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The Friday Speed Read
Every week, The Friday Speed Read sits beneath roaring skies and summons the spirits of its ancestors via a complex ritual of cider and indie song lyrics and asks to be guided towards a summary of the biggest news stories which it then scribbles down for your edification and pity.
Listen, we’ve got a plan. Clever space people (astronomers, but they prefer ‘clever space people’, we asked them) this week announced that they’ve found a NEW PLANET and it has WATER in its atmosphere and given its relatively comfortable distance from the star around which it orbits, it might just, just might be able to sustain life. And so, we reckon we should pack a suitcase and bloody well go. Yes, there are a few, shall we say, challenges inherent in this plan. It’s not exactly what you’d call close; in fact we’re going to need to travel at the speed of light for one hundred and eleven years in order to get there but think of the opportunity for playlists. And if we get one of those massive bags of wine gums, they should see us through most of the journey. When we arrive, there will be a few more challenges to overcome, not least the fact that the size of the planet would render us all twice as heavy as we are on Earth which would be a bit annoying, particularly in January. But think of the opportunities for making a fortune with Slimming World franchises.
It’s also currently got a rubbish name: K2-18b but, hey, we know a damn good PR agency that could come up with a range of better options quicker than two shakes of the tail of a cow genetically modified for life on a different planet. Ideas that spring to mind, and we’re just riffing here: Planet Earth 2, Bercownia, Speed Communications, InstaEarth, Simon (we really think there should be more planets called Simon) . . . . okay, okay, it’s a plan laden with risk and with the exchange rate being what it is, it’s probably going to cost a fair few quid but we can start a crowdfunding page and hell, it might be horrible when we get there, we may all fall out and go all Lord of the Flies over the BAN ON SELFIES that we’d impose the moment we stepped out of our space car but at least it would be new and exciting and it wouldn’t be burning, flooding, Brexiting or bleeding. It would be a chance. And right now, it’s a chance we’d take.
Back here on the OG Earth, it’s been another rocky week for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he failed to break his duck on winning votes in parliament. Late on Monday night, when only a special type of lunatic was watching BBC Parliament (hand up), the government failed in its second attempt to force a general election; it was also compelled to release more of its planning documents for a no-deal Brexit (spoiler alert: queues, food shortages, medicine shortages, riots, Nigel Farage’s permagrin) and then Parliament was officially prorogued until October 14th with a flurry of scribbled signs reading “silenced” held up by opposition MPs and a “choir” of Welsh (bless the Welsh) members singing Calon Lân. It was beautiful, bizarre and melancholy.
Monday was also notable for the announcement by the Speaker John Bercow that he was going to step down before the next election, thus neatly thwarting a plan by Andrea Leadsom to shun tradition and put up a candidate to stand against him in his constituency. But Bercow is a cunning fox and it’s exactly this sort of move that makes him such a loathed figure amongst anyone of a Brexity bent. It also means that his successor will be chosen by a “Remainer” parliament and on Tuesday, there was a lot of teeth gnashing in all the usual places. Here’s one choice phrase from Littlejohn in the Mail: “the partisan, pipsqueak who disgraced his office”. Well, we don’t about “disgracing” but he definitely extended his office by opening Monday’s final session of this parliament with an hour an a half of tributes from MPs attesting to his magnificence.
And with parliament prorogued, the news torch could be shone into corners that have remained in the Brexit shadow these past few strange weeks. Remember Donald Trump? Well, he’s still president of the United States of America and this week he sacked his national security advisor John Bolton. Now, from the weedy liberal position of The Friday Speed Read, this is a very good thing for world peace given Bolton’s approach to international diplomacy was founded on the notion that America should INVADE, BLOW UP AND RAZE TO THE GROUND any nation that dared criticise it. Which leaves us in a very strange place in which the most unstable, childish and bellicose president in US history removes a senior advisor for being even more unstable, childish and bellicose than him. So, well done Donald Trump. Surely that can’t be right? It feels very strange to type that phrase.
The award for “Most Sun-like front page of the week” goes to The Sun for its Wednesday effort: “Fired Man Sam”, alongside a story that Lincolnshire Fire Service has OUSTED the lovable, big-nosed Welsh firefighter as its mascot for being outdated and not representative of the diverse nature of the modern fire service. Cue outrage (of course) at the ridiculous state of the modern world in which the word “man” is taboo but HANG ON, has no one thought about what Sam is going to do now? He’ll be forced into personal appearances at terrible student nights at terrible nightclubs, signing breasts and bottoms as drunk near-adults pose for selfies and make jokes about hoses and Pontypanties and then he’ll end the night in the dim light of his sparse sitting room, drunk on cooking brandy, as the tears blur his view of the photographs of happier times that line his neat mantelpiece.
The “other news this week” paragraph is brought to you this week in partnership with Glaxo Smith Kline as it was revealed that GPs are prescribing record numbers of painkillers, sleeping tablets and anti-depressants such are the happy times in which we live; a man spent £30,000 unsuccessfully trying to fight a £100 speeding fine (interviewed on Five Live: “yeah, well it was my children’s inheritance; they’re a bit cross about it really; they think I’m mad”); Quality Street tubs have made their annual appearance on the pre-Christmas shelves and once again are smaller and container fewer chocolates than last year which is in no way a metaphor; The Downton Abbey film had its London premiere; Strictly’s back on the telly so you can play the annual game of “Well, I know that one, that’s that woman from the 80 and that bloke is on BBC breakfast but I have no idea at all who that one is, or that one, or that one . . . “; and police in Scotland issued instructions to the population to assemble a #GrabBag filled with essential items that would be useful in an “emergency” – torch, pants, Netflix subscription – which begs the question, what does Police Scotland know that we don’t? Maybe it’s time to fire up the spaceship?
Talking of knowing things we don’t, The Guardian isn’t waiting around to see if the world is indeed about to end and it’s getting it’s “Best of C21st culture” lists in this side of the apocalypse. Best film is Daniel Day Lewis shouting in the desert in There Will Be Blood and best album is Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black. And we’re not going to argue with that.
Click on the picture below from some Winehouse. And it will be first on the playlist for the trip to Planet Simon.