Comment: Warning: today's column contains utterly tasteless items

The most joyful recent story about McDonald's catering outlets came from Hong Kong...

YESTERDAY I put forward the theory that a humorous writer would be ill-advised to try to squeeze humour out of an already humorous news item. He would be better advised simply to reprint the item and not try to improve on it.

As evidence of this, I now bring you the whole of an item about the great Evel Knievel, the man who soared across space on motor bicycles. This is an item which I found on the back page of the International Herald Tribune on Friday last week.

"In the world of Evel Knievel, this motorcycle mishap was nothing much. The 60-year-old daredevil suffered a minor scrape in Clearwater, Florida, when his parked bike toppled over, pinioning him beneath it. He was sitting on it with the kickstand down. Neighbours heard him yell for help, freed him and summoned paramedics."

That's it. Evel Knievel fell off his bike and couldn't get up without medical help. That's all you need. How can you improve on it?

Nor does one need to say anything about the postman in my home town, Wrexham, who was trapped in the post box. Unlike the Knievel story, this was widely reported, but in case you were on Clapham Common at the time and missed it, a Welsh postman got trapped inside a very large postbox when the door blew shut. The first anyone knew about it was when an old age pensioner went to post a letter and a hand came out of the slot to take it...

I have to say that I find that story a bit smelly. But why spoil a good story? After all, I have never doubted the story about J B Morton, the man who was Beachcomber, "finding" a little boy in a post box.

You know the story? Some time in the 1930s Morton is supposed to have started talking into the slot of a large post box, as if a small boy was trapped in there.

"How did you get in? What's your name? How old are you? Have you hurt yourself?" And so on.

A crowd gathered.

"What's wrong?"

"Boy stuck in letter box."

"Good Lord, how did he get in?"

"Just finding out..."

And while this crowd was forming, Morton slipped away, leaving them all to organise the release of a now silent, probably unconscious little boy.

Great story. True story? Hmm... Sounds dodgy to me. Yet stories which are really true also sound dodgy. Like the one about Torquay United last Saturday. It was reported in the Telegraph, and no doubt elsewhere, that the players in the Torquay United Football League team had been told not to practise shooting at goal when they came out to warm up before a match. Reason? Too many of their shots were missing the goal and flying into the crowd, and insurance was insufficient to cover a bad injury to a spectator. If Evelyn Waugh had put that into a novel, you wouldn't believe him...

But my favourite recent news item concerns McDonald's hamburgers. I love collecting items which show McDonald's in a bad light, because I think they serve very boring mass-produced fodder and because they take themselves and their hideous red and yellow so-called restaurants so very seriously.

I have here a cutting from this paper from last summer headed "McDonald's World Cup win has French seething", detailing the fury of French restaurateurs over the choice of McDonald's as "the official restaurant of the World Cup", which would be like nominating Miller Lite as the official beer of the World Cup in England.

It was the big money offer of the burger bar which made the difference, it seemed. "We knew money had no smell," said the furious chefs. "Now we know it has no taste either."

The most recent joyful story about McDonald's catering outlets (better name than "restaurant", surely) came from Hong Kong, where , we are told, the populace had fallen in love with the Snoopy figures being given away with Big Macs.

The citizens were queuing up to buy burgers to get their Snoopy figures, going outside and throwing their hamburgers in the litter bins untouched before going home to enjoy their Snoopies. Bins were overflowing with uneaten hamburgers outside every Big Mac dispensary, it seems...

Actually, that is one item you might improve on. You could visualise the painful meeting at which the man responsible for the Snoopy idea which had so powerfully backfired tried to defend himself to the bigwigs at McDonald's...

A reader writes: I would stop there if I were you. McDonald's lawyers are very quick on the draw.

Miles Kington writes: Yes. Perhaps you're right.

Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick