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Speed Read: Behind the doors of the Madvent calendar

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The Friday Speed Read

Every week, The Friday Speed Read nips around the back of the office and quickly drinks a 1.5 litre bottle of the biggest news stories before then belching up the highlights for your edification and if you don’t like this image then we agree with you but a job’s a job.

Sometimes your weekly (near enough) edition of The Friday Speed Read is a vessel for detailed, expertly compiled research and inspired, artful jokery that we’ve honed over a number days in front of a specially assembled focus group made up of the finest minds to ensure a high threshold of laugther and sage nods at the universal truth of what’s being said. But sometimes, just sometimes, your weekly (near enough) edition of The Friday Speed Read is the prose equivalent of flicking linguini at a wall and seeing what sticks or leaping off a cliff and hoping to evade the prevailing laws of physics and the gathering weight of too many pre-Christmas mince pies.

See if you can work out which of these categories this week’s offering falls into! (clue: it’s not the first one; to be honest, it’s rarely the first one).

Anyway, happy (Cilla) Black Friday! A day on which a joyful nation gathers to sing songs to the glory of everyone’s favourite erstwhile host of Blind Date and then fight each other for the right to buy cheap UHD televisions in provincial car parks. It really is a magical time of the year and very much how Cilla would want to be remembered. Not one to miss out on fun when it’s happening, we’re excited to offer our very own Black Friday Speed Read deal to you our devoted and incredibly attractive readership: until midnight tonight you can buy one of our much sought after “TM the PM – RIP” t-shirts (image below) for the bargain price of £35.99!* (offer limited to the first 450,000 t-shirts so don’t dawdle).


Hey! Guess what? Two weeks today we’ll have a new government and all our problems will be over. It’s going to be so brilliant we can barely contain our infantile over-excitement and have made ourselves a bespoke advent calendar (or, snigger, “Madvent calendar, MADvent . . . get it? Oh you do. It’s just not funny . . . okay, that stings a bit .  . . ) to count down the few remaining days until EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY FOREVER. It features a beautifully rendered nativity scene in which Joseph is played by Gavin Williamson and Mary by Dominic Raaaaab.  Do you want to open the door for the 29th of November? Go on . . . . what’s there? Oh look! It’s a lovely robin knocking on doors and promising to get Brexit sorted. The 30th? You know you shouldn’t but as it’s you . . . . .Oh look! It’s Jeremy Corbyn slow dancing with a rabbi to the sound of cattle lowing the tune of Merry Xmas (War is Over) And December the 1st? Hooray! It’s Boris Johnson as a snowman rapidly melting as he stands near the burning wreckage of the NHS!

Back the real world of the election it’s been another unedifying week that began with a promise by the Tories to recruit 50,000 extra nurses BUT this number is to include 18,500 who are already working as nurses. No, we don’t get it either. And whatever your politics, there’s a certain, compulsively-horrific quality to watching Nicky Morgan (who’s not even standing in this election) being gradually torn apart on national television over this (nonsensical) claim:

Later in the week, in protest at Boris Johnson’s failure to appear at their leaders’ debate about climate change, Channel 4 not so much “empty-chaired” him but “ice-sculptured” him; replacing the PM with a large block of ice featuring the Conservative logo which quickly melted beneath the studio lights. As visual metaphors go it was simplistic, childish and very effective; reports that the melting ice claimed that it wasn’t so much becoming water as “adding to the lack of ice that had already existed” remain unsubstantiated.

It’s been another rubbish week for Jeremy Corbyn; recent polling suggests that the village of Brown Willy in Cornwall has more chance of becoming Prime Minister than he has and in an interview with Andrew Neil declined the opportunity to apologise for anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. His line was that anti-Jewish feeling in the party had not grown during his time as leader and therefore he’d nothing for which to apologise. Many people thought otherwise. Not least the Chief Rabbi who said that Labour could no longer be seen as the natural choice for Jewish voters. Most of the press pretended to be serious but their glee was hard to conceal: “Has Corbyn’s horror show gifted Boris the keys to Number 10?” asked the Express; “Torn Apart” said the Mail, offering not a shred of sympathy for their least-favourite person of the moment. In response, Labour promised to plant two billion trees which sounds like a policy made up at a crisis meeting, regardless of the noble intent.

Who’s going to win? (Don’t answer that) but 3.2 million people registered to vote after the election was called; more than enough to keep things interesting right up to the final door of our Madvent calendar (still not funny?).

In other news, we’re not going to talk anymore about Prince An***w; coffee is effective for cutting the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes; a quarter of young people are “addicted” (in the true, clinical sense of the word) to their mobile phones and Donald Trump posted a picture of his face melded onto the body of Sylvester Stallone as Rocky. Just because. Also, someone with too much time on their hands has calculated that if every adult sent one fewer pointless “thank you” email a day we’d save more than 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year or 81,152 flights to Madrid.

Finally, 90s chef Gary Rhodes, satire pioneer and opera director Jonathan Miller and writer and broadcaster Clive James all died this week. For a fan of the myriad possibilities of language, James is a heroic figure. By his own admission, “too smart by three quarters” his turn of phrase was a perfect blend of wit, wide reading and humanity. This was the man who described Arnold Schwarzenegger as having “a body like a condom full of walnuts” and said that “a sense of humour is just common sense, dancing”.

We can’t improve on that. So, here’s a Christmas ad by Apple that made us cry – click on the picture below.

UPDATE: The above was written on the morning of Friday 29th of November, before this afternoon’s events on London Bridge.

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