Speed 03 March 2017

For those of us living on the wrong side of Hollywood, the week began with a national trilling of news alerts in the early hours of Monday. What catastrophic event had occurred this time? What new horror had been rained down on the young and innocent? After a pretty bruising couple of years for all of us, (unless you’re reading this and your name is Nigel Farage, which we’d have to think is unlikely), a couple of years that have tested the resolve of even the most avowedly optimistic amongst us, what dark angel had now woken us from our flowery beds?

Well, it turns out that it was worse than any of us could ever have imagined. As even undiscovered tribes in the Amazon rainforest now know, the 89th Academy Awards ended in very-well-dressed farce as Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway invoked the spirit of “the show must go on” and reading from the card that had been given to them, announced La La Land as the winner of Best Film. Even though they’d been given the wrong card. And that La La Land wasn’t the winner. Moonlight was.

It was all pretty excruciating, a bit like that scene in Zoolander (the first one, the good one) when Derek Zoolander goes up to the stage to accept an award even though his name wasn’t the one announced. Except this was real and by Tuesday, every newspaper had the story splashed across its front page almost as if it all actually mattered. The two PwC employees responsible for what has been predictably dubbed by those with no imagination as “envelopegate” have now been given life bans from the Oscar ceremony and finally, mercifully, the story seems to be fading and we can begin the slow, painful process of rebuilding our lives.

Beyond the walls of Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre, the world has continued to turn at a reassuring 1037mph (at the equator, Science fact-checkers), a phenomenon that will be witnessed next year from the best viewpoint since the final Apollo mission in 1972. Two unnamed “space tourists” are each going to pay Elon Musk more than $100,000,000 each to fly them to the moon (well, around it at least) and then back home afterwards. Which seems a bit pricey but at least they’ll rack up a very decent number of Air Miles. If these unfathomably rich amateur astronauts turn out to be the co-founders of Snapchat, the value of which soared to an improbable $28 billion on its first day as a public company, then let’s hope they don’t use their own app to take holiday photos. “Look! I went to the Moon. It was ace . . . here, let me show you . . . . .  oh.”

It’s been a busy few days for Donald Trump who started the week like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep (ask someone over 30) but instead of racing his trolley up and down the aisles of a TV studio-come-fake-shop in Bristol, he filled his basket with as many BOGOF offers on cutting-edge military weaponry as he could get his small hands around. Promising an extra $54 billion in spending for what’s already the best funded military in the world, Trump declared the hike was needed to “ensure peace”. Which of course makes absolute sense.

He then addressed the joint houses of Congress for the first time in a speech that was notable for being, well, relatively normal. A particular highlight was his call for an end to “small thinking and trivial fights” although this presumably excludes using Twitter to lob insults at Meryl Streep; the media; China; the Democrats; the cast of Hamilton; Saturday Night Live; The UN; Obama; both Clintons; the CIA; Buzzfeed; Arnold Schwarzenegger; the Affordable Care Act  . . . . . . . .

Back closer to home, the Government’s Brexit Bill was defeated in the House of Lords as peers tried to guarantee the rights of EU citizens already living in the UK. The response from the Daily Express was vitriolic and the Government responded to the Lord’s vote by promising to make no changes to the bill whatsoever. And so, despite a small delay, the Brexit bill is likely to pass according to TM the PM’s promised timetable and Article 50 will be invoked before the end of the month.

Elsewhere, the Sun reported that, shockingly, ‘healthy’ sausages aren’t actually that healthy (there was no update on Healthy Lard or Healthy Grade A Drugs) and the Daily Mail slapped loveable rogue Sir Philip Green on the back with a jolly “Well done Sir Phil!” headline after he committed to pay £363M into BHS pension funds, an amount that some would argue (say our lawyers) that he really probably shouldn’t have removed in the first place.

And finally, there were reports this week that late Countdown presenter Richard Whiteley may have worked as a spy for MI5. The evidence for this seemingly absurd claim? Well, actor Ricky Tomlinson said he was. And that’s about it. So all in all, probably a load of what in Countdown Conundrum style would be S L L B O O C K (with acknowledgement to Fry and Laurie sometime in the early 90s for that gag).

Have a great weekend. Here’s some Ed Sheeran whose new album is out this week and deserves endless respect for being one of the world’s most successful recording artists while looking like that bloke you went to school with and every now and then see in Gregg’s buying a sausage roll.