Speed Read - Harry, Meghan and the lowest of stakes

The air has freshened; the mornings now are tipped with cold; there are shivers in the creases of the day and night-time is best spent beneath blankets. In other, less preposterous words, after a disquieting few weeks in which temperatures were abnormally high for the time of year, something like normality has returned, at least to weather. I mention this not only for something to meaningful say at the start of this week’s column, but also because this meteorological revert has occurred in pleasing synchronicity with the arrival of Advent. Which should be a chilly time of year.

So, what’s behind today’s advent window? Why, it’s a sub-quality piece of chocolate in the shape of something that’s just come out of my nose along with a picture of the Waleses (previously the Cambridges) AT WAR with the Sussexes. Oh those festive feels?

Let’s get this out of the way early because, one, talk of “war” amongst the royals when there’s an ACTUAL war going on in Europe is a little whiffy and two, the whole thing makes me feel a little bilious. This morning’s (Friday) papers are splashed in headlines about Netflix’s release of the trailer for its upcoming “Harry and Meghan” documentary, which is about birdwatching in South and East Devon . . . IF ONLY.

No, of course it’s about everyone’s (someone? anyone?) favourite celebrity couple. The trailer, by dint of a marketing decision that must have been signed off by the eponymous couple, has been released to coincide with the Prince and Princess of Wales’ visit to the US.

“Harry . . . .” pleads the front page of the Daily Express, tears streaking its cheeks, “Do you really hate your family so much?”. Well, yes it would seem. Anyway, I’ve watched the trailer so you don’t have to. It opens with an interviewer asking sombrely:

“Why did you want to make this documentary?”

To which Harry replies.

“Well, a hundred million dollars certainly helped push us over the line, decision-wise . . .”

Okay, he doesn’t say that. But he may as well have. There follows a montage of black and white photos thrown together by someone on iMovie, including one of Will and Kate looking EVIL; it ends with Harry saying he must do everything to protect his family (coincidentally, number one on my list of ways to protect my family is also ‘make a documentary” and then it ends with Meghan asking that “When the stakes are this high, doesn’t it make more sense to hear our story from us?”

Listen, I’ve always quite liked Meghan. I do think she’s been treated shoddily over the years by the right-wing press in the UK but come on, this is an absolute torrent of high-octane drivel. And what’s more, it’s offensive to just about everyone on the planet.  “When the stakes are this high . . . . . . .” Mate, the stakes could NOT BE LOWER. You’ve signed a multi-million-dollar deal to peddle this nonsense, meanwhile there are people not two hundred yards from where I am sitting right now to whom me and the neighbours are donating tinned food and toothpaste because they can’t afford to both heat their homes and eat. Plus, you know, war. Plus, climate crisis. Plus, Matt Chuffing Hancock somehow being redeemed because he looks alright in a sweaty t-shirt . . . . I AM SO CROSS ABOUT THIS.

Anyway, this has happened. And all in all, it’s been a bad week for the British Monarchy following the resignation of one the late Queen’s ladies-in-waiting for basically being a racist. “Prince William’s godmother quits in race row” is not the kind of headline the new King would have wanted. And that was a full twenty-four hours before this morning’s clamour.

Thank goodness then for football in a single-party, semi-oppressive state. But actually, thank goodness for Marcus Rashford MBE. Karma is such a fickle beast, that when it actually gets its act together it all feels rather wonderful. Rashford’s two goals and general performance during England’s three-nil vanquishing of the Welsh on Tuesday (nod to the Sun’s “Do or Dai” headline on the morning of the match) clearly has nothing to do with his exemplary, impactful standing-up to the government during the depths of the pandemic but it certainly feels RIGHT. And even more so after his drop in form last season during which people with small brains implored him to “concentrate on football”.

Headline highlights:

“Bish, Rash, Bosh” (The Sun)

“Rash, bang, wallop” (The Mirror)

Gosh, 750 words already. Let’s have a gallop around some of the other notable stories of the week upon our horse called “News”. The first headlines generated by the 2021 census emerged this week, with one statistic feeling particularly notable – that Christianity is now a minority faith in the UK. Or as the “i” put it in its Wednesday headline: “UK Christians in minority for the first time since the Dark Ages”. We’ve not got time to discuss the hotch-potch of faiths that existed during the dogdays of Roman Britain and beyond (sadly) but safe to say the headline writer for this particular newspaper was happy to flex his or her history degree and I for one, was appreciative.

Elsewhere, some potential good news as scientist have announced some success trialling a new drug to treat the cruel and heart-breaking disease that is Alzheimer’s; it’s not a cure and at things stand, the best it can do is slow a patient’s mental decline but it’s a whole lot better than nothing and bodes well for more progress in the future.

Fans of Christmas feasting will be troubled by this week’s news that bird flu has meant that half the population of free-range turkeys have had to be destroyed meaning consumer’s face a serious struggle to get birds on the table on the 25th. Coupled with a 25% hike in the average price of chipolatas, it could well be a Christmas dinner to forget. But all is not lost, it was revealed this week that after years in the nutritional doghouse, potatoes have been declared as HEALTHY AFTER ALL and can help you lose weight. The small print on this is essentially that you should use potatoes as a substitute for meat and not douse them in goose fat and salt before scoffing a mountain of the little golden beauties but WE SHALL NOT BE TROUBLED BY SMALL PRINT. Happy Potato Friday!

Songwriter and keyboard player from Fleetwood Mac Christine McVie died this week. She was a genius of melody and the kind of hooks that implant themselves in your brain and then stay there. Too many great songs to play here but this one seems apt for our challenging present.