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The Speed Read May Bank Holiday Special (part one)

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The Friday Speed Read

Every week, The Friday Speed Read puts all of the big news stories from the past seven days in a cocktail shaker, blends it with ice and then pours it into a tall glass for your entertainment and mild intoxication. 

As the Friday Speed Read reaches its 70th edition (a special souvenir collection of the columns’ pithiest asides will be given away free in The Daily Mail tomorrow – it will be half a page long) it is increasingly challenging to find new ways of easing the reader (you!) into the latest anthology of news-based ramblings. We remember, almost exactly a year ago, trying to eke out a semi-amusing and contemporary way of heralding the dual arrival of a bank holiday weekend combined with the promise of some warm sunshine but failing and just going with something like – “Hooray! It’s a three day weekend and it might be quite warm”.

A year on and the challenge remains. So here goes: Hooray! It’s a THREE DAY WEEEKEND and it might be QUITE WARM!

No such inspiration problems at the offices of The Daily Star which, on Thursday, published its strangest front page of the year so far (and that’s an accolade for which there is some stiff competition) which featured Brad Pitt in a Hawaiian shirt, standing next to a weather map alongside the headline “Scorchio!”. It was very odd indeed and the combination of a 90s film star with a catchphrase from a 90s sketch show provides definitive proof that no one under 35 reads newspapers anymore. Suits you sir!

The hoary old “week is a long time in politics” cliché proved itself once again to be true this week. Last Friday Amber Rudd was the Home Secretary and seven days later it’s a case of Amber who? Wasn’t she in Emmerdale? The cavalcade of botches and half-truths that led to the Windrush mess indirectly caused the felling of the Home Sec who admitted that she had misled parliament by merrily telling MPs that there had never in a million years been targets for the expulsion of illegal immigrants even though there, you know, had been. “Good Ruddance” said the Mirror with not a little glee. Rudd was replaced by Sajid Javid, the first British Asian to hold such senior office, who was photographed in front of his new workplace with his legs too far apart, giving the impression he was playing “Stuck in the mud” in a primary school playground. (Google the photo if you’ve not seen it: it’s hilarious).

The one story to draw out a consensus this week across the papers was the news that a computer error has led to thousands of women missing their scheduled breast cancer screening mammograms. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told parliament that 450,000 women had missed their tests and up 270 of this number likely died as a result. “Condemned to die by computer glitch”, said the Express; “Betrayal” said the Mail; “Breast cancer blunder kills 270” said the Mirror; “SCANdal” said the Sun, perhaps misjudging the desire for a pun given the circumstances.

The Good Ship Brexit continues to be tossed on rough seas with TM the PM convening her special Brexit Supergroup this week with a brief to solve what is essentially the unsolvable problem of creating a post-Brexit customs relationship with the EU without returning to a “hard” border in Ireland. If TM was stuck for inspiration (and frankly, who wouldn’t be?) then help was on hand from the moderate and level-headed forces of the Mail and Express who both dedicated front pages telling the PM what to do. “Show us your steel, Mrs May” shouted the Mail; “Whatever you do, don’t call another General Election” warned the Express. It surprised no one that both titles were urging May to have as little to do with those pesky Europeans as possible and any sort of customs deal to help UK trade would be a “betrayal”. This Brexit thing is such a laugh isn’t it?

Talking of laugher, President Trump of the United States of Trump has ridden out another week of what in the PTE (Pre-Trump Era) would have been extraordinary but is greeted with little more than a shrug. No one on the planet was shocked (not even Amazonian tribes who’ve had no outside contact or even Netflix for thousands of years) when Trump’s doctor claimed that the letter he wrote before the election claiming that his master’s “physical strength and stamina are extraordinary” and that “he will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency” was in fact dictated by Trump himself. Also in Trumpland this week, the president remembered that perhaps after all he did make a payment to porn star Stormy Daniels following an alleged affair even though previously saying he knew nothing about it. Can we all take a moment to remember that this is the PRESIDENT OF AMERICA that we’re talking about here; surely the Office has never been dragged this far into the filth?

We know you were beginning to worry about how Harry and MM were going to travel from their wedding to the reception and disco afterwards but you can rest easy that they’ve chosen to get an Uber. No they haven’t. They’ve booked an Ascot Landau carriage and their driver will be four horses called Sugarlump, Daisy, Mike Pence and Reesmogg. In other ROYAL WEDDING NEWS, there was some grumbling that the commoners who’ve been invited to stand behind railings slightly nearer the wedding than the other commoners standing behind other railings will have to bring their own food as Harry and Megs have blown the remainder of their budget on minting a souvenir £5 coin featuring a picture of the happy couple looking like different people altogether.

A quick blast through the “other news” pile finds the death of the sickie as more UK workers come into the office when ill; Kanye West claiming that 500 years of slavery was a “choice” that black people made for themselves and this morning’s local election results revealing a nation no closer to being untied with Labour doing relatively well in cities, with the Tories retaining their popularity everywhere else.

And you know what, that’s probably enough for this week. Let’s kick off our shoes, ruffle up our hair, avoid the M5 southbound at least until Saturday morning, and head off for three days of Bank Holiday sunshine.  We hope you enjoy every drop of sun, every bite of burned sausage and every moment you remember that you’re not at work on Monday.

P.S. – Is your life lacking a band who make songs about sea creatures with a variety of props, liquids and toys and is fronted by a 17 year old. Let us solve that problem for you right now. Here’s Superorganism and they are brilliant.

See you next week!

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