HIGNFY: So sharp, so relevant

Barack ObamaFriday night saw the return of Have I Got News For You? and it’s hard to think of a time when this show has ever been more relevant or important. This latest series in a long line of successes comes complete with new titles, featuring Barack Obama shooting hoops.

Series 37 kicked off with Frank Skinner at the helm. Bouyed by his recent welcoming into the world of journalism via his Times column, Skinner delivered his lines with the dry composure which has been the hallmark of some of the best HIGNFY hosts. The Beeb could do a lot worse than to pick him as the new permanent anchor.

Rotund funny-woman Katy Brand put in a suprisingly intellectual turn on Ian Hislop’s team: “You’re not actually allowed to take a picture of the police or film the police, or even look at the police because of the Anti-Terrorist laws.” Someone has been doing her homework. Paul Merton’s reply? “That’s gonna knock the stuffing out of The Bill, innit?”

But the real highlight came when Hislop laid into the token politican and Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Alan Duncan MP, for his second and third homes. As Hislop put it “I’ve been doing your second-homework.” A truly no-holds barred grilling of the would-be Tory home secretary and a fine example of just why we love Penfold.

What with the world-summits, political scandals and police bust-ups of late, Friday nights have been yearning out for the return of HIGNFY’s unique brand of dry, witty satire. God knows I’ve missed it, and you can tell by the zeal with which Hislop stove into Duncan that he’s missed it too.

Last night’s episode can be viewed on BBC iPlayer for the next 6 days, here.

I’m Off To Bedfordshire

[Originally posted on 07 August 2008]

I’ve got a love/hate relationship with sleep.
This oscillates every 12 hours or so.
It goes back to when I was 8 years old, when the two times a day I moaned the most were:
‘Muuum, just let me sleep 10 mins more’
‘Muuuuum, just let me stay up 10 mins more’
I’d like to think that both those parts of me are still very much alive.

A Teenage Motto
A Teenage Motto

Sleeping is essentially boring: it’s drifting into unconsciousness; it’s a lack of activity; we just do it because we have to. And yet, waking up in the morning can be so damn hard in the face of sheer laziness and inertia.  Lie-ins are tempting, sometime irresistible, but when you think that all this dozing takes up around 1/3 of our lives, this suddenly seems like a massive waste.

I’ve certainly had many times at Durham when I thought ‘I wish I just didn’t have to sleep’. It gets in the way when you’re really busy, so wouldn’t it be great – never sleeping? If you could have all that extra time back, there are so many more useful things you could fit into the time – learn a musical instrument, a language, catch up on work or just organise your life. It’d be fantastic. But in real life you can only cheat fatigue for so long before you go insane, or, in extreme cases, after about ten days or so, you die.
Maybe I’m an optimist, but I imagine a nice hospital-bed death as being a bit like falling asleep: giving in, drifting off, letting go of consciousness. Apparently 53% of us are fortunate enough to die in this way, but would that make it any less scary?

Nodding off on the job
Nodding off on the job

Of course we could die every time we fall asleep, but it’s not something we worry about. When you’re asleep you’re at your most vulnerable, completely open to attack and abuse and so sleeping next to someone else is the ultimate sign of trust. You are showing that you are 100% comfortable around them, and you trust that they won’t hurt you. Effectively you are putting yourself entirely at the other person’s mercy, which makes it such a big stage in any relationship, even if you’re not going to have sex.
Also, pranks on sleeping people are really quite damaging – you may laugh it off at the time, but it majorly dents any sense of trust. A friend of mine recently got robbed whilst he was in the house and asleep, but to be honest I’m not sure it would have been much better to be awake!
I could ramble on about this subject for ages, and there are so many ways of exploring it, but basically I think that sleep is at once our best friend and a necessary evil. It is the most boring thing you can do, from an exterior perspective, but it is also meant to burn more calories than watching TV!
But that’s another rant for another time.

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