Is it news or nonsense? You, the public, can now decide

A group of children in a village in Portugal claim to have seen Monica Lewinsky in a vision
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The Independent Culture
HOW CLOSELY do you follow the news? Did you know, for instance, that News at Ten is no longer called that, but is now News at Some Other Time? And that it has been replaced by a new programme called Some Dreary Old Movie With Lots of Advertising Revenue Capability? Did you know that the BBC has a 24-hour news service called Yes, Sir John, No, Sir John, Three Bags Full, Sir John? Did you know that when Lord Denning died, more than 75 per cent of people had no idea he had still been alive ?

If so, you are well prepared to enter our great news quiz, the first of 1999. All you have to do is study the following news stories (of which one is true) and decide, using skill, memory, luck and sense of smell, which one is the true one.

1. Keith Waterhouse has a new play on the road called Bing Bong. As you might expect from the title, it is all about the demise of News at Ten and the surprise appointment of Trevor McDonald as the new Poet Laureate. Criticism of the move, on the grounds that Trevor McDonald has never written a poem in his life, are countered by revelations that, from now on, the Poet Laureate will not be required to write any poetry as such, only wander aimlessly from bar to bar in Soho, reminiscing about Jeffrey Bernard and the good old days.

2. A group of children in a small village in Portugal claim to have seen Monica Lewinsky in a vision. She appeared to them for three minutes, and told them that they should be good boys and girls, and never go to the big city, and that if they did, they should never be in the same room alone with an important personage, and that if they were unable to avoid it, they should at least have a tape recorder running. She then sold them a copy of the Andrew Morton book, and vanished.

3. The reason that nothing much has been heard on the General Pinochet front for a little while now, is that General Pinochet died in his rented house in England two weeks ago, and the whole thing has been kept extremely hush-hush. The British Government has not been quite sure what they should do about this new situation, knowing that the news that the late dictator died while in British hands will cause grave uproar in Chile. They have now decided to have the late General's body extradited to Spain, where he may well have to go on trial posthumously.

4. The Flaming Ferraris were the high-flying group of City operators, including Jeffrey Archer's son James, who were fired for breaking City regulations.

The name "Flaming Ferraris" came from the name of their favourite cocktail. Archer Junior is now following his father's advice to bounce back from disaster with a best-seller, by writing a new cocktail recipe book which includes such concoctions as "Lord Mayor's Folly", "Like Father, Like Son", "Victoria Station Virgin", "Spotty Back", "Grantchester Gamble", and "Flaming Plagiarism".

5. After the Millennium Dome has been in use for a year as a Millennium Dome, it will be sold to McDonald's Hamburgers and used as the biggest burger outlet and take-away place in Europe. They reckon the smell of frying will be noticeable as far away as Maidstone, and the trail of litter could reach as far as Dover.

6. Bath Football Club, home of Bath's famous rugby football team, wants to build a new stand on their ground next to the river Avon. However, the terms under which they have the land forbid them to build any more permanent structures. They intend to get round this by building a new stand with a flat roof that will retract into the ground when not in use, and as the flat roof will have turf on it, the top of the stand will then merge into the surrounding playing field. How they will stop the Avon and the water table filling the stand with water when underground has not been explained. Local wags claim that the new stand will be used to house visiting opposition fans, who can then be lowered out of sight as and when necessary.

ANSWER: I am afraid the quiz was not very hard this week as, clearly, the only true one was the one about Madeleine Albright, Robin Cook, the seven dwarfs and the big inflatable banana. No, as you were - the lawyers decided I couldn't use that one.

So it must have been the one about Bath Football Club. A pity, as I really wanted to use the two stories I also came across, headlined "Driver Killed By Flying Cow", and "Player Murdered By Referee", which were both absolutely genuine, but which I feared you might not believe.

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