Comment: Foxed again! That bug - and the other one

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The Independent Culture
ARE YOU game to pit your knowledge of current affairs against our panel of experts once again? Good! All you have to do is read the following six stories, which relate to the news of the last few days. Then, bearing in mind that one of the stories is untrue, use your skill and judgement to select the odd one out. All right? Here we go then!

1. There are two adjacent towns in Pennsylvania, US, that used to be heavily industrialised but have both fallen prey to the rust belt syndrome. One of them, Elmerton, has cleaned up its act and converted itself to a modestly successful computer-manufacturing centre. The other, Scraggsville, has shown no such instinct and is still belching smoke. The prevailing wind brings most of the pollution straight from Scraggsville to Elmerton, which has therefore decided to sue its neighbour for huge damages. It is believed to be the first time that one town has invoked passive smoking legislation against another.

2. The Government is planning to legislate to make the possession of bread knives illegal. They have discovered that more than 100 people every year are killed or injured by bread knives, either accidentally or in domestic brawls. "We are not prepared to allow even such a small risk to operate," says Jack Cunningham, who after his beef-on-the-bone experience has been appointed the man in charge of preparing unpopular and senseless laws. "If the bill gets through, bread knives will be outlawed and all bread will be pre-sliced."

3. MI5 are furious at being accused of planting an old-fashioned, easily spotted listening-device in Gerry Adams's car, especially as they know the truth of the matter but cannot admit that they know it. The truth of the matter is that MI5 did not plant it at all - it was planted by Gerry Adams himself in order to incriminate MI5. They know this, because they heard Gerry Adams plotting it via a small microphone, planted by MI5 in Gerry Adams's car, that Sinn Fein hasn't spotted yet.

4. Sheffield Wednesday FC is having trouble with foxes. Apparently the foxes invade the stands while the ground is empty and scavenge for unfinished pies left by spectators. The foxes do not in fact eat the pies there and then, but bury them in small holes that they make in the pitch for the purpose. It is these foxholes in the playing surface which are upsetting the club, as well as, presumably, any player taking a dive and finding his nose in the middle of an old pork pie.

5. The idea was mooted by the comedy writer Andy Hamilton a few months ago, in jest, but New Labour are now taking it seriously. Andy Hamilton said then that New Labour were refusing to enter the next millennium unless conditions were right for entry. Tony Blair would prefer to let the rest of Europe go into the next millennium first and see how it worked out, before committing Britain to it. Well, New Labour are so alarmed by the low turn-out for millennium events at Greenwich and elsewhere, and with the emerging desire of the British to stay at home on Millennium Eve, that they have contingency plans to change the date of the start of the millennium from the end of 1999 to the end of 2000 (which a lot of people have said is the real date all along) and use the extra year to get things really ready and sell a lot more tickets.

6. Many firms that have insured themselves against the millennium bug may not get compensation if things go wrong. This is because New Age Risk, the insurance company that has come into being simply to insure people against the millennium bug, has taken no precautions against being affected by the bug itself, and is programmed to self-destruct on 31 December. This means that people with claims arising from the bug will find themselves dealing with a firm that took millions of pounds' worth of premiums, and had vanished by 1 January.

Well? Did you spot that No 1 was untrue? As indeed were all the others? Except, in fact, for No 4, which must be true because it was reported in `The Daily Telegraph'. Well done, everyone!