Speed 28 July 2017

It seems that the past week has seen a lot of endings; some of them good, some of them bad, several that have inspired little more than a shrug from TFSR desk and one that’s just unbearably sad. So if you need a theme for your doctoral thesis on the working week that spanned July 24th to July 28th 2017 then “Endings” would be apt.

(And if you’re a 90s kid and think that all of this is just an excuse to play a certain Blur song at the end of this week’s column then I am not going to contradict you).

So let’s start our week of endings with the announcement from our minority government that sales of cars powered by internal combustion engines will be banned from the year 2040. Now this is admittedly a long way off (assuming that you’re reading this in the year 2017 and, let’s be honest, the chances of this column being read further into the future than about Sunday are very slim indeed) but all the papers this week agreed that it was a pretty monumental decision. So that’s 23 years for manufacturers to come up with alternative fuels with electric being the current front-runner to become the new standard. There are, however, some alternatives to this alternative fuel and they include gravity (for journeys downhill), kitchen waste like in Back to the Future 2 and, most pleasing of all, Jeremy Clarkson’s tears, of which billions will be shed over the coming years as the petrol engine fades into antiquity.

We’re not sure of Jeremy Clarkson’s views on Microsoft Paint (but we assume they’re acerbic, straight-talking and refreshingly un-PC) but this long-time staple of both home and office-timewasting -when-you-should-be-writing-that-report computing was put out to pasture by whoever runs Windows now Bill Gates is curing the world’s diseases. It was announced that the next Windows update would remove Paint from users’ machines and with it the ability to render the darkest corners of your imagination in crude colours and simple shapes. After a worldwide outcry MS relented somewhat and said that it would still be available to download but we’re going to simply ignore this addendum to the story because it doesn’t fit this week’s theme.

Okay, we admit it. For the past several weeks the nation’s tabloid newspapers have been giving full-frontal coverage to a television programme called (checks notes) Love Island and despite this, the number of mentions it has received in The Friday Speed Read is exactly zero. Now please don’t think this is because of some deep-rooted snobbery on our part; not a bit of it (well a little bit) but rather that we’ve never seen an episode. So to rectify this, we’ve just read all 86 pages (fact!) of coverage on the Sun website and it appears that some young-ish people go to live on an island together, don’t wear very much and then may or may not have sex with each other in various combinations.

On Tuesday night, Love Island was ‘won’ by a man called Kem and a lady called Amber and the papers on Wednesday were very happy for them. In a “Sun exclusive” (also featuring in the Star), Kem told the paper, “we was at it like rabbits”. Which is just lovely.

In the first and only segue in this history of journalism from animal sex similes to Tory cabinet ministers (and politics fans with long memories will know that this is clearly not true) there was widespread praise for the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid who announced a ban on property developers selling the leasehold to new houses separately from the houses themselves and therefore making the new owners liable for ground rent that could be raised on a whim. His justification was that there was no reason for such leaseholds to exist other than to squeeze money out of others and so they should be banned. And everyone agreed because he was right.

Other endings included Prince William’s career as an air ambulance pilot; the freedom of a man convicted of putting horse meat into burgers and the right of transgender people to serve in the US military following DJT’s announcement that they would be banned due to “medical costs”, even though this makes no sense and even his own generals disagree with him.

The saddest end of all this week came with a story that has rarely been out of the headlines for months. The parents of terminally ill baby Charlie Gard gave up their court battle to allow them to take their son to America, against the advice of Great Ormond Street Hospital, when it became clear that Charlie was too ill to go anywhere. He’s now being taken to a hospice to be allowed to die, as the judge said, “with dignity”. This has been a distressing story not just for the obvious sympathy with parents going through unimaginable sadness but also for the reaction of some people who saw fit to send death threats to doctors at GOSH. In the main, the reporting of the case in all the papers has been exemplary.

So here we go then. Most of you are too young but here’s one the finest songs about “the end” that we know. See you next week.