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The Friday Speed Read
Every week, The Friday Speed Read deploys its team of news-spies out into the world to surreptitiously scour what passes for the media in search of the best stories for your entertainment and edification. You will never know the identity of these spies unless you get them drunk at which point they’ll likely tell you everything.
And as we stand on the cusp of a three-day weekend, silhouetted and made glorious by the rising early-summer sun, we clutch our copy of the Daily Star’s front page from Monday and punch the air with febrile excitement at the sheer amount of fun we’re going to have: “Beer comes another bank holiday folks! 26C!”.
It’s going to be brilliant.
*puts down copy of Monday’s Daily Star and checks the actual weather forecast*
Oh well, who wants to be outside anyway? Bad things happen outside. And beer makes us gassy and morose so a bank holiday shivering in the safety of our homes seems like a decent option after all. And what an opportunity to humilate your friends and lovers in a game of Scrabble as you stamp all over their chances to beat with you with a phalanx of the new words added this week to the official Scrabble dictionary. Here’s fun: how many words in the following sentence are now legit in smokey Scrabble dens around the world?
Yowza! My bae might be genderqueer, hench and fleek but he’s always mansplaining when it comes to fatbergs (ew!) and has a wallet full of Quapik which as anyone knows is the currency of Azerbaijan. He’s also a remainer. OK?
Trick question. All of these words slapped down at a Scrabble party will have you reaching for the scoring pencil and your opponents reaching for a large, blunt object to hurl in the direction of your smug face. “OK” is now valid in Scrabble? And you thought the modern world couldn’t get any worse.
It’s been a rubbish week if you are Gavin Williamson. In ten (five?) years’ time no one will remember who Gavin Williamson was but for 24 hours between Wednesday night and Thursday his face was plastered across more websites and newspapers than (insert contemporary reference of your choice here). TM the PM sacked Williamson from his job as Defence Secretary for being the person who phoned the Daily Telegraph to tell them what had happened at the now vaguely-infamous and very top-secret National Security meeting about Huawei. Williamson, it must be said, has strenuously denied that he’s guilty, even going so far as to swear on the lives of his children that he was not the leak, which seems like a dubious line to take whatever the truth of the situation. But regardless, he remains an ex-minister and here at The Friday Speed Read he will be missed, if only for his baffling but brilliantly entertaining flourishes such as his suggestion that the army should mount machine guns on tractors and that Russia should “go away and shut up”.
The papers reacted as the papers do: “Sacked for treachery” (The Express); “May tells defence secretary: you leaked, you are fired” (The Guardian); “Leaky Chump Time” (The Sun, obviously); “Huawei and shut up” (The Mail, ouch) and The Telegraph, presumably knowing whether he’s guilty or not, “You’ve got the wrong man, Williamson tells May”.
If you can bear another paragraph rooted in the political realm, then both the Tories and Labour are sore-headed (and not in a good way) following a kicking by the fewer than 1 in 3 people who could be bothered to vote in Thursday’s local elections. It’s no surprise that despite having little to do with local politics Brexit looks like it has swung a wrecking ball through traditional allegiances. Brexit-fans in the shires are angry with the Tories because we’ve still not Brexited; Remainers in the south are angry with Labour for being so utterly equivocal about the possibility of a second referendum; with Brexit-loving Labour supporters in the North being angry that Labour is even considering a second referendum. Basically, everyone’s angry with everyone. Except the Lib Dems, who’ve had a really good night simply because they are not Labour of the Tories. But, don’t fret, it won’t be long before everyone is angry with them too.
Away from politics, Monday’s papers gave copious space to a new report that demonstrated an unequivocal link between obesity and early death (“18.5 Brits in fat danger zone”) so you’d better stop eating Percy Pig sweets at your desk like there’s no tomorrow (news just in: there will be a tomorrow) which, according to the Sun at least, is going to be an easy lifestyle change to make. Why? Because M&S has made them VEGAN and the Sun is VERY angry about it. “Percy Killing” it shouted from its Wednesday front page, “outrage at PC pigs” – M&S turns Percy sweets veggie and shoppers say they taste foul”. High priest of the Anti-PC lobby Piers Morgan agrees and spat a Percy out from his foaming mouth on live TV in what he imagined was a protest but, from this perspective, will be an absolute boon for PP sales.
The Sun Award for Pun of the Week was won by The Sun for its Monday front page featuring a series of photographs of a police officer turning somersaults on a child’s trampoline during a drugs raid, the headline? “Trampoline of Duty” (8/10, excellent).
Elsewhere, we can all be glad that we live in a country in which carrier-bag Fascist “Tommy Robinson” was pelted with a milkshake twice in two days while trailing his racist slime around the north west. He’s pressing charges after the second shake-strike, proving that just because your mind is thick with hate, it doesn’t prevent you suffering from very thin skin.
Let’s sound the ‘other news this week’ klaxon! Honk! A beluga whale with some suspicious accessories strapped to it was spotted harassing fishing boats off the Norwegian coast, leading to the single logical conclusion in the circumstances: this was a SPY WHALE trained by the Russian Navy for nefarious subaqueous purposes (by Friday it had defected, showing no intention of returning to Russia); an attempted bloodless coup in Venezuela became a lot less bloodless when government forces began running over protestors; free cash machines are becoming much rarer ; Shaun Ryder of The Happy Mondays believes his house was invaded by tiny aliens in a spaceship shaped like a spider (this revelation has no connection whatsoever with the amount of drugs Ryder took during the 80s and 90s) and the actor Peter Mayhew who played Chewbacca in Star Wars has died and we’re genuinely quite upset about it.
Finally, hats off once again to scientists, this time for all-but bringing an end to Aids. A study has revealed that antiretroviral drugs are now so good that if everyone currently infected with HIV was properly treated then the spread of the virus would end. Which given the thousands of AIDS deaths over the decades is genuinely extraordinary.
Aids is a dark spectre hanging over what might be the best thing we’ve watched on TV this year (except Fleabag, perhaps . .). “Pose” is on iPlayer in its entirety and if you’re shivering in your house this bank holiday weekend you could warm yourself in its considerable brilliance. “Tommy Robinson” would hate it.