Image description: How to decribe this… Questionable Photoshopping of Vladimir Putin and the Queen over a background of strawberries, with ‘Freddy’s Friday Roundup’ written on top
It is not easy to write satire when the state of current affairs might seem distinctly unfunny. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, NATO, clearly making an effort to keep everyone calm and unruffled, claimed we now have ‘war in Europe on a scale we thought belonged to history’. Sounds promising!
However, it is when the world rears its dour and ugly face and things seem dire that the satirist comes into his own, mixes up a new cocktail of verbal fireworks, and pokes fun at ‘The Man’. Now ‘The Man’ could refer more abstractly to any system of top-down authority or it might refer specifically to the man of today, a squat and jowly dictator, a Soviet renegade more akin to a lumpy, blotchy dog than a respectable leader.
Yet, of course, the satirist ne’er opts for such vitriolic ad hominem attacks but functions only within the Horatian tradition of benign jeering:
While chaos rages abroad, we can always find humour in the national news. Our favourite target the Prime Minister, that gaffe-prone talisman of jest and jocularity, has been seemingly cleansed of his sins- the lockdown parties, the absurd Jimmy Savile smear on his opposite, the official police cautioning as reported by The Times– as a sudden and unexpected harmony unites the House of Commons against no less than this foreign threat to democracy.
As predicted, the Prime Minister’s shady relationship with the truth has gone unpunished and there’s no doubt that his party’s popularity will surge in the polls as he can now fully unfurl his long-practiced and long-subdued Churchillian act. In fact the threat of war is the ultimate distraction, the biggest fish you can fry, a godsend for a Prime Minister mired in more than petty controversies and well suited to the air-punching, bellicose rhetoric he once used to muscle through the party hierarchy and propel himself to power.
But is it a godsend? Though the Tories won approval from the house for their firm initial defiance of Putin, their cooperation with European nations, and their programme of harsh economic sanctions, are such actions firm enough? The BBC reports ‘The UK is targeting five major Russian banks and three billionaires.’ Three billionaires! Wow! They can strike those three off the list of future party donors.
Johnson’s ‘punitive’ measures will really hit Putin and pals in the johnson and cleanse the London ‘laundromat’ of ‘dirty Russian money’. While the Kremlin fire off missiles, the PM fires off lies, spouting during PMQs that Roman Abramovich is ‘already facing sanctions’. O readers, what is the truth? Does it even matter? Is the ship of state destined to sink in a malicious maelstrom of mendacity and mockery?!
Maybe I’m being a bit melodramatic, so let’s keep things fluffy and talk about the Royals to whom the Russo-Ukrainian media spotlight will also be proving advantageous. Prince Andrew is reportedly sat at home, cowering like a moist slug under his sweaty bed sheets, as clammy as he was in that Emily Maitlis Newsnight interview, fantasising about all the law courts being nuked in WWIII so he doesn’t have to face trial.
The Queen continues isolating after testing positive for Covid. A statement from Buckingham Palace said the 95-year-old monarch ‘will continue with light duties’, including the monumental task of planning how to vindicate her press-hounded children and grandchildren, as well as the devegetablisation of William, on whose shoulders the future integrity of the Royal Family will rest, to make him seem more cool and charming like Harry.
The BBC said Buckingham Palace has a convention of keeping the Queen’s health a ‘private matter and gives only limited details’. They don’t want to reveal the details of all the quarantine banana bread baking gone wrong, her dodgy crocheting, or her new TikTok account ‘SlayQween95’. Royal officials were reluctant to inform the Queen that these pursuits are just so 2020.
In other news, fruit lovers across the world were stunned at the discovery of a giant strawberry, shattering previous world records for the largest ever strawberry, which was found in Japan. The 289g whopper had been farmed by Israeli Chahi Ariel before being stored in ice for an entire year, and appears to be almost as frozen as Putin’s assets.
Til’ next week.