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Must do better

My Bank Holiday weekend was slightly strained at times for domestic reasons, not least because I hadn’t realised that it was one, if you see what I mean.

As a retired person, I still have weekdays and weekends, but they tend to all blend into one and in my book a Monday is a ‘weekday’ – end of message. Furthermore, my father’s carer had made a late request to disappear and go home for his twin sons’ birthday, permission for which required that one or more of the family would have to stand in – and I happened to draw the short straw.

All of the above left me with a drive back to the metropolis late yesterday afternoon and at last some some ‘R & R’ (as they used to call it in WW2), which in my case comprised of a long term ‘flop’ in front of the television enhanced by one of Klondike Pete’s finest, viz. a non-alcoholic but fancy Caesar’s cocktail made with a Canadian speciality – Clamato juice – and plenty of spice and ice. The food of the gods, I call it.

Those readers who own high-performance motors, or speed boats, or even light aircraft will be aware of the phenomenon that – after a lengthy outing – once you’re back in the garage or aircraft hangar and all the engines and cockpit systems have been shut down, so (seemingly) does the world. Including your own body.

Last night, mine had done so as early as 6.30pm, by which time I could feel my eyelids struggling to refrain from drooping and closing, I began yawning … and gradually became increasingly aware of how much more comfortable and cosy I might feel if I was tucked up in bed and asleep.

I don’t mind admitting that it took as huge effort to stay up as planned until 8.30pm in order to watch one of the big General Election set-pieces: May v Corbyn: The Battle For Number Ten (I believe simultaneously broadcast by Channel Four and Sky News), in which the leaders of the Tory and Labour parties appeared, one after the other, in front of first a studio audience and then Jeremy Paxman.

From a personal perspective I have never understood the media hoo-hah about Theresa May’s refusal to appear in any TV Leaders’ Debates. As events they’re always disappointing, boring and viewers never learn anything from them. The only potential benefit of watching them are the twin off-chances that you might ‘learn’ something about the personalities of the participants and/or witness them being skewered by an incisive grand inquisitor.

I discovered I was drifting away even before the opening titles rolled, but that was my problem – not the programme’s.

Corbyn5Mr Corbyn was up first and – against my expectation – he was surprisingly impressive. In the sense that he came across as a principled and easy-going regular human being – making his political points with respect, humility and a twinkle in his eye.

He actually listened to the questions and ‘engaged’ with the questioner but did not shirk making his points even though some of the audience (allegedly carefully selected to consist of one-third Tories, one-third Labour and one-third undecided) were never going to like it.

I’d actually give his overall performance on the night a 7 out of 10. Even when put under pressure by a pompous and off-form Paxo, he was courteous, under-stated and did okay. I’m not suggesting he said anything new or particularly memorable, because he didn’t. But this was a much-improved Corbyn from the early days of the campaign and PMQs, when he was untutored, uncomfortable and awkward.

In this respect he seems to get better the longer the campaign continues.

Sadly, it is at this point I must bring today’s entry to a close. As the programme was departed for a commercial break, I realised that it was necessary for me to go to bed. I could barely keep my eyes open but, worse, I knew I just didn’t want to be bored for forty-five minutes by Mrs May.

She’s a B-lister at best and never going to be a ‘people’ person. A hard worker, possibly, and well-meaning certainly. But she has no pizzazz, no charisma, no sex or intellectual appeal.

I sensed I already knew what was coming and I wasn’t interested in wasting my time. I figured that I could read the reviews this morning on the newspaper websites.

And guess what?

Judging by the verdicts of the pundits that I have read so far, I made the right choice and didn’t miss anything.

It would be damned amusing, would it not, if after all this hot air and nonsense the General Election result became a close run affair?

About Simon Campion-Brown

A former lecturer in politics at Keele University, Simon now lives in Oxfordshire. Married with two children, in 2007 he decided to monitor the Westminster village via newspaper and television and has never looked back. More Posts