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The Friday Speed Read
Every week The Friday Speed Read takes off its jacket, rolls up its chunky-knit sleeves, slugs from a non-branded energy drink before getting down to the serious business of wrestling the biggest stories of the week into red-eyed submission.
There used to be a saying amongst people who’d get a kick out of turning up uninvited to your life and providing you with a saying even when you hadn’t asked for one, that today’s front pages will be tomorrow’s wrapping for fish and chips. ‘Don’t fret’, they’d say, sidling up to you like an ugly bloke in a disco, ‘come the morning, that front page that’s got you all puce-cheeked and grumpy will be soaking up the vinegar bleeding out from a small haddock with large chips’. And then they’d scamper off to bother someone else with their food-based aphorisms and cod-philosophies. Yep, that’s COD philosophies. (Thank you).
Of course, even the least gifted sociologists and slowest of cultural historians will be able to tell you that newspaper front pages in this many-chambered hell that passes itself off for the present day barely make it into most people’s hands, let alone winding up as chip cornets. The news barrels onwards with such dizzying rapidity that it’s out of date almost as soon as it’s reported; plus if you’ve ever tried wrapping a saveloy in an iPad then you’ll know that you’ll have a hell of a job convincing the blue-shirted loon in the Apple Store that he needs to widen his definition of “normal wear and tear”.
So, with this in mind, we’re going to reserve a paragraph at the end of this week’s Speed Read purely to accommodate the very latest updates from what the Guardian’s John Crace described this week as “The Crystal Maze on crystal meth” but is known to you and me as good old Brexit. And yes, this addendum will be dated even at the moment of publication but you know, just like our doomed Prime Minister, we will have tried.
Anyway, before we get inevitably get sucked into this week’s political quicksand, let’s take an earlier-than-normal skip around the Elysian Fields of “other news” because frankly we could all do with a break: so, the weather’s been nice, hasn’t it? Yep, really nice. The Star on Monday predicted a “26C Spring Scorchio” (90s Fast Show reference; v. contemporary) but before you throw off all of your clothes, a day later it warned of an “Invasion of Killer Wasps” (which, to be honest, might come as something of a relief at the moment); NASA took a lot of flak for cancelling the first all-female spacewalk because it didn’t have “enough female space suits”; Apple launched its widely-predicted new TV streaming service featuring a huge investment in original programming that will contain no bonking or swearing – a sort of Barbie-doll Netflix; a plane took off from London City airport bound for Dusseldorf which probably explains the widespread consternation of passengers when it landed in Edinburg and, finally, Twitter went into meltdown during Channel 5’s announcement of the results of its “Britain’s favourite crisp” referendum (Doritos, Pringles original and Walkers if you want to get cross too). A 5 million-strong petition and a march through the capital to demand a second vote is inevitable.
Oh yes, quickly because it’s brilliant, The Star (which is refusing to talk about Brexit) on Thursday gave hope to hay fever sufferers everywhere by revealing that “experts” (i.e. The Star) have suggested that, and we quote, “sex cures hay fever”. Don’t believe us? Well, here’s the text in full: “Experts say repeatedly seducing your partner when pollen counts are high is worth a go”.
“Worth a go”. Brilliant.
So then, we’re 650 words in so we’d better mention that TM the PM has offered to resign (“Therexit – The Sun”). Maybe this should have come earlier in this week’s roundup but frankly, in a sign o’ the times, it just feels like another thing that’s happened. Throw in a MASSIVE U-TURN on TM the PM’s hitherto-loathed deal from Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson (the latter of which began the week in full man-of-the-people mode bleating on in the Telegraph about “summoning the spirit of Moses in Exodus”) and add to this the series of ‘indicative votes’ in the Commons on Wednesday about what the hell to do next, the results of which were that MPs were against ALL possible routes forward and you’ve got . . . . well, you’ve got an awful lot of nothing at all.
The Guardian headline: “No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.”
The right-wing press on Thursday morning cast TM the PM as a tragic victim; her flash-lit pallid, haunted face captured in the back of her official car, she looked like she’d been painted in oils by a Renaissance master. The Daily Express stood at her grave and wept: “What more does she have to do?” it sobbed.
O tempora. O mores! As Boris Johnson would probably say.
FRIDAY 3PM UPDATE:
Hello, hello. This is The Friday Speed Read reporting live from the front line of Brexit.
This morning’s headlines ran along predictable lines: “One last chance” – The Mail; “Darkest hour for democracy”, warned the Express; but on the day on which Brexit was scheduled was to be delivered, TM the soon-not-to-be-PM dragged her bruised and battered deal back to the House of Commons for the third time. Presumably she hoped that her promised resignation would persuade more MPs to support the deal but most observers still gave her little chance of success.
And well done to “most observers” because at 3.42pm, the results of the vote were announced and TM the PM lost by 58 votes. In more normal times, this would be a crushing defeat but in the context of her two previous defeats . . . well, it’s still pretty rubbish isn’t it?
So, in the words of Sir Tim Rice, “so what happens now?”
Will there be another suitcase (TM the PM’s) in another hall (Number 10)?
Er, nope. Not yet. TM says she’ll continue “to fight for an orderly Brexit” and parliament will return once again on Monday to dabble in a few more indicative votes, hoping for more success than the first set that occurred earlier this week. On the menu:
Little bit of sick in the mouth at the thought of what might happen?
(Yes, the last one please. We can’t stress enough how much we need the last one).
Whatever happens, we’ll be back next Friday to write about it.
And so a song. The early consensus in the office on Billie Eilish’s new album is massively positive with one colleague punching the air and shouting “FIVE STARS!”. There’s certainly a Brexit connection to be made with the song title “Bury a Friend” but frankly, let’s not bother. Let’s just enjoy the song.