation in the areas around his college back home. He also appears to be in the grip of a hitherto undiagnosed condition whereby whatever is showing on his PC screen is transmitted through his vocal cords to the greater public...'ha', 'oh man', 'no waay', 'that's funny' are the most common utterances when's he surfing the web [which is all the time] and, at a rate of 15 ignorant comments per minute, they can get fucking irritating.
Yesterday he asked me, in all sincerity, if the email he's received from someone he doesn't know, asking for all his personal and bank details, might be a scam. You think?! FFS.
I did tell him the email was a scam but this whole experience has brought home to me the inescapable fact that I am not a very nice person. I could try and make out that he's bringing out the worst in me but the truth is that I must have a deep reservoir of nastiness within my soul in order for me to draw upon it so easily... For example, this week I taunted him about what a boring sport basketball is (hardly an original line-of-attack) and then suggested, on American Independence Day, that the US would be better off returning to British rule and having Gordon Brown as their Emperor, with Blair as Viceroy, based in Washington. It says much for my addled thinking (brought about by my irritation at said intern) that I actually thought this was both a searing political critique and devastatingly funny.
My transformation into a nasty, glib, unfunny, boor (well, I hope its a transformation) was confirmed by my reaction to the intern's morning greeting as he walked into the office one day this week. The first thing he said, commenting on the police around Westminster and the security checks in Parliament, was 'You guys and your civil liberties. You're giving them up m'aan. As Thomas Jefferson said,“He who trades liberty for security deserves neither and will lose both.”
Unfortunately I was having a Richard Littlejohn moment and, recognising the quote before he finished it, only allowed him to utter 'He who trades security..." before replying, pithily,'Well, Jefferson didn't have to deal with fucking Al Qaeda did he...".
My face then took up a suitably sheepish expression before I meekly asked the intern to open the post.
I am a nasty person. I'm hoping that the Summer Recess might alleviate my condition.
A deepening of my conviction that I am indeed nasty came about from watching Question Time last night. You can tell that my condition had become more advanced because I was positively revelling in being nasty - it seemed the only sane position to adopt when your upper cortex is being bombarded by idiotic statements from apparently well-meaning people.
Last night's edition of QT was one of such high-octane stupidity that it made your teeth bleed. Last night QT was down-wit-da-kidz. Not that they wanted to patronise or anything, but, because they had a yoof audience (between 14 and 22, their age range rather than their IQ score parameters apparently), QT had Davina McCall on the panel. Davina-Fucking-McCall. They also had some numpty called Charlie Bell, who was 18 and planning to go to uni. Another example of a higher-education policy gone wrong. Again, my nastiness glands kicking in, I yearned to see him adopt a nervous blink, a la Ben Swain in the Thick of It, but sadly this never happened. Which was a shame as it if did have a mad blink it might have done something to take your mind off the fact that he spoke utter horse-shit.
The first question brought about an orgy of wrong-headedness. The question was 'Has the UK become a terrorist target because of its culture or because of the actions of its Government abroad?" (Cue audience applause)
Douglas Murray, a neo-Con possessing all the genuine charm-skills of a Foxton's estate agent, rightly spoke of Islamic fundamentalism and refused to countenance foreign policy being a major motivating factor in terrorist attempts at mass-slaughter. Of course, in front of an audience immersed in 'root causes' muddle-headedness, this didn't go down as well as when Davina responded by saying Murray's arguments were 'all twaddle'....(cue audience whopping and cheering). Davina, Professor of Politics at Kings College, then wisely characterised the multi-faceted nature of international terror by saying that 'hate breeds hate' and that everyone should sit down and chat about it.
I can see it now...Big Brother 8: [adopts Geordie accent] 'Ismail Haniya walks into the diary room. He's disillusioned by Israel's existence on the sofa and is fed up that Fatah keep nicking the milk'.
Someone from the audience then declared that the suffragettes were terrorists. I then declared that the nation's youth were all idiots. In comparison, my reasoning stands up better to closer examination.
I know that QT isn't representative of the population but, on this evidence, let's forget about lowering the voting age, let's raise it. On a rolling basis. Then the generation on QT will never have to face the horrible indignity of having to compromise by voting in an election.
Why, you might ask, if QT was that bad, didn't I turn it off? Because my lady was on press-duty and we had to have all the news bulletins and QT on telly just in case she got calls about it...I suffer for her art. At one point I seemed to be having convulsions as my brain struggled to absorb the colossal ignorance of the audience's responses. I even rushed upstairs to grab a hoodie to wear just so I could pull it over my face at the most agony-inducing moments.
This is a desperate, desperate situation. Not only am I nasty but I am actually searching for the next 'hit' of idiocy just so I can vent my spleen. I'm watching the Tour de France at the weekend - maybe a weekend of cheering on athletic endeavour will help me get over my misanthropy. But I wouldn't count on it.