The Friday Speed Read
Well it seems like we’re just having to get used to apocalyptic weather. The past week has witnessed a slew of storms, unprecedented in their size, catastrophic in their impact and of course entirely unrelated to climate change which remains, lest you have forgotten, a conspiracy invented by the Chinese.
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
The week began with widespread coverage of Tropical Storm Harvey’s arrival above Texas and the 34 trillion litres of water that it emptied on Houston, Texas before moving on to Louisiana. The images of devastation were ubiquitous across all channels and showed a rich, first world nation seemingly with all the resources it could ever need utterly overwhelmed by the destructive power of the natural forces.
Two days later, the same thing happened again but this time across Asia with large sections of India, Bangladesh and Nepal submerged with a death toll and homelessness figures significantly higher than in the US. Grim indeed.
There were no such problems, thankfully, in the UK, which saw the rarest of things: an August bank holiday weekend spent in lovely warm sunshine, although one that was spoilt for some in Sussex by a cloud of noxious fumes that swept over Beachy Head leaving 150 people needing hospital treatment. The provenance of these fumes remains a mystery but in a comment widely reported, Sussex Police were keen to stress that they hadn’t come from France.
However, there were plenty of noxious fumes in Brussels this week (yes we know, we couldn’t resist) as the absurdist play that is the Brexit negotiations between plucky David Davis and French Michel Barnier recommenced among ever-growing levels of mutual loathing. Barnier accused the UK’s Brexit strategy, such as it is, as nostalgic and unrealistic and Davis cattily spat back that nostalgia and free trade are not the same thing. Exasperation with the utter lack of progress was a common theme across UK newspapers regardless of their political leanings although Friday’s headline in the Daily Express left little room for misinterpretation: “You can’t bully us Mr Barnier” it said with folded arms and a slow, deliberate shake of the head.
On the other side of the world, TM the PM has been in Japan where she tried to ignore the North Korean missiles scudding lazily overhead and instead drank tea, ate sushi, went on one of those really fast trains and refused the chance to partake in a spot of karaoke. In some ways this was a missed opportunity given that a newly reinvigorated TM chose to sidestep any troublesome Brexit chat by telling the world she’s not a quitter and that she wants to lead the Tories into the next election. Had she issued this proclamation via the gift of one too many sakés and a late-night rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s evergreen classic “I will Survive” then maybe the reaction amongst her backbench MPs would have been more favourable.
The Great British Bake Off returned to our screens, shorn of Mary, Mel and Sue but with added adverts befitting of its new home of Channel 4 and, well, everyone thought it was quite good. So good in fact that by the end of the week, the media had stopped talking about the shift to commercial TV and instead got stuck in to the first scandal of the new era: “The Great British Fake Off” barked the Daily Star on Friday morning in response to the revelation that Steven who not only snapped up the coveted Star Baker title in the first episode but also received a Hollywood HANDSHAKE (not a euphemism) is in fact REALLY GOOD AT BAKING CAKES ALREADY. You can see them on Instagram and everything and it’s unfair and it spoils the journey of the competition and we’re all just hopping mad about it here at TFSR. What next? Someone who’s really good at dancing winning Strictly?? Honestly. This country.
After weeks of anticipation and pages of coverage in some papers, the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana came and went without much fuss. Most front pages featured photos of William, Harry and Kate looking at floral tributes laid at Kensington Palace. Despite the Mirror’s headline quoting Harry that “we all lost someone”, the general feeling was that the hysteria from 20 years ago seems like a different world and iconic as she may have been it’s mostly just sad that two boys grew up without their mum.
Other news titbits from the week include some high-ranking staff at high-ranking schools leaving their posts amongst accusations of exam cheating; other schools being criticised for withdrawing students less likely to do well from A Level exams; scientists in the US engineering blood cells to seek and destroy childhood leukaemia and the revelation that you can’t block Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook.
And finally, a story in the Times about a very public way of solving a very private problem. A London pharmacy has promised to deliver emergency medication “such as the morning after pill or Viagra” via a drone straight to your bedroom window. And my, what a wealth of inappropriate puns present themselves as a result (it should be said that the Times impressively avoided ALL of them) but we’re going to be strong and sidestep the chance to be smutty, although we must say that for any gentlemen having problems in the bedroom department the thought of salvation being delivered in full view of the entire street is likely to be utterly horrifying.
This is an idea that’s never going to stand up to scrutiny.
Have a good weekend.
And here’s Pink (whose inspiring message to her daughter at the VMA awards went viral this week) with the song from years ago about her absolute and indefatigable keenness for you to get the party started largely because she’s coming up (from Cornwall presumably).