A sorry apology for the news

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The Independent Online

As regular readers will know, I like to take the chance about once a month to test you on your knowledge of the news. This is a job which we can easily do between us. All I do is bring you four or five news stories from the recent past. One of them has been manufactured by me and is totally untrue. What you have to do, using your knowledge of world affairs, is spot the false story.

As regular readers will know, I like to take the chance about once a month to test you on your knowledge of the news. This is a job which we can easily do between us. All I do is bring you four or five news stories from the recent past. One of them has been manufactured by me and is totally untrue. What you have to do, using your knowledge of world affairs, is spot the false story.

That's all!

OK?

Here we go then!

1. It is now being more and more accepted in diplomatic circles that the reason for the recent inactivity of Osama bin Laden is that he was captured several months ago, and is being secretly held on the orders of President Bush.

The plan, apparently, is to bring him out into public with a flourish the week before the presidential election. "We said we would wage war on terrorism," Bush will proudly proclaim, "and to prove it, here is the king of the terrorists!"

However, advisers close to the White House are troubled by the plan, as they are not totally convinced that the man they have captured is, in fact, Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden has tricked the Americans before, and is capable of doing it again. It is not impossible that al-Qa'ida has arranged for a fake Osama to be captured. What could be more damaging to Bush's hopes of re-election than to be hoodwinked in the very week of the election?

2. Bollywood films are so called, as everyone knows, because the name is a mixture of "Bombay" and "Hollywood". However, this no longer quite works because Bombay has had its name changed to Mumbai. Therefore the Indian film industry has decreed that from next year onwards their films should be called "Mollywood".

The change will take place on 1 January.

3. A new weekly newspaper is being started called Sorry News, which will feature stories involving acts of remorse, regret and repentance. Their lead story in the first issue is the visit of Boris Johnson to Liverpool, and they ask in no uncertain terms why Boris is capable of saying sorry, whereas Liverpool never seems to say sorry for anything, from their involvement in slavery to the various football disasters their fans have been involved in. They pursue Blair's inability to say sorry, of course, but are also quite interested in whether President Bush has ever said sorry about anything. They are sorry, but they cannot find any examples of it. The slogan of Sorry News is "An apology for a newspaper".

4. The makers of Meccano are being targeted by Islamic fundamentalists.

Apparently, they find their name blasphemous.

The name of Meccano, after all, is made up of two words: "Mecca" and "No".

They see this as a total and unequivocal rejection of Islam. They have therefore issue an ultimatum. Either the makers change the name to something quite different, or they will be the subjects of reprisals.

Already the Islamic protesters have fired a warning shot, to show that they mean business.

In the Meccano display of Hamley's toy shop in Regent Street there was, till recently, a skyscraper made entirely of Meccano, about 10 feet high. It was destroyed last week by a model plane flown into it, controlled by unknown hands. This echo of 9/11 has made the Meccano people take very seriously what they thought until that moment was a possible hoax.

Well?

Did you spot that the story about Meccano was a complete tissue of lies?

Well done!

Oh, and were you convinced that all the other stories were hogwash as well?

Go to the top of the class!

But keep reading the papers.

There'll be another test coming soon.

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