WHO would willingly be interviewed? Decent ratepayers like us are only subject to the experience when applying for a job or arrested by the police.

It is to be put on the spot, to give an account of ourselves, and experience teaches us that the best strategy to adopt is to lie. Politicians, alas, cannot tell a lie. They’re too decent and honourable for that and so, when invited to be scrutinised by self-selecting tribunes of the people, they find themselves in difficulties.

They talk and, indeed, burble. But obfuscation, hypocrisy, confusion and ignorance are now easily detected by our sophisticated electorate, which starts off hating every candidate until they prove themselves likeable.

Boris Johnson, against considerable odds and handicapped by his background, is seen as likeable by a sizeable chunk of the electorate, including working class persons. Theoretically, that likeability could have taken a hit during a Channel 4 debate on yonder climate, in which the other party leaders and the broadcasters themselves would have ganged up on the Prime Minister.

However, as only three working class persons, out of around 17 viewers in total, watched the programme, this was always going to be unlikely.

Wisely, at any rate, Boris declined to appear, though his dad and his wee boy, Michael Gove, showed up and offered to appear in his place. His dad just seems to have wandered off, but the Goveling had a polite exchange with the programme’s apparatchiks, during which he lied that Channel 4 was a great broadcaster.

Reporter Alex Thomson claimed that, after being told the debate was only for party leaders and not their dads or daft laddies, “M Gove said to me, ‘I am a leader.’ I said, ‘But you’re not the leader.’ He said I shouldn’t worry about prepositions.”

Prepositions? A? The? What can it all mean? This shows how farcical the situation with Channel 4 News has become. The inanity deepened when two melting ice sculptures were put in the places originally reserved for Johnson and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage. Very mature. Very clever. Very students’ union.

This did nothing to reconcile the Tories with the allegedly Maoist television show, where the smirking coupon of Krishnan Guru-Murthy could curdle milk, and the forgetful flounderings of leading activist Jon “Where am I?” Snow lend an amateurish and careless tone to proceedings.

Compare and contrast with the Andrew Neil interviews. Say what you like about his past staff management skills or his distracting barnet, he’s become the foremost interviewer in the country.

There are several reasons for this: his meticulous research (though Scottish Nationalists accuse him of getting things wrong); his willingness to let interviewees speak; his unwillingness to let them obfuscate; a determination to get to the truth; and, most importantly, despite the fact that privately he’s a Tory, an even-handed approach regardless of the interviewee’s party.

Hence top Tory Boris’s wariness of being interviewed by him. A Twitter handle about Boris “running scared” is, like, trending, and there’s no doubt he’ll have to be on the top of his game to emerge unscathed.

Boris says his people are talking to the BBC’s people, and there may be a disappointing scintilla of truth in this, as the consummate wordsmith’s endless repetition of the crass expression “dither and delay” indicates that he’s being worked from the back. Indeed, he went so far as to say that organising such TV appearances was the job of “other people”, which makes him sound more led than leading – odd for the most powerful man in the country.

Oddly enough, there’s a sense in which Boris is a creation of television. But proletarians thinking of voting Tory would be better off reading the right-wing papers to see what they’re really about: inter alia, visceral opposition to any workers getting uppity; an obsession with hunting and other cruelty to animals (generally in favour); and – of late – a belief that Bloody Sunday was an act of strategic military genius whose morally unimpeachable participants should be given medals and huge pensions.

So, forget the theatrics of television performance, my impeccably impartial advice for finding out the truth about parties and their policies is this: Read a paper. Read the small print.


I WOULDN’T normally detain you with the latest intelligence about golfers’ habiliments. However, a disturbing development has occurred regarding their kecks.

Previously, I admit, I’ve made lazy and possibly outdated references to these being gaudy or peculiar, which practitioners of the cult-like activity denied. Sure enough, next time I waddled past a clubhouse, I observed that the trousers of the inmates were broadly satisfactory.

However, this hasn’t been the case this week in South Africa, where international tournament players stunned onlookers by wearing shorts. It’s thought to be the first time in history that this has happened. I’m sure it goes on at municipal courses, and it says here that Muirfield allowed shorts – with “full-length” socks – before women were admitted.

But these were competition professionals in South Africa, upholders of tradition and decency. They blamed the heat, perhaps meaning it had addled their sensibilities.

Some ne’er-do-wells supported the move. World number two Rory Mcilroy said: “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with professional golfers showing the lower half of their leg.”

However, more responsible observers deplored it, with one saying the event resembled a “stag do in Portugal”. A damning indictment. Before long, they’ll be downing Jägerbombs while strippers cavort in the bunkers.


FOLLOWING last week’s devastating and influential column on the pervasiveness of unnatural racket in modern society, I was pleased to note that BBC Radio 3’s highlights this Christmas include the “all-consuming silence” of a walk along the coast of Greenland.

Greenland – An Arctic Sound Walk is an example of “slow radio”, an audio experience that tunes out of the hurly-burly and embraces the world of nature. It’s not completely silent of course. There are “the beating of ravens’ wing, the crackle of frozen streams, the screaming winds”. But then that stops and there’s just “the sudden all-consuming silence when everything stands still”.

In a similar vein, the inspiring Jonna Jinton has made an amazing YouTube video that, accompanied by stunning images, records the sound of ice cracking in the lakes of northern Sweden.

I’d never heard such sounds before, the closest comparison being whales singing. At times, it’s startling. I’m not sure if it’s relaxing – some folk say it helps them sleep or study – but it’s definitely ear-catching and, as with the BBC’s Greenland offering, depends on natural sounds interweaving with periodic silence.

These are all encouraging developments. So, come on, everyone, let’s make some noise for silence.


DO you know what I’d really like? And no, madam, your crude suggestion of low-level violence involving a boot and my posterior is the wrong answer. The right answer is … I’d like to hibernate.

Wouldn’t it be nice? Just to tune out and drop off for a few months in the hope that, when you wake up, all the badness will have gone away and the world will be a better place. Bears do it, along with hedgehogs, dormice, squirrels and fat-tailed lemurs.

Fair enough, they might wake and disappointedly observe: “Same old.” But at least they’d have been out of it for a bit.

Scientists say this could be the way for us to cure all our ailments, including cancer and heart disease. The notion comes after observing how lives were saved using “suspended animation”, with the body chilled until the crisis is over or, at least, some treatment provided.

Certainly gives a new meaning to the expression “chilling out”. You’d need a warm jaickit, right enough, and I’m assuming you’d need to eat a lot nuts and perchance a sausage roll before you go under. But, as long as it was outwith the football season, I’d be game.