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The Friday Speed Read
Every week The Friday Speed Read gets up extra early in order to visit the news hens and gathers their best and biggest story eggs from the past five days. These eggs are then lightly scrambled and served up with a slice of brown toast for your reading pleasure.
It’s not every week that the rich and energising world of condiments makes it to the top of the Friday Speed Read ‘in-tray’ (which rather appropriately takes the form of a battered notebook, the cover of which is speckled, Pollock-like, with the residue from a recent lunchtime sandwich purchased from the brilliantly-named Sandwich Sandwich); but at the climax of another week of national misery, we thought it best to cut straight to the stuff that actually mattered.
“Salad Scream” shouted the front page (yes this was literally the most important thing happening in the world that day) of Wednesday’s Daily Star, as it reported in high chagrin that those cowboys at Heinz were planning to toss 104 years of tradition and propriety into the incinerator by changing the name of Salad Cream to the entirely offensive and derogatory “Sandwich Cream”. Their reasoning? No one puts salad cream on salads anymore (salads have rights too after all).
By Thursday, while the more flighty and uncommitted areas of the media (i.e. everyone apart from The Star) had found other things to get cross about The Star was still relishing (thank you) its new cause celebre. Its graphic design intern had come up with a logo – S.O.S (c) “Save our Salad (cream)” and reporter Robin Cottle was despatched by his editor to Heinz’s offices dressed AS A BOTTLE OF SALAD CREAM. For some reason, the hard-boiled (eggs) troops of the Heinz Security Team wouldn’t admit Robin into Ketchup Towers but he did manage to grab a soundbite from a startled passer-by. We think Michelle Varian, 62, an everywoman for our troubled times, spoke for us all when she laid down the following for posterity:
“It’s ridiculous and I’m annoyed. I’m still calling it salad cream”.
YES MICHELLE. GOD BLESS YOU.
Another British institution also teetered on the cusp of existence this week as David “J’aime Le Brexit” Davis threated to resign from his post of Minister for Shrugging in the Direction of Michel Barnier. His beef? Foot-stamping opposition to TM the PMs latest attempt to wrest some hint of a solution from the quagmire of impossibility that constitutes the current plan for the Irish border post-Brexit. As far as we know, not a single newspaper despatched a reporter dressed as a bottle of David Davis to Westminster in protest at his potential D-Dexit from the Cabinet.
In the end, D-Dexit was avoided by TM the PM allowing people to believe that her “backstop” solution that would align the UK’s customs regulations with the EU’s after Brexit would be time limited. Even though it probably won’t be. Basically, it’s been another week of rubbish headlines for TM such as: “May accused of deceiving ministers over Brexit” (Times); “Davis in public battle with May” (Telegraph) while Friday’s Sun essentially backed Boris for PM with a bizarre photoshopped image of two human fingers morphing into two sticks of a famous Cadbury’s product: “Two fingers of fudge”, it shouted, presumably alluding to its legendary “Up Yours Delors” front page from 1990. Boris himself is widely quoted in most of Friday’s papers having been secretly recorded bad-mouthing the Treasury while tanked-up at a party. He also suggested that Trump would have made a better job of the Brexit negotiations.
Let’s move on.
It’s been a bad week for streets in the UK. House of Fraser announced the closure of 31 of its high-street stores with the potential loss of 6000 jobs (Ghost Town Britain, The Mirror) and the recent spike in violent street attacks by thugs on mopeds was given a celebrity face with the mugging of Michael McIntyre outside his sons’ school. “McIntyre carjack terror” – The Sun. Both the Express and the Mail tried to calm the nation with headlines such as “Wild West London”; “Have we lost control of our streets?”; “Britain faces summer of knife mayhem” and then gave front pages over to the horrible murder of a 100-year-old woman who died after being mugged in the street in Derby.
The Grenfell Tower inquiry continued and began to examine the “stay put” instruction given by the London Fire Brigade to residents as the fire took hold. “Why weren’t they told to get out?” asked the Telegraph, following testimony from a leading fire engineer who suggested that the stairway was largely free of smoke until 01.30am. The “stay put” order was not changed until 2.47am.
With the word limit looming let’s dip our toes into the tepid water of the Other-News-This-Week Bath: the chaos on Northern Rail continued with John Crace in the Guardian giving Transport Secretary Chris Grayling the following write-up: “Every day is a desperate struggle against the chaos caused by his own hopelessness” (ouch); a third runway at Heathrow is now likely to happen after the government gave the project its backing; three British women are going to receive new wombs in pioneering surgery; Love Island returned to ITV2 and the contestants are still not wearing many clothes; NASA thinks it may have found organic matter preserved in 3.5 billion-year-old bedrock on Mars which might mean we can finally answer David Bowie’s question in the affirmative; Robbie Williams was a celebrity escapee from large hotel fire in Knightsbridge and the Mirror reckons Mick Jagger is copying the clothes choices of Mary Berry – headline: Rolling Scone (of course).
And finally, bees. We’ve long known that honey bees are amongst the smartest cookies in the insect world (honey, dancing, division of labour, males dying after mating etc) but this week it was revealed that bees can recognise the concept of zero (read this if you want to know about the details of the experiment), putting them in a very small subsection of life on earth that has this, relatively abstract when you think about it, ability. This revelation has basically blown the mind of bee scientists (bee brains are very small so it really shouldn’t be possible) and has opened up the possibility of a far more diverse range of contestants on Pointless.
There we go. We’re done. Save for Mick Jagger and bees and there’s a song for that:
See you next week.