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The Friday Speed Read
Each week the Speed Read struts down the reportage runway wearing a heady amalgamation of the week’s fiercest headlines. These stories are then presented to you in a fabulous display of blog-shaped couture.
This week we are taking a sharp about-turn as our Speed Read supremo enjoys a well-earned break and throws the baton into a brave new digital world. You’ll be pleased to know that the decision has been made NOT to write this week’s blog in emoji form, however, there are few problems which can’t be solved with the use of the sassy lady emoji ?♀️
Talking of sass (or lack thereof), the week’s news headlines have been dominated with the appearance of everyone’s favourite dancing queen, Theresa May, who has been locked into a torturous tango with EU leaders at the Brussels summit. With reports emerging that we are ‘less likely than ever’ to move closer to an agreement over Brexit, it seems that Theresa may well be taking part in the lengthiest and most intricate rickroll of all time – Never Gonna Give You Up, indeed. Thankfully, the Trump administration has been on hand to throw its two cents into the conversation by confirming that the US will only sign a post-Brexit free trade deal once the UK has scrapped “unjustified” food standards. Apparently, the US interpretation of these standards means that any food containing foreign bodies is welcome. I’ll have a side of rat-hair in my Brexit burger please!
In much more palatable news, the ever-glowing Meghan and Prince Harry announced on Tuesday that they are expecting a brand-new royal baby, to the delight of the British tabloids. The Daily Mail jumped for joy: ‘Oh, Baby!’, the Daily Star explored basic rhyme: ‘Meggers Preggers’, while the Daily Telegraph channelled their inner Dickens: ‘Great expectations’. Beneath all of this baby-related hysteria, the much-less reported story from the couple’s royal tour of Australia focused on a speech delivered by Prince Harry on mental health. Presented to a group of Australian farmers situated in vulnerable rural communities against a backdrop of torrential rain, Prince Harry reflected on his own experience of mental health and encouraged those in attendance to “not silently suffer.” Much like his brother, it’s refreshing to see Harry use his platform to raise awareness of an important topic which pushes past the seemingly impenetrable wall of royal tradition, protocol and practice – hats off to you sir, or should I say ‘your royal highness’.
Far from the royal reign in Australia, a steady drift of snowflakes have been kicking up a storm back here in the UK. The Daily Star warned us in early in the week that ‘killjoys are ruining comedy’, as comedian Jennifer Saunders claimed that writing “edgy” material was near impossible due to the sensitivities of said snowflakes. This was followed by a similar story from the Star that included a headline which is best read as Ray Winston: ‘Elf & Safety Snowflakes Ban Xmas’. In the quiet suburbs of Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, Santa is being strapped into a seatbelt in preparation for Christmas 18 and will be required to make 60 ‘regulated’ stops to greet children during the festive period. The decision comes in the wake of the council’s ruling that Santa should not be standing on a moving vehicle – naughty Santa. The local community sprung into Saint Nick’s defence with the creation of the ‘Save Aycliffe Santa Tours’ Facebook groups, where you’ll find nuanced use of the word ‘wassack’ amongst descriptions of ‘hostile’ council meetings. It’s thrilling stuff.
Delving deeper into the world of social media this week provides the perfect opportunity to quote 80s classic The Terminator: ‘It can’t be reasoned with, it can’t be bargained with. It doesn’t feel remorse or fear and it absolutely will not stop. Ever. Until you are dead.’ Now, we might not quite be at the stage where the likes of Facebook and Twitter are stalking us at gun point (or are we?), but it’s fair to say that social media has a very clear and unassailable mind of its own. Facebook kicked off the digi antics this week by revealing that 14 million accounts had personal data stolen last month, allowing hackers to lift nearly all of the data available on members’ profile pages. It may not be the end of the world if someone knows that you are interested in RuPaul’s Drag Race and that your religious view are ‘Jedi’, but Facebook’s growing reputation for data breaches opens up a much larger debate around the channel’s future as a social community which is fast becoming a hacker’s dream.
Over on Twitter, users have been receiving cryptic notifications consisting of a random selection of numbers and letters which has sparked a host of conspiracy theories, from impending Armageddon to the mathematical solution to Brexit. Twitter confirmed that it was none of the above and was simply a leaked string of invisible code – business as usual.
To close off this week’s Speed Read, we’ve got money on our mind as the Bank of England have announced that they are currently seeking nominations for public figures to feature on a newly-designed £50 note. Current contenders include Noor Inayat Khan (heroic ‘Spy Princess’ of WW2), Mary Seacole (pioneering nurse of the Crimean War), Stephen Hawking (scientist extraordinaire and all-round genius), Clement Attlee (co-creator of the NHS) and Margaret Thatcher (an actual iron lady and the UK’s first female PM). Naturally, the general public have had their own ideas around who should feature – notably, a petition to use a picture of England defender Harry Maguire riding an inflatable unicorn has gained over 25,000 signatures. Unfortunately, the Bank of England have asserted that, aside from the Queen, Britons who are alive and well cannot feature. Who ever said democracy was dead? If you’ve got your own suggestion about who should claim the fifty-note fame, then please send your answers on a postcard. T&Cs apply.
In true millennial fashion, it’s time to welcome in the weekend with some post-modern nostalgia and hand the Speed Read baton back to its rightful keeper. Peace out.