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Speed Read: volume 150 special recipe edition

One hundred and fifty times over The Friday Speed Read has dragged itself out of bed at 3am in all weathers to milk the news cows in order to bring fresh pints of summary and comment to your breakfast table at around about three in the afternoon. We’re not planning to stop anytime soon.

Hello. (wash your hands). Welcome to Friday. Hope all’s well with you? It’s a very pleasant morning here at Speed HQ: turning to look out of the window that’s handily placed next to the Speed Read desk we can see a cloudless, light blue sky and rays of spring sunshine playing off a host of golden daffodils just around the corner from M&S. In short, it’s a decent day and after weeks of weather filth then we’re taking a few moments to enjoy it. Join us. Mmmm. Good, isn’t it? Revel in that Vitamin D.

We’re not in the business of making assumptions about the opinions, choices and predilections of our readers but we’re going to take a bit of a punt here and guess that if you’ve clicked on the various links (or picked up a free copy from a petrol station in Bakewell where we leave a stack of photocopies next to the Twix each week) to bring you this far then you’re not massively in the market for 1100 words about coronavirus. If you ARE then we’re sorry and a bit embarrassed but there are several billion words of coronavirus chat available in whichever media outlet or publication you stumble upon. So, we’re going to round-up all the latest Coronanews in a single paragraph below, not because it’s not serious (because it IS serious) but because we all need a bit of a break. But please wash your hands.

Thursday’s headlines pulled no coronapunches: “The point of no return” (Mail); “Nothing can stop virus sweeping Britain” (Express) were two particularly reasoned responses designed to calm fears as the number of UK cases began to grow. Even James Bond didn’t have the sufficient gadgetry or double-entendres to outfox corona as the release of the unfortunately-titled-in-the-circumstances “No Time to Die” was delayed until later in the year. Despicable opportunists started hiking the price of hand-gels and face masks in further proof of that there’s no crisis too big for arseholes to exploit, talking of which, many people have started panic-buying toilet paper. An Australian newspaper printed extra pages of its daily edition for people for use “on the dunny” if they were caught short. Travel is being curtailed; we’re being told not to shake hands; sporting events are being cancelled and the Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has become a sort of minor celebrity but instead of Instagramming himself pouting in mirrors or appearing on Strictly he’s saying things like “UK cases of Coronavirus will keep rising”. Classic Whitty bantz. And as the UK’s first death from Coronavirus was confirmed on Thursday evening things look like they will deteriorate before they improve. But hey, let’s remember that they WILL improve and the vast, vast, head-spinningly overwhelming majority of us are not going to die from coronavirus. But please, please wash your hands.

So then, what else has been knocking around this week? Troubled regional airline Flybe collapsed after years of struggle were compounded by recent changes in travel habits due to coronavirus, gosh, it really is tough to talk about anything else isn’t it? Um, flicks through notebook, ah yes, here’s a good one: green-fingered scientists have worked out how to grow lettuce in space meaning that in the future astronauts will able to tuck into hearty bowls of, er, lettuce which is bound to raise spirits in the endless vacuum of deep space. In unfeasible infrastructure news, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack told MSPs in Scotland that Boris Johnson’s idea of a bridge linking Scotland and Northern Ireland was “a euphemism” and actually a tunnel was more realistic. We’re not quite sure if Mr Jack has quite grasped the concept of euphemism: bun in the oven, powdering your nose, passing on, downstairs smile, special cuddle, bridge? “Are you you keen to travel along my expensively lengthy bridge over a second world war arms dump or are you just pleased to see me?”. Nope, doesn’t work.

And apart from the ongoing “race” for the Democratic presidential nomination in America there’s literally* (not literally) nothing else happening apart from the obvious. Now you might think this paucity of events would make for a good opportunity to bring things to a close a little earlier and head off for the weekend with a spring in your step but if you think we’re going to waste a potential 300 words then you’ve been reading the wrong weekly news column.

In which spirit, let’s head over for only the second time in Speed Read history to Recipe Corner where we’ll join our very underused retained chef Chemmy Salacious for another great dish.

“Hello. It’s good to be back. Finally. Are you still buying humous from high street retailers? Well, you’re ridiculous. Just make your own. It tastes better and simultaneously make you cooler than all of your friends. Do it like this:

  • Drain 1 x can of chickpeas, retaining the liquor
  • Put chickpeas in a blender with – 1 x glove garlic; juice of 1 x lemon; 1 x tablespoon of olive oil; 1 x tablespoon of tahini; salt and pepper
  • Blend and then loosen up the mixture with chickpea liquor until smooth
  • Serve with pitta and an air of superiority.

It’s THAT easy. I’ll be back next time there’s a major international health crisis with my recipe for a trifle that’s so good that it’s illegal in nine nations. Bye!”

Thanks Chemmy.

All of which nonsense means now is probably a good moment to bring this week’s column to a close. But would you just indulge a brief observation that this is (we think) the 150th edition of The Friday Speed Read? This means that we’ve written something in the region of 165,000 words about the news since we began the column over three years ago. Actually, come to think of it, maybe only 100,000 words were actually directly about the news, the other 65,000 were comprised of references to 90s indie bands and fan fiction about the domestic life of Theresa May. But regardless, it’s a pleasure to write the column each week and thank you to those who take the time to say nice things about it.

None of it would be possible without the support, editorial skill and wise judgement of Speed’s MD Kelly Pepworth whose encouragement and often necessary use of her red pen means that we’ve reached this minor milestone without too many incidents. Thanks Kelly.

Here’s to reaching volume 200!

And please wash your hands.

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