Speed 30 June 2017

Back in the dark, misty days of 1988, a time long before the internet, electricity and the Jenner sisters, Canadian indie band Barenaked Ladies released a song on CD (you may need to Google what these are) entitled “If I had a Million Dollars”. It’s a nice song in which a nice Canadian singer sings about what nice things he’d buy his presumably nice and definitely Canadian girlfriend if he had a million Canadian dollars (£592,015.88). It even has an accordion on it. Nice. Anyway, this week Theresa May released her own version of the song (she didn’t) called “If I had a Billion Pounds Sterling”. It features lots of flutes, some phat beats and a single lyric that goes “I’d give it to the DUP to ensure that I can command a slender majority in the House of Commons”.

The line doesn’t scan but TM the PM waves away such petty criticism. Haters gonna hate, she said (she didn’t) in the Commons on Tuesday.

All of which is a very silly way of saying that this week saw the signing of the formal agreement between The Conservatives and the DUP that obliges their 10 MPs to support the government in votes during the lifetime of this Parliament. These 10 DUP votes give TM the PM a majority of 6. Which is tiny. But enough to govern effectively. Just.

The cost of this deal was a cool £1,000,000,000, an amount that TM the PM has promised to spend in Northern Ireland in the next few years.

For the record, other things you could buy for a billion pounds sterling include: 117,647,058 copies of Brooklyn Beckham’s new book of photography “What i see”; 40 four-bedroom townhouses in Mayfair; 10 Cristiano Ronaldos or 400,000,000 blocks of Cathedral City Extra Mature Cheddar (350g) currently on special in Tesco.

After a few weeks of near-homogenised front pages, the UK press reverted to more typically diverse themes in the past five days. The Daily Mail spent the week musing on two of its favourite topics: the peskiness of human rights legislation and, of course, the British Royal Family with a serialisation of a new “explosive” biography of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.  Here’s a brief snippet:

Camilla was in her early teens when she discovered boys. It was all perfectly innocent, but the Pony Club dances she went to in Lewes town hall suddenly became way more exciting[1]

Yep. That’s the text. Nothing more to be said.

Still on the royal theme, The Queen was given an 8% pay rise with the Sovereign Grant paid to her annually rising to £82.2 million from 2018. This news was reported factually by the press, and to be fair, this money doesn’t simply get stashed in the royal handbag, but online there was a lot of anger, particularly from public service workers (including the fire crews that attended Grenfell Tower) who still have a 1% cap placed upon their salaries.  For a moment in the week it appeared that the government was planning to remove this cap but then quickly said that it wouldn’t be.  All very 2017.

Many papers reported that the body of Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali is to be exhumed in order to settle a paternity claim by a TV fortune teller and every paper gleefully covered the story that faecal matter has been found in ice used by Costa, Caffe Nero and Starbucks. Missed headline opportunities included: “Make mine a crappuccino”.

The Sun celebrated Wednesday with a large photograph of a couple enthusiastically ‘in flagrante delicto’ aboard a fire engine – the headline: “Hose that Girl?” (2/10. Improvement needed)-  while Channel 4 News’ Jon Snow took a lot of flak for supposedly saying something unprintable about the Tories while posing for a photograph at last weekend’s Glastonbury Festival.

In far more serious matters, further flammable cladding was found on tower blocks around the country and Kensington and Chelsea Council banned non-council members from its first meeting since the fire, a ban that was partially lifted for journalists after an application to the High Court. The meeting began but was then adjourned and many, many people are very angry, claiming that a cover-up is underway.  Also this week, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that 28 years after 96 people died in the Hillsborough disaster, 6 people will be tried for manslaughter.

In the US, Trump’s travel ban was partially reinstated but let’s not talk about that and yesterday in the Commons, Jeremy Corbyn, still buzzing after headlining the Pyramid Stage at Glatso, celebrated a new era of Labour Party unity by sacking three of his frontbenchers after they defied his instruction to abstain in a vote for a Queen’s speech amendment calling for Britain to stay in the EU customs union.

Elsewhere, the iPhone celebrated its 10th birthday with a party that lasted for considerably less than a day because no one had their charger with them.

Finally, and sadly, Michael Bond, creator of Paddington Bear died this week aged 91. Bond’s Paddington stories were filled with humour, pathos and a sheer loveliness that, despite being about the adventures of a bear in a duffle coat, spoke to the very best of all of us. For those old enough to remember the television version of Paddington then the music, stop-frame animation and Michael Horden’s narration is the stuff of which our childhoods were made.

Here’s a favourite clip. Paddington recreates the greatest scene from one the greatest films of all time. Here’s to you Michael Bond.

See you next week.












[1] Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4652314/How-Camilla-confident-flirty-adored-home.html#ixzz4lTVXlU1g