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The Friday Speed Read
Every week, The Friday Speed Read, stands beneath the news shower and sings into its loofah a sad song about how things were, how things are and how things are likely to be. This performance is live-streamed to a very select audience and then transcribed for your reading pleasure below.
So as another insane week here in Brexitania draws to a close, once again authors of regular, semi-satirical news columns have been sitting for so long in uneasy reverie that the rosy fingers of dawn have started banging on the door and asking how long said authors are going to be because they really need to use the bathroom and the downstairs loo isn’t flushing properly so they’re not going in there. The cause of this pre-dawn distress? Well, put it this way, given that any semblance of political normality packed its case and disappeared to “find itself” on the sub-continent with nothing but a backpack and an Instagram account some time in early autumn last year, the task of assembling a coherent weekly report of the maddening Brexit endgame becomes ever more, well, maddening.
But then, late on Thursday afternoon, the Gods of Satire (who’s new album “The Album is Dead” is definitely worth an ironic listen) bequeathed a gift to column-writers everywhere. And my, were we grateful. During a comparatively dull debate on taxation, the House of Commons sprung a leak and liquid cascaded from the press gallery earthwards into the chamber forcing the Deputy Speaker to abandon proceedings for the day. For a few glorious moments, satirical WhatsApp groups went blue-tick-crazy with the rumour that said liquid was in in fact effluent from a ruptured sewage pipe; laptops were sprung open, pencils were sharpened, innocent passers-by were elbowed out of the way as a whole generation of political hacks looked skywards in thanks and began drafting copy suggesting that our parliamentary system was finally, justly, drowning in a tsunami of its own sh*t. Glory be!
But the gods giveth. And the gods taketh away. (Idea for a new family TV format: Saturday Night Taketh Away in which an Old Testament God performs songs, sketches and destroys the hopes and dreams of His people cheered on by Ant and Dec . . . . hang on, that already exists, it’s called Britain’s Got Talent). It turned out that the liquid wasn’t effluent but just water and so after a few half-hearted “this is one leak we’re not going to deny” type efforts, the satirists union retired to the pub and got all gin-soaked and melancholy about what might have been.
So, shall we do the Brexit roundup now or later? Up to you; we’ve got great story about cats lined up and it would be a shame if that got bumped but, okay, Brexit first (because we have to) and then cats later. Hold on; we’ll get through this together.
Following a second round of indicative votes on Monday evening which yielded exactly the same result as the previous attempt – i.e. MPs couldn’t agree on anything (Mail – “It’s back to square one”; Mirror – “MPs choose nothing”) , TM the PM shuttered her Cabinet in a room and told them that they were going nowhere until they’d worked out a new plan. Well, even the most optimistic of fantasists were shaking their heads and saying that a consensus was unlikely and indeed so it came to pass. But rather than admit defeat, TM the PM put on a bootleg DVD of The Lego Movie 2 to distract and pacify her Ministers, opened the box marked “don’t ever open this box, like ever” and took out a piece of paper and on that piece of paper was a plan. She crept out the Cabinet room, locked the door behind her and emerged onto the polished Downing Street pavement to announce her next move:
She was going to ask Jeremy Corbyn for help.
You could hear the sound of Brexiteers exploding with bug-eyed rage across the country; astronauts on board the International Space Station reported that it looked “quite pretty” as blue flames licked the skies above the Home Counties. Was the Prime Minister really going to sit down with Glastonbury novelty politician Jeremy Corbyn with his allotment, cardigans and customs unions and try to propagate a plan that parliament could approve? “Is that your bright idea?” demanded The Sun, reviving one of its favourite Photoshop templates and putting JC’s face in a lightbulb. Well, yes it was her idea and, you know, it was certainly better than doing nothing.
Ring ring. Ring ring.
JC Who is this?
TM It’s me. Theresa! How’s it hanging?
JC Theresa who?
TM Theresa May.
JC Theresa may what?
TM Ha! You’re funny! I’d forgotten how funny you were. Listen, I was thinking we might get a drink. There’s a few things that I’d like to run past you.
JC Sorry. I still don’t know who I’m talking to.
TM It’s the f***ing Prime Minister you filthy little Marxist.
JC Oh hi. Listen, I’ve got to prick out some petunias for my hanging baskets. I’ll call you back.
What could go wrong?
Meanwhile, parliament passed legislation (by a single vote) that forces TM the PM to ask for extension to Article 50 to prevent a No Deal exit from the EU and then, this morning, the PM wrote to the EU to ask for an extension until the end of June with a promise to organise the European elections that she always swore would be unacceptable but still might not happen if only she can get JC away from his seedlings . . . . . . it’s time for cats isn’t it?
This is our favourite headline of the week: “Cats do know their names . . . but don’t care”. Yep, scientists in Japan have proved the cats can recognise their own name when spoken but then feel absolutely zero obligation to do anything in response. (Insert satirical observation about cats and Brexit here). We love cats.
Elsewhere, Megan and Harry won Instagram with their new account; heart-related deaths in the UK have dropped by two thirds since the smoking ban but, on the other hand, “Bad diet to blame for 1 in 6 UK deaths”; Great White Sharks “might” be off the UK coast; a group of climate change protestors showed their bums from the public gallery in the Commons and what was happening on planet Daily Star? “Pope: Messi isn’t God” – a front-page splash reporting the Holy Father has clarified that although Lionel Messi is really, really good at football he’s not a Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe.
Finally, the Sun rallied around the bedside of an ailing Mick Jagger and gave us this gift of a headline: “Let’s mend the Knight together”. Given everything else, that’s not a bad effort.