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The Friday Speed Read
Every Friday, The Speed Read sweeps up the crumbs of the week’s news into its open palm and then scatters them confetti-like over your heads in a manner that we hope is at least mildly entertaining.
For as long as humanity has enjoyed the capacity for speech, it has bestowed names upon the goods, chattels, children and pets with which it has surrounded itself. If we see it, we WILL name it. However, like much in the vortex of strange that is life in 21st Century, our innate need to label is getting a little out of hand. Not content with the personification of hurricanes, some areas of the media are now very keen that every meteorological aberration is given its own wrestling name. So following the “Beast from the East”, the Daily Star began the week trumpeting the coming of “The African Blowtorch”.
Whether you think “Scorch of the blowtorch” is a better headline than, say, “Well, it’s going to get quite hot later in the week” is purely a matter of taste; mind you, on Monday, the world had more pressing worries following the Twitter-trailed lobbing of missiles into Syria by the US, UK and France. Following the chemical attack by the loathsome President Assad in Douma, Monday’s front pages almost universally alluded to the anticipated response by Assad-backing Vladimir Putin, one armed not with tanks and guns and bombs but with laptops and a broadband connection: “UK braced for Cyber Revenge”(Mail); “Putin’s Cyber War on Britain” (Mirror); “Cyber War as Russians hit back” (Express).
If the Friday Speed Read doesn’t reach your inbox as normal this week then you’ll know who to blame.
Tuesday’s front pages were dominated by large pictures of Ant not Dec’s face looking wretched after being fined £86,000 for drink driving (four days’ wages pointed out the Mail) alongside words plucked from his clearly sincere statement of apology: “Forgive Me”, “Sorry I let you down” etc. Tuesday also saw the gathering pace of a story that began as something of thorn in the side of TM the PM but was quickly becoming a sizeable chunk of wood. Led by some persistent reporting by the Guardian, alongside a rare ally in the Daily Mail, the story of the precarious legal status of children of the so-called “Windrush generation” was to dominate headlines for three straight days. In a list entitled “Things that Theresa May is known for”, the notion of compassion would rank very low down the list, lower even than “taking the bins out” or “encyclopaedic knowledge of middle period NSYNC (she maintains that “No Strings Attached” is a masterpiece of funky nuance)”. So faced with headlines such as “Shameful” (Mirror) and “Fiasco that shames Britain” (Mail). TM the PM hit back with a three-point masterplan:
In other widely-reported news, Netflix’s creeping annexation of EVERYTHING that you hold dear continued, with millions of new subscribers and billions of new banknotes to spend on making really good telly and Arrested Development. Soon your life (yes you) will be turned into a Netflix Original, spread over two series of twelve episodes and you’ll be replaced by an actor you vaguely recognise from that thing who’s thinner than you, has better teeth than you and doesn’t ever have to apply eczema cream. And you will no longer exist.
The Sun’s pun desk has had one of its leaner weeks. On Wednesday, it went with “Granbo” (5/10 at most) to accompany the story of a grandmother and “weapons fan” who repelled a burglar with a crossbow that she plucked from her heavily-arsenalled walls. She’s 47. And on Friday, happily ploughing its own story furrow, the Sun treated us to “Muttiny” (6.5/10 tops), a story about soldiers in the Irish Guards getting cross about the over-working of their mascot Domnhall the Irish Wolfhound.
The Telegraph reported on a survey by Google revealing that four out of five people are worried that our increased reliance on emoji in our daily communications is making us well rubbish at english and that. Nonsense of course. And to prove it, we shall compose the next paragraph exclusively employing the “fastest growing language in the world” and its structural brilliance and dazzling allusions to a panoply of cultural totems will make you all a bit weepy:
A quick swish through the tall grass of “other news” this week reveals a robot that can build IKEA flatpack furniture; a monthly injection that can reduce migraine attacks by half; the death-knell for plastic straws and cotton buds; the revelation that two of Nigel Farage’s children have German passports; a new plastic-eating enzyme that could transform recycling and Nestle losing a court-case attempting to protect the four-fingered Kit Kat from sneaky Europeans copying its “iconic” design. Brace yourself for an influx of Chit-Chats, Kate-Katze and Gato-Gato, flavoured with sausages, wine and tariff-free trade.
Finally, many of the papers paid tribute to TV host Dale Winton who was found dead at his home this week aged 62. For someone who apparently felt desperately lonely, there was a huge amount of affection expressed at this death and for a generation of middle-aged ex-students, his coloured-jacketed, smile-flashing presenting of Supermarket Sweep was the backdrop to dozens of hungover days not writing essays. Bless him.
To play us out then, a week after the performance the world is still talking about Beyoncé at Coachella. Who knows if it was the greatest gig ever but even through the mobile phone of someone shouting in the crowd, it looked pretty epic.
See you next week.