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Best in Show
Every Friday the Speed Read tramps down the muddy path in its garden towards and then goes into its special “news shed” in which it eats biscuits, dreams of better days and writes this column for those people who choose to read it.
Right then, can we please talk about snogging? I realise that there are other pressing matters to which to attend (more of which anon) but frankly, there’s been too many MPs using the S-word this week and my stomach is beginning to turn. As if drinking a glass of Bailey’s that’s been sitting on one of the desks in the office in the two days since the staff Christmas party.
I’m in my 40s but I’m no prude. Generally speaking, I’m in favour of kissing. I mean context and consent are everything but who doesn’t like a nice smooch with a loved one once the washing has finally been folded or the black bin put out because it’s Sunday evening? There’s no greater totem of enduring love than the phrase, “actually I can still taste the risotto from earlier, do you think you could clean your teeth please?”. Sex-Y.
I don’t even have a problem with the memory of kissing; those hormone-fuelled days of skulking in the darkened corners of teenage discos, the air thick with horn and Lynx, as you watched your friend Not-So-Gentle Ben (very niche reference) and Hayley from the year above set about each other’s faces like a drunken lesson on mouth2mouth resuscitation delivered by a pair of amphibious creatures only occasionally coming up for air. (That was a long sentence but I think it was worth it).
And the time when finally, FINALLY, it was your turn and to a soundtrack of Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine you pressed lips with that girl Lucy who Tim said liked Paul but you’d always thought that maybe liked you and hell, even if she did like Paul more then you had no problem with being Paul’s understudy in the great drama of fleeting teenage attraction. And it was a good kiss. It was weird but it was good and even now, I remember Lucy’s tender words as we moved our heads slightly apart and she looked deeply into my wonder-struck eyes: “Have you got a polo or something? I can taste risotto”.
And to think this was once a weekly round-up of the biggest news stories.
All of which is prologue to the fact that I don’t want Sajid Javid telling me to “snog” who I want under the mistletoe at the staff Christmas party. Nor do I want Therese Coffey telling me to not “snog” anyone under the mistletoe at the staff Christmas Party. There will be no mistletoe, there will be no kissing (not by me at least) but even if there were either the repeated and contradictory advice given by the Government this week on our behaviour has been made considerably more grating by the deployment of the word “snogging”. Yuck.
(So that’s nearly 500 words inspired by the simple fact that you don’t like the word “snogging”? Yep, you betcha. You try high-level analysis at 7.35am on the first Friday in December).
The context for all this kissy-chat is of course more sobering than thinking about Sajid Javid while locking lips with your festive squeeze. A new variant. Omicron. A week ago the name didn’t exist but we were beginning to read accounts of scientists being “horrified” at the mutated protein spikes on this iteration of the old Covid bastard; then the now-familiar pattern of a handful of cases in distant lands followed the inevitable reports that it had reached the UK a day or so later. That thick-stomached feeling of dread at the thought that just as things were finally, seemingly getting better and that this year’s Christmas was going to so much more enjoyable last year’s miserable fare, then all the hope and excitement was to be extinguished once again; euk, it’s just too hard sometimes. All of us have shouted out to the skies at some point, literally, metaphorically, probably both, “when will this ever end?” But really, when will this ever end? That Tesco advert is trolling us: “this year, nothing is stopping us . . . . . “ Feels like something might be. Sorry Tesco. Sorry everyone.
That was a few days ago. In the intervening period we’ve had a festive parade of contradictory advice:
SCIENCE –“Be really careful. Mix as little as possible. We don’t know enough about Omicron yet and it genuinely could be much more resistant to vaccines”
BORIS – “Party on kids . . . . it’s CHRIIIIISSSSSTMAASSSSSS”
JAVID – “SNOG EVERYONE. ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE”
SCIENCE AGAIN – “WTF”
As the week end there’s, very tentatively, better news. A study has shown that a booster job massively tops up your protection against Covid-19 including, potentially, variants including Omicron. There’s also scattered reports that no confirmed Omicron cases have led to hospitalisations suggesting, perhaps, that this variant is less potent than its cousins. But this could be wrong. It’s too early. We don’t yet know enough. We have to wait. We have to take advantage of the accelerated roll-out of the booster programme announced this week. We have to hope.
The other windows on the news advent calendar this week have revealed scant chocolate treats but instead scenes of murder, despair and the very real possibility of the loss of reproductive rights for all women in America. Welcome to Gilead. And without denying the importance, impact and need to engage with the things that scare and upset us I am going to plead another year of Covid-bashing for leave to skip ahead to the end of this week’s column where I am going to write about The Beatles.
No one likes a Beatles-bore but the release of Peter Jackson’s VERY LONG documentary “Get Back” about the month the group assembled to try and write a new album before then playing it live is a thing of absolute wonder. When I say, VERY LONG it’s like 8 hours or something of which I’ve only yet watched two because, you know, I have stuff to do. This is the director, remember, who managed to turn a slim novel into THREE, THREE-HOUR FILMS so he’s not one for pith or brevity but the experience of spending long hours in the company of four friends (and you can really, really see the friendship in the film) who just happen to be the biggest band of all time is just thrilling.
It’s like the world’s longest brainstorm but instead of arriving at the idea of an experiential pop-up event in Covent Garden with influencers dressed as soft fruit, these guys come up with Get Back. The clip below has been widely shared this week and if you’ve not seen it then PLEASE watch; it’s the moment where Paul McCartney literally wrangles Get Back into existence from nothing, as George Harrison sits opposite yawning. It’s awesome. Inspiring. And it makes me happy. It’s probably almost as good as kissing.