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Each week The Friday Speed Read assembles words about the news into a number of lengthy sentences and then renders them visible via HTML coding for you to enjoy on a screen of your choice. We do it because we care.
Right then; as you prepare yourselves for another weekend of whatever you like to do at the weekend, we’ve got a bit of bad news for you. The end of the world is nigh (What? Right nigh?). And yes we know we’ve been banging on about this for months now, what with Trump and, well, with Trump basically, but this time we’ve got empirical evidence of our impending demise. If you turn your eyes heavenwards this evening, then there’s every chance you’ll witness the thrillingly-named “blood moon”. And if you know your Jewish scriptures (and there’ll be a test at the end of this week’s column) then you’ll realise that this big red moon is very bad news indeed:
“the sun will turn into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes”
So sorry to spoil your day but if you’ve got any last-minute prep you need get done before the oncoming apocalypse then you’d better crack on. To be honest, the whiff of Armageddon has been in the air all week as the UK continues to bake under the unrelenting sun and the newspapers (now firmly in that news dead-zone of the summer months) have led with little else all week. On Tuesday, the Star told us all to “Take the week off!”, while most other papers echoed the advice from the weather boffins at The Met Office that suggested that the best way to avoid the heat was to not go outside in the heat (Note: this “staying in” trick also works for avoiding rain and ex-lovers): “Britain in 95F meltdown!” (The Mirror); “Heatwave Brits at Boiling Point” (The Star); “Hazard Warming” (The Sun); “Stay out of the sun until Friday” (The Express).
Traditionally we’d use a new paragraph to change the subject, to cast our acerbic and satirical eye over other stories trickling down the news pipe this week but, like the flaming sun itself, there’s been no let-up in the “my goodness it’s hot” front pages with The Star on Wednesday painting a vivid picture of the UK as a crime-ridden, rat-infested, stinking wasteland; a conclusion shared by The Sun that filled its Thursday front page with the gaping mouth of a rat, alongside the headline “Gnaws!”. A different note was struck by the Mail on Tuesday, with its reporting of “Tourism Chiefs’ Fury at Summer Killjoys”; nicely playing to the Mail’s conviction that liberal “snowflakes” are leading us all towards a hell where people are pleasant to each other, minorities are respected and people don’t sit under the hot sun getting cancer. All of which does sound terrible.
Elsewhere in Europe, the heat is even more intense than it is here and Wednesday’s front pages featured hellish photographs of the deadly wildfires that torched the Greek town of Attica. Dozens of people were killed in the most horrendous fashion as a wall of flame moved faster than anyone could run through the town. Most headlines quoted the Greek Minister for the Interior: “A biblical disaster”, “An unspeakable tragedy” while the Sun took a wider perspective linking the Greek fires to similar conflagrations in Japan: “The world’s on fire”.
It’s been at least five minutes since someone last mentioned Brexit so let’s correct that right now. In amongst all the heat and rats, this story passed us by with little fanfare but it’s worth enjoying for a moment. On Tuesday, TM the PM had a rather nasty surprise for her new Brexit secretary Dominic “Who?” Raab; fortunately for readers of The Friday Speed Read we secretly recorded the meeting and here’s the transcript:
TM Ah, the Dom-ster! Thanks for popping in; just sweep those rats off the chair and sit down.
DR Thanks boss.
TM Right, so well done on being made Brexit Secretary. You’ll do a great job.
DR I won’t let you down.
TM I’m just going to make a tiny tweak to your job description.
DR Okay . . . .
TM Yes, I’m going to Brussels to lead the Brexit negotiations personally and the Cabinet Office will do all the admin and make the sandwiches. Your department is being downgraded and I won’t need you to do anything remotely connect with Brexit.
DR But I’m still Brexit Secretary?
DR So what shall I do with my time?
TM (Shrugs) Um, do you know anything about pest control?
Let’s take a run up and leap into the sandpit of other news this week: three men were arrested after the incomprehensibly vile act of throwing acid at a three-year-old; ex-Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson appeared in Friday’s papers to thank the NHS for saving his life following bleeding on the brain; a “miracle” cure for Alzheimer’s has been discovered, according to the Express, which of course is brilliant news but the Express does seem to make this claim every couple of weeks; and Sajid Javid seems happy for two Isis terrorists to be extradited to the US to face a possible death penalty. Many agree with him. Some don’t.
And finally, Friday’s papers were VERY keen that we see Prince Harry kissing his wife Megan at a polo match. They seem happy; presumably because they’ve got someone to take the bins out for them.
The biggest film of the week is Mamma Mia Here We Go Again featuring a stellar performance of “Fernando” by the force of nature that is Cher. If the world really is about to end, then we’d like to spend our last few hours in a comfy chair, sipping a glass of wine and listening to Abba. Yep, that would do nicely.