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Best in Show
Every week The Friday Speed Read wraps up the biggest stories in ethically-sourced brown paper and puts them beneath the re-plantable tree of analysis. No peeking! (which as a metaphor is lacking somewhat when you’re trying to persuade people to read your column).
Here’s the plan. We’re hurtling toward the end of the decade with hair-blurring speed (no pun intended) and before you know it, we’ll be rubbing in our eyes sometime in mid-January 2020 and wondering how on earth we got here (and why do our ducts and arteries feel like they are made of stilton?). So, let’s shove a few slalom gates into the compact snow of the Alpine black run that is December in an attempt to not to lose our way in the blizzard. And if you think there’s a record number of competing metaphors in a single paragraph then you’ve clearly not read any of the previous 144 iterations of this column.
Think of this as our Christmas Opening Hours written in Comic Sans and blu-tac-ed onto the inside of the window of our Friday Speed Read shop. Fact check: we don’t have a shop. But if we did, we’d sell pickled analysis, sugared summary and some really, really good cheese.
Today (Friday 6th): The Friday Speed Read vol. 145
Friday 13th (yep, I know): The Second Ever Friday Speed Read Election Results Special
At some point wk. beg: 16th Dec: The Third (we think) Annual Speed Read Review of the Year
And then we’re laying down our pen until the new year to pay some proper attention to drinking decent wine and avoiding the Hovis in the Jacobs’s Biscuits for Cheese selection medley.
But before we descend into more wilful nonsense, we must spend a few moments reflecting on the events of last Friday on and around London Bridge and their aftermath. The news broke in the now-standard modern way via alerts on a smartphone – “Witness reports of a shooting on London Bridge. More to follow.” We’ve been here before and our stomachs know the routine: a bile-shot of worry, a moment of speculation, how bad is it going to be this time? Not that there’s a league table of atrocity, more that you hope that it won’t be as awful as you know it can be. By Monday, the two victims who had been stabbed to death by the attacker had been identified and their young, smiling faces were on the front pages. “The angels stolen by pure evil,” said the Sun; “Betrayed” said the Mirror and “Boris blitz on freed jihadis begins” said the Express.
The Guardian published a letter from the father of Jack Merritt, one of the two victims, asking politicians not to use his murder for political ends and /or furthering an agenda that he’d spent his short life fighting against. Even the attack hadn’t happened in the middle of an election campaign this request would have likely not been heeded but given it was less than two weeks until poling day, it was a stone-cold impossibility. The Tory line was as straightforward as the truth was nuanced: these two young people wouldn’t be dead had the attacker not been released early from prison by dint of a policy introduced by Labour in 2008. Is that fair? Probably not. Was it an easily-digestible and emotive message in the dog-days of an election campaign that few wanted? Certainly. And that’s why we’ve heard it all week.
Given that we’ve already mentioned it, shall we get this week’s Election Roundup over and done with? We realise that every week we say that we’ll be quick and then proceed to ramble on over three or four bumpy paragraphs but, hey, we’re doing our best. With a week to go, the Conservatives are still ahead in the polls; Labour is still being dogged by allegations of anti-Semitism and Jo Swinson’s Liberal Democrats are still pounding the streets hoping to remind people that they’re not just a half-remembered person you might have met in the small hours of Ben’s birthday bash sometime in 2007 but aren’t sure about because you’d had a lot of gin and this was before gin was fashionable again.
The Sun’s front page on Thursday was a lesson in putting every single of your eggs in one basket with its reporting of Johnson’s ten promises that he’ll deliver on during his first 100 days in office (should he get them). And what linguistic set are you going to draw upon when reporting on election promises? Why, the Bible of course! “PM’s sacred election promises” said the by-line, teeing up its big headline: “Boris: My 10 (a picture of the door of 10 Downing Street – geddit?) Commandments. All of which casts Boris Johnson as Moses. Or indeed casts Boris Johnson as God, summoning Moses (that’s us, the electorate) up Parliament Hill to give us stone tablets that we’ll never get home on the Tube.
Meanwhile on Friday, the Telegraph’s front page is uncharacteristically red as it dedicates a thick wedge of both its cover and inside pages to all the reasons why Jeremy Corbyn is indeed a) an anti-Semite and b) utterly unfit the run the country. Two things you’d imagine are not going to change any Telegraph readers minds about voting Labour simply because there are no Telegraph readers planning to vote Labour.
One week to go! Wooo!
Tell you what was funny this week. Marcon, Trudeau, Johnson and Princess Anne laughing about Trump at the Nato conference in Watford and then Trump taking umbrage, cancelling his press conference and storming home. To be fair, most people would be keen to hot-tail it out of Watford as quickly as possible but the fact that it’s Trump doing the hot-tailing is particularly amusing. Also, did you see the clip of Princess Anne refusing her mother’s very clear instruction to come and shake Trump’s hand during drinks at the Palace? It’s worth a watch. And yes, many have said since that Princess Anne wasn’t snubbing Trump but simply saying that there’s was no one else waiting to shake her mother’s hand but WE DON’T CARE. It’s 2019. Who cares what the truth is anymore? We will believe and laugh smugly at whatever we choose regardless of its veracity.
Other news happened! And here’s some of it: people are listening to record numbers of audiobooks because reading with eyes is too much hassle; over 1000 drunk skiers are injured EVERY DAY in high season; someone found a 121.3g lump of pure gold in the Scottish hills and is now £80,000 richer; a trailer for the new Bond film was released and was actually quite funny (Phoebe Waller-Bridge fingerprints?) and a British woman suffered a six hour (!) cardiac arrest in the Pyrenees but was saved, according to doctors, by the fact the long delay in her rescue had given her hyperthermia. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger indeed.
We dont have time to talk about the demise of the Apostrophe Society which after decade’s of fighting against erroneou’s and missing apostophe’s (Jims Greengrocer’s / Snack’s and Drink’s etc) has given up the fight and we are sad about it but here, in an utterly unrelated leap, is the ad made by a Welsh hardware store that everyone thinks is much better than John Lewis’s efforts despite costing only £100.
Click on the apostrophe below to watch.