The Friday Speed Read
So here we are again: Christmas-stuffed, cheese-dazed, flu-ridden and witnesses to the dawn of a new year; this one officially being the eighteenth year of the third millennium but known to its mates down the gastropub as 2018.
How’s it been for you so far? We hope that Tuesday’s return to the office wasn’t too much of a grim awakening from your festive torpor. How many times have you written the wrong year ? How long are you going to hold out before taking down the office decorations? Are you still doling out the “Happy New Years” to everyone who passes like someone desperately trying to empty the Quality Street tin (plastic box) of the final few blue ones that nobody likes?
Howsoever the first few halting steps of the new-born year have panned out for you, please take solace in the fact that at least you’re not Donald Trump. There. That feels good doesn’t it?
Just under a year since his inauguration, DJT has had one of his most trying weeks to date. But in a clumsy attempt to keep the millions of TFSR readers from straying to rival weekly (and weaker) media roundups in the meantime, we’re going to save some of the juiciest morsels of Trump Chat for a little further down the column. A bit like Chesney Hawkes in concert keeping “The One and Only” back for the encore.
Discounting Monday for obvious reasons, Tuesday’s front pages were the usual mixed bag. Many led on the new recommendations from Public Health England that children should be given no more than two 100 calorie snacks a day. The Sun immediately fired up its pun cannon and shot out “Mars Barmy” (5/10 – not bad for just after a holiday) and bemoaned that “kids are banned from eating treats”. What came across an argument in favour of child obesity was in fact, we think, the Sun’s worthy attempt to ward off a media demonization of working class parents; the problem was it came across as lobbying for the chocolate industry.
Christmas came VERY early for The Daily Express with all sorts of BIG WEATHER for it to shout about on its front page. It kicked off 2018 with one its all-time favourites: “80mph storm to lash Britain”. Meanwhile in the parallel world of the Daily Star, its Tuesday cover was given over to the news that fans of Celebrity Big Brother were all hot and bothered by a rumour that Kate (formerly Katie) Price was going to appear on the show; a rumour the Star had itself originated and one that was proved false a day later.
Wednesday felt like a Tuesday and saw the annual return of two of the nation’s favourite moans: the trains and the NHS. “Outcry over rail prices as a Minister takes flight” reported The Times, perfectly capturing the two-for-one megadeal of annoyance in the air at the fact that one, train fares have risen by 3.4% despite many services being rubbish and two, transport secretary Chris Grayling didn’t just keep his head down in the face of a media thundercloud but went so far as jumping on a plane and flying to Qatar.
Elsewhere it was the “winter crisis” in the NHS that garnered the most headlines. The Telegraph, Mail and Guardian, amongst many others, reported on the thousands of routine operations that have been cancelled as hospitals struggle to cope with the post-Christmas rush of illness that has seen ambulances queuing outside A and E departments and patients stranded in corridors for entire days while waiting for beds to become free. Mid-week TM the PM said that the NHS had a contingency plan in place and it was working. Everyone laughed but apparently, she wasn’t joking. But then a day later she made another statement saying that she was sorry that things were a bit tricky. Which is of course what she absolutely meant to say the day before.
Other non-Trump stories to make the papers included more end-of-days weather mongering from the usual suspects “Arctic blast to last a week” (Express) and “Arctic blast hits UK as flu deaths double in a week” (Star); Michael Gove’s plans for farming subsidies post-Brexit (actually a much more interesting story than you might think); anger at the Post Office’s refusal to issue special commemorative Brexit stamps (“Royal Fail” – The Sun, 4/10); the leader of Windsor Council suggesting that all homeless people living in the town should be removed from the streets before The Royal Wedding and widespread revulsion at the release of “black cab rapist” John Worboys after less than 10 years in prison.
It’s been a busy week meaning that we’re already nudging our notional word limit and we’ve not even scratched the fake tanned surface of world of President Trump exposed this week in a series of alleged revelations contained in a new book about the first year of his presidency.
BUT even before this news broke, DJT treated the world to a game of “my nuclear warhead is bigger than your nuclear warhead” conducted via Twitter (of course) and in response to some A-grade Trump-baiting (which isn’t very hard to do) by his old pal Kim Jung-Un. Here’s the tweet in full; some things are simply beyond satire:
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
And then there’s the book. Published today, four days earlier than planned and in spite of an order from Whitehouse lawyers to “desist”, the book claims Trump never expected to win the election; Melania cried at the result (and not with joy); bitter, internecine wars rage between competing factions of senior staff and Trump goes to bed alone at 6.30pm every night, watches three televisions simultaneously and eats a cheeseburger. And won’t let anyone touch his toothbrush. (Actually, we’re with him on the toothbrush).
It’s all been denied of course. Trump tweeted that the book is “full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist” and, for the moment at least, you’re just going to have to decide which side to believe.
If indeed you believe either.
Here we go then. 2018 is up and running and goodness knows what the next 51 weeks are going to bring. It’s probably wise not to speculate for fear of what we might come up with. So let’s have a weekend instead. A weekend and an appropriate track from TFSR stalwarts ABBA that gives a slightly disturbing picture of what a New Year party looked like in mid 70s Sweden.
See you next week.