Advanced Level Broadsheet Columnism: Section 1

Choose any one question. You have 45 minutes to complete and file your answer for sub-editing.

  1. How arrogant exactly is George W. Bush? Support your answer with half-remembered things you heard at a dinner party earlier in the week, stereotypes of American people, and two of the following clichés:
    • “neo-conservative cabal”
    • “cowboy bully”
    • any phrase combing the words “Blair” and “poodle” or “lapdog”
    • “crushing of dissent”
    • “stole the election”
    • “disaffected Arab youth”
    • “fundamentalist Christian lobby”

    Extra marks will be awarded for quoting Bush Jnr.’s malapropisms and for making pseudo-Freudian references to Bush Snr.  Illustrate your essay with a cartoon depicting the President of the United States as a monkey.

  2. Men are shit.  Discuss.
  3. Why are degrees in English Literature and Ancient History, as studied by your daughters Olivia and Celeste, inherently superior to degrees in Media Studies and Surfing, studied by lower-middle class youngsters with poorer ‘A’-Levels and vowels? Make your case around one or more of the following:
    • Literary and historical studies have been around for a very long time, since the Golden Age of Universities when exams were hard, grants were free, and oiks couldn’t get in.
    • Olivia and Celeste are not oiks.
    • You have a third in English from Brasenose.
    • They’re Mickey Mouse degrees, aren’t they?
    • Oiks should be studying plumbing because the last time you had one round it cost you an arm and a leg. And they all drive BMWs now, don’t you know? It’s shocking—and at the same time as Celeste has had to work in Starbucks since she graduated!
  4. Think of a public figure who has recently been embarrassed by his or her sexual behaviour. Project onto him/her the character traits that led to your estrangement from your former spouse. On the basis of this imagined intimacy, give that public figure unsolicited advice. Ask your editor, “Will that do?”
  5. Extrapolate wildly from something that happened to you on the Tube this morning.
  6. Please write an essay entitled “Why I Can No Longer Vote Labour”.

    On second thoughts, please don’t. No one gives a toss about your insignificant apostasy. Really. Most people who are actually going to put pencil to paper in a polling booth have seen the “value” of their houses go up 20% in the last year alone. Quite a few of them have used their little lottery wins to buy nice new Audi TTs. Their kids have got eyebrow-raisingly good exam results. The overtime money is rolling in. Few of them can remember what an unemployed person looks like (and the hundreds of thousands claiming sickness benefit are at home in front of the telly or driving minicabs). Most people own mobile phones with more processing power than the whole of the World had throughout the 1950s. England are playing cricket like they still have an empire. A DVD player costs so little it’s not worth stealing. In fact, people can’t even remember what it’s like to be burgled or what inflation is. They can, however, remember the unpleasantness of Michael Howard. And him and the ginger bloke from Have I Got News For You? are spineless opportunists flailing around in a sea of public indifference. You think the electorate are shallow, materialistic and care more about paying their mortgages than they do about the deaths of British servicemen overseas. Well, they have as much contempt for your opinion as you have for them. Guess who’s got the power?

In all answers marks will be deducted for the use of peer-reviewed scientific literature, sound statistical approaches, and failing to build your arguments on well-characterized logical errors.