Written by Hannah Dunleavy

In The News

Donkeys and Elephants

There have been casualties in the Republican race, but the field is still pretty packed, mostly with Trump’s angry id. It’s made Hannah Dunleavy nostalgic for a certain childhood game.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

We used to play a game when I was little. Now I’m about to recount it, I realise it sounds like one of those ‘all we had as toys was pieces of two-by-four with some nails in and the only game was counting the slaps the nuns gave you’ stories. I’m not even sorry.

In said game, my mum would put a random selection of kitchen detritus on a tray: plastic Jif lemon, that thing for poaching eggs, you know, the stuff that lies unloved in dusty recesses, waiting only for their Toy Story moment when she would throw open the drawers and hoik them into the daylight and onto the tray. (“It’s not the purpose I was designed for,” said the plug cut off the old kettle, “but I’ll take it.”)

My sister and I would then look at the cornucopia of crap and cooking utensils and leave the room. One by one, Mum would take something off the tray, we’d come back in and if we could tell her what was missing we got a point. What can I say? It was the 1970s.

“I was struggling to imagine what Mum would have in her house that could possibly represent Scott Walker when I was reminded of a corkscrew in my own kitchen drawer.”

Looking back, I think the most appealing thing about this game for our mum was that my sister and I were shit at it. She could get a whole dinner cooked in the time it took us to fail to spot that the mystery key that nobody wanted to throw away just in case had been relegated back to his dark corner. Once I successfully identified that it was the can-opener missing but only because she was using it to get some beans on.

Moving slowly towards my point, last week I saw a photograph of the second Republican Debate. Realising the field was down to 15, I was reminded of that tray of detritus and not just because I couldn’t identify who was missing.

Even taking into account my aforementioned observational limitations, I think it’s a pretty great indicator of the size of the field. That and the fact that since last we met, a second candidate has thrown in the towel and there’s still six more of them than there are Lib Dem MPs.

The guy missing from the line-up was Rick Perry (a plug cut off an old kettle if ever I saw one). The other early casualty was Scott Walker, once talked of as a prospect by experts (of which I’m not one, which is why I talked of him as a misogynist homophobe).

D&E corkscrewI was struggling to imagine what Mum would have in her house that could possibly represent Walker when I was reminded of a corkscrew in my own kitchen drawer. Its provenance is a complete mystery. Yes, I’m pretty likely to have taken a hotel corkscrew, but also yes, I’m pretty sure I’d have remembered staying in a place called Hotel Colon. Anyway, I now can’t help but feel like it came into my life entirely for the purpose of me being able to say that if anyone was planning to give America a Hotel Colon corkscrew, it was Walker. I think they can chalk that up as a lucky escape.

Neither Perry nor Walker will be missed, but what is interesting about their departures (other than them lacking a dance-off) is that one of them is the Governor of Texas and one of them was backed by BIG money. Traditionally these would be good cards to be holding but such is the complexion of this Primary poker game, that they’ve not been considered enough to gamble on.

It can’t be denied that it’s the presence of Donald (glue container with associated drawer fluff) Trump that still means this isn’t so much Republican Primary as Celebrity Republican Primary. Common sense dictates it can only go on for so long and Trump’s current angry response to any polls which don’t show him far enough ahead suggests he has more than enough rope to hang himself with. How many other bits of detritus get taken off the tray before then is what makes this the most interesting race in a long, long time.

Further viewing:

I think Rich Hall might be stalking me. No, stick with me.

For about the last 10 years, every time I turn on TV and Hall is on it, he’s made something I’d request on a BBC feedback form, if anybody ever asked me to fill one in and if I wasn’t entirely incapable of doing so. (Name: Hannah Dunleavy. Surname: Every frigging time.)

The only other explanation is that I once sleep-wrote an email: “Dear BBC, I’d like to see documentaries. Funny ones about history. Interesting anecdotes about the Wild West and the Civil Rights movement. More stuff about Tennessee Williams and lots of things about Westerns, especially how they portray the indigenous population. Any opportunity to bring Willie Nelson, Tom Waits or Bruce Springsteen into things should never be missed. Oh, and a shitload of cynicism. Yours unknowingly, Hannah. PS: Republicans are proper funny too.

This email would then have to have been successfully entered into the ‘viewers’ ideas sack’ out of which one scrap is pulled at the annual ‘I know this sounds crazy, but whatever comes out, we’re 100 per cent going to do it’ meeting. They then gave my brief to Hall because it sounded like something he’d be up for, in the same way they thought of Fiona Bruce the year ‘can one person always be moving their head empathetically’ came out.

Moving slowly towards my point, one of Hall’s seemingly tailor-made series for BBC4, You Can Go to Hell, I’m Going to Texas is back on the iPlayer for a few days. In it he talks about Rick Perry and what an all-round tool he is, one of the many things making it worth a watch. He also talks about the culture behind Texas High School football, making my stalking case only stronger.

Read all Donkeys and Elephants here.


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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.