Reading this column could cause serious injury

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The Independent Culture
That's quite enough hammering and banging from next door, thank you very much. I'll just gather a box of Price's Household Candles, 30 yards of non-stretch bondage rope, a six-cell MagLite and a catering- size jar of Bovril, then slip into the trusty tweeds (a fetching shade of dysentery green) and pop round to exact retribution. First, we'll find the sod in charge, then ...

Whoops. Forgot the warnings. Mustn't forget the warnings, oh dear me no. More than my job's worth, and never mind that humanity somehow managed to get by without warnings for thousands of years; this is 1996, so warnings it must be.

WARNING: Certain parts of this column may be unsuitable for children, the elderly and those of a nervous disposition. Terms used may cause offence, particularly to children, the elderly and those of a nervous disposition, who will be referred to as "cissies". If so offended, please return this column in the original wrapper, stating date and place of purchase. We will gladly refund your postage and come round and grind mud into your carpet.

NOTE: It has been brought to our attention that the previous sentiments could be construed as potentially violent. If you feel that your inner space has been violated, you are entitled under the Police (Nasty Occurrences) Act 1996 to pounds 250,000. Warning: investments may go down as well as up. Warning: you may lose your home if you don't watch your step.

Social, ethnic or religious minorities who feel they have been unfairly excluded from compensation under the above scheme are reminded that they have the right under the Inchoate Guilt (It Could Be You) Act 1996 to (a) pounds 250,000 and (b) complain to the Press Complaints Commission, which will then give the offending columnist such a bawling-out that he won't be able to look himself in the eye for a fortnight. In the event of the offending columnist subsequently suffering Post-Bawling-Out Stress, the Press Complaints Commission will be obliged to pay him pounds 250,000.

While it is understood that, under current legislation, every UK citizen is entitled to pounds 250,000 to compensate him for the unpleasantness of life (except for women, who are entitled to pounds 500,000, the extra being to compensate for the discriminatory and exclusionist use of the word "him" above), no consequential liability howsoever incurred will be accepted. If you choose to spend the money on a Ferrari and a bottle of Stolichnaya with subsequent injurious consequences to yourself, that is your problem.

This column agrees to pay pounds 250,000 each to Ferrari and Stolichnaya for frivolously and vexatiously using their name in the same sentence as the words "injurious consequences".

CAUTION: Parts of this newspaper may cause side-effects in certain persons who are liable to be affected by side-effects. Side-effects which may affect you include: (1) peering over your reading-glasses and saying "Tush tush" like a fool. (2) Broncho-oesophageal spasm. (3) Shouting "Nuts!" (4) Inability to make head or tail of the leading article. (5) Migraine, bigotry, constipation and sprue.

WARNING: If affected by bad temper, do NOT throw this newspaper across the room. It could cause injury to bystanders, and you know what that means, don't you? Yes: pounds 250,000.

CAUTION: Her Majesty's Government Health Officers have determined that risk of health damage is associated with passive reading, particularly in the case of explosive emission of toast-crumbs in the event of (2) above. IF AFFECTED, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TREAT THE INJURIES YOURSELF BUT SEEK URGENT FINANCIAL ADVICE.

WARNING: Due to the nature of the paper stock used for this product, injuries may result from mishandling. Although every care has been taken to remove all sharp edges or corners, we nevertheless advise the wearing of safety-glasses and rubber gloves when reading this newspaper.

APOLOGY: It has been drawn to our attention that we have been referring to this product as a "newspaper" or a "column". We now realise that this is inappropriate. This product is, of course, a "product" and we apologise to any readers who may have found our previous references offensive.

APOLOGY: We apologise for referring, in the preceding paragraph, to "readers". They are, of course, "customers".

WARNING: DO NOT SMOKE while using this product. The manufacturers offer no warranty, express or implied, as to its non-inflammable nature. Damages caused as a result of smoking are not covered by the Inchoate Guilt Act 1996. HMG has determined that anything horrible that happens to a smoker is his or her own fault and subject to a penalty of pounds 250,000. Action may also be taken under the Filthy Habit Act 1996 against any individual who (a) knowingly cohabits, consorts or passes the time of day with any smoker or (b) can name five brands of pipe tobacco.

CAUTION: Use of this product while under the influence of alcoholic beverages can lead to incomprehension, bigotry and reinforcement of pre-existing prejudices.

WARNING: This product may cause drowsiness. If affected, do not drive or operate machinery. Remember: "No" means "no". Please note that your right to legal representation has now become an obligation. We care about your safety; please stand behind the yellow line. Do not exceed the stated dose. Your mileage may vary. If you do NOT want to receive offers from other reputable companies, please tick box on page 476. Opening the seal indicates acceptance of the terms of contract within. Do not connect to mains. We welcome applications irrespective of race, age, physical condition, religious beliefs, qualifications, ability or anything else. We are so eager to please it is incredible. Your satisfaction is our reward. The management accept no responsibility.

Phew. Now: as I was saying, first we'll find the ... oh dear. Out of space. !

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