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The Friday Speed Read
Every week, The Friday Speed Read climbs to the top of the nearest lighthouse and using skills learnt from a circus man in Bratislava (who once played bass in The Levellers) makes a shadow play of the biggest news stories for the edification and entertainment of passing ships. A version made of words is below.
Good afternoon; it’s 3pm and you’re listening to Radio Speed.
The headlines this Friday afternoon.
Megxit update: Meghan bad. Kate oh so good.
Bovine boffins discover cows chew the fat (cud) about the weather.
There have been more bongs in the news this week than you’d find in the average second year student’s bedroom.
My name is Eliza May Frankle-Withstanding and here is the news.
All of which is to say there’s been much ado about bonging this week (also the name of our new album). To bong or not to bong, that is the question that Hamlet didn’t ask himself in Act 3 Scene 1 of the greatest play in the English language (fact) but probably should have done. If you missed this, then well done but let us bring you up to Speed. Certain enthusiastic Brexit fans have suggested that it would be marvellous if the bells of Big Ben (or Elizabeth Tower if you’re wearing your pedantry pants) should peel at 11pm on the 31st of January to celebrate our departure from the European Union. Only problem is, the bells are currently silent due to extensive renovation work. Oh well . . let’s move on, there’s much with which to occupy us . . . BUT NO! The Prime Minister gave an interview on BBC Breakfast in which he a) said that he was going to smash country drugs lines seemingly just by saying he was going to smash county drugs lines AND b) that if people wanted to chip in to pay for the bells of Big Ben to be temporarily made to ring then he was sure that would be fine and he could make it happen. Probably.
Step forward The Daily Express who appear to take bonging VERY seriously. Below is the full text from Wednesday’s front page which appeared to have been written by Dickens:
“When the clock strikes 11pm on January 31st, our blessed freedom from the confines of Brussels will be secure and a new chapter in the great history of this nation will begin. As a potent symbol of this landmark moment, one thing is certain . . . Big Ben MUST bong for Brexit”
But there was a problem that even an arcane prose style couldn’t solve. It wasn’t possible to make the bells ring out for Brexit day without adding a considerable delay to the renovation work at a cost several times greater than the donations that had been pledged. The Express kicked its feet in frustration, knowing full well who to blame for this cruel intervention of fact: “Remainer stitch-up over Big Ben’s bongs” . . . . . Guys, guys, you won.
Let’s move on. In non-bong news, the beginning of the week was dominated by #Megxit (this is the final time we’ll use this name we swear) and the crisis meeting held at Sandringham Palace between The Queen, Charles, William and Harry. Apparently, Meghan was going to dial-in from Canada but as anyone who’s ever been on a conference call will attest, that was never going to work:
Q: One is mightily unamused young Duch . . .
MM: (on the line) Hello? Hello, it’s Meghan here.
Q: Yes. One . . .
MM: Sorry. Go ahead if . .
MM: Sorry. After . . .
Q: After you.
MM: It’s Meghan . . .
(this continues for ten minutes until the Queen sends the conference line provider for immediate execution in the Tower).
Disappointingly from a comedic point of view, it turned out that Meghan didn’t dial in but the meeting progressed without her and the Queen ended the day with a statement saying that she’d acceded to Harry and Meghan’s wish to step away from royal duties. Although she was pretty grumpy about it if Tuesday’s headlines are to be believed: “Orf you go . . . but one is not amused” (The Sun); “Go if you must” (The Mail); “Gracious Queen grants Harry his wish” (Express).
But that’s not the end of it (sorry). On Thursday with Meghan now, literally, yesterday’s news, the newspapers made it very clear who their favourite princess has always been. The Duchess of Cambridge went to Bradford and ate a curry; she made nearly every front page. The Daily Mail wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity of a massive dig: “Kate the dazzling Duchess shows how it’s done”. It’s hard to think why Meghan wants to leave isn’t it?
There’s a rich seam of ‘other news this week’ to be mined so grab your pickaxe and Davy lamp and let’s get to it: the Government stepped in to save the airline Flybe which was great for Flybe but annoyed the hell out of rival airlines who felt it massively unfair; in the impeachment trial of President Trump began in the Senate which, although unlikely to find the President guilty, feels like a significant moment of seriousness in a presidency that has been almost entirely fantastical (in a bad way); Sandi Toksvig is leaving Bake Off – “I gateau get away” (The Sun, 7/10); someone has launched a podcast for dogs in order to keep them company when owners are at work and featuring stories, jokes and music by Bach (terrible joke, we’re sorry); and Gwyneth Paltrow’s pedlars of snake oil for millionaires Goop has launched a candle called . . . . . actually we’re feeling queasy we can’t finish this one. Look it up if you’re strong-stomached.
Finally, COW NEWS! Australian scientists have “discovered” that cows have their own language (let’s call it ‘Cow’) and via a bovine version of Google (Moo-gle?) Translate have worked out that their main topics of conversation are food, the weather and Love Island. Except not Love Island. So basically, cows are just the same as us. Pass the vegan steaks.
Global music superstar Billie Eilish announced this week that she’s recorded the song for the forthcoming Bond film “No Time to Die”. Eilish is the youngest ever artist to have their music as the backdrop for the slow-moving silhouettes of guns and unfeasibly-breasted women that comprise the average Bond title sequence. She’s not made a bad song in her short career, so hopes are high. But in the meantime, Best Bond song ever? Not even a question.
Click on the picture below.
(Long term readers will know this about the third time we’ve ended with this song. It won’t be the last).