Every week, The Friday Speed Read circles Planet News in a tiny spaceship, its instruments and sensors hunting for hints and suggestions of intelligent life and then beams its findings back to a keyboard in Bristol to be typed up and shared with our handful of readers.
Ah Salzburg! A beguiling little Austrian city nestling coyly at the feet of Alps; baroque in its splendour and cradle of the infant Mozart; where the Gasthaus Schachlwirt restaurant serves “the greatest goulash I’ve ever had in my life” (Susannah, five circles, Trip Advisor) and the majestic twelfth century St Peter’s Abbey is “relatively new and without the allure of older ones” (DonPaulo, three circles, also Trip Advisor). So far, so pleasant. However, this week Salzburg provided both the stage and scenery for what’s been widely reported in the papers this morning as The Humiliation of Theresa May (Part ii).
With a mere six months to go before Brexit, the EU leaders gathered in Austria for a decent meal (not at Gasthaus Schachlwirt, more fool them), a few beers and a chat ahead of next month’s final round of negotiations over the terms of Britain’s departure from Club Europe. TM the PM was to be given a ten-minute slot to speak at midnight on Wednesday night, when everyone would be sufficiently lubricated for a warm fuzzy glow to prevail and all earlier rancour, mistrust and recrimination would dissipate. TM would offer a compromise. The EU leaders, wine-bent and full-bellied would hail a breakthrough and TM would return home to the Tory party conference in triumph like Jesus on a Donkey. Except without the donkey. Or being Jesus.
In reality, there was no offer of compromise. And therefore, the reaction to TM’s “Chequers” plan from her EU counterparts was one of arms-folded, stern-browed contempt. You remember that famous scene from The Simpsons when Homer repeatedly steps on rakes which then flip up and smash him the face? Well, it was just like that. Except it didn’t become funny again it just became more ever-more tragic.
This morning’s headlines read like a eulogy. “Your Brexit’s broken” (The Mirror); “May humiliated” (The Guardian); “The Saltzburg Disaster (i, making it sound like a modestly-scaled 80s action movie); “Nein, Nein, Nein” (The Metro, being uncharacteristically adept); “Humiliation for May” (Times) and the Sun, of course the Sun: “EU dirty rats” along with a photo of Macron and Tusk as Capone-era “two bit mobsters” who have ambushed our chances of leaving the EU on the terms that we want.
“No Deal” is coming. And it’s going to be incredible. Just ask Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Some other things have happened this week but, frustratingly for scribes of mildly-satirical news columns, not much, aside from the above, received conveniently widespread coverage. However, we’ll do our best to scrape the best bits in the following paragraphs to justify the time you’ve committed to reading this far. However, a warning: in two paragraph’s time we will be using the phrase “Donald’s Trump’s penis” so if you need to clear any young children or those with weak hearts from the room then we suggest you do it now.
It’s been a bad week for the air that we breathe. On Monday, The Guardian reported on a study that found particles of air-borne in the placentas of new-born children and on Wednesday both the Mail and Times dedicated their front pages to the news that shoddy air has been proven to exacerbate dementia. Talking of air, there’s been a lot of it propelled at high velocity this week as the first named storm of the season, Storm Ali, hit the north of the country. The Star rubbed its hands in glee and opened its box of “storm vocab” and, with the bonus of a boxing pun, revealed that Ali would “batter” the UK and “travel hell” would ensue. Which, to be fair, was largely true.
Tesco made the papers this week after opening the doors to its brand new “discount store” called Jack’s. Established to (fish) counter the rise of Teutonic invaders Aldi and Lidl, with their cheap prices and bulging middle aisles (not a euphemism) of “random stuff you don’t need but it’s cheap so what the hell”, we can’t help wondering if Tesco has missed a trick in terms of the name. There’s a whole cohort of 90s dance music fans who’d surely rush to “Bargain Basement Jaxx” . . . . alright, that’s a weak gag requiring a pre-Millennial grasp of culture that has no worth or relevance in 2018. But we found it funny. Okay? Fine. Let’s move on.
Donald Trump’s penis looks like the mushroom from Mario Kart. And now you CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT IT. But yes, the more salacious corners of our national media leapt on the chance to report this choice nugget from the forthcoming book by Stormy Daniels, the woman famously paid-off (not even allegedly, demonstrably) by the Trump regime to keep quiet about an affair with DJT. Let’s not dwell on this. There’s, almost literally, nothing to see but we are NEVER PLAYING MARIO KART again.
Rushing quickly to other news this week, Thursday’s front pages were dominated by coverage of the rail regulator’s damning report on this year’s new timetable chaos “Off the Rails” (the Mail, a little unimaginatively); the Liberal Democrats held their annual conference and nobody noticed; TM the PM said that people should be “proud” of living in council houses before going home to her £2,000,000 plus residence; Coca-Cola is considering creating a range of cannabis-infused “wellness drinks” (although it’s got a LOT of crisps to eat first); Meghan Markle has been volunteering at a community kitchen project near Grenfell Tower because she’s ace and we love her and Trump’s trade war with China has begun.
Oh yes, a brief but hearty nod to The Sun’s pun desk for their work on a story about the very small (but still legal) amount of tax paid by Starbuck’s in the UK: “Too Little. Too Latte”. (8.5/10 – excellent, keep it up).
And finally, the Croydon Cat Killer has been unmasked. After a police investigation costing half a million quid and a personal plea from 90s actor and feline-thropist (almost works) Martin Clunes, the murderer of dozens of moggies in the south-eastern suburbs of London has been revealed: a fox. Not Michael J Fox, or Sam Fox (giggled the Star on its Friday front page) but a real fox and NOT, as reported in the Sun in January, “an East European lorry driver”.
To play us out, and with apologies to the excellent Wolf Alice who won the Mercury Music Prize last night, here’s the very wonderful and very French Christine and the Queens whose new album is released today and whom we love almost as much as we love the Duchess of Sussex. WARNING: NOT IN ENGLISH.