Football hooligans stole my Tuscan church!

'One book about tulips is about all people can take. Several books about tulips is too much tulip'
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The Independent Online

How closely have you been following the news recently? Think you could do well in a current-events quiz? Well, now is your chance to find out! Because today we have for you a simple test to see if you really have been keeping pace with world news as it unfolds. All you have to do is read the following six news stories. Well, not quite all, because one of the stories is untrue. You now have to decide which one it is.

How closely have you been following the news recently? Think you could do well in a current-events quiz? Well, now is your chance to find out! Because today we have for you a simple test to see if you really have been keeping pace with world news as it unfolds. All you have to do is read the following six news stories. Well, not quite all, because one of the stories is untrue. You now have to decide which one it is.

Ready? Here we go.

1. A new literary centre has been set up to help authors to avoid writing books about the same subjects as other authors. The centre, called Subject Matters, will keep track of all work in progress so that would-be writers can check if their choice of topic is already being covered. "Recently, for example," says Subject Matters' director, Sue Armstead, "we've had a glut of books about tulips. Frankly, one book about tulips is about as much as people can take. Several books about tulips is too much tulip. And it is becoming increasingly common for people to devote a whole book to one thing, such as the cod or the potato. Can you imagine doing two years on the herring and then finding that someone else was doing it, as well, the whole time? Now, that will never happen again, because people can come to us and see what the opposition is up to."

2. Sir John Birt has been hired by the Prime Minister to head a team to look into the causes of teenage behaviour when it oversteps the bounds of acceptability and involves people getting dead drunk and collapsing in places such as Leicester Square. Blair wants to know why such youngsters can't be happy staying at home and watching perfectly good TV programmes put out on BBC 1 and BBC 2, and if there aren't any good programmes on BBC, he wants Birt to find out why.

3. It has just emerged from leaked documents that England's World Cup bid was unsuccessful because it was designed to be unsuccessful. The last thing that Tony Blair ever wanted was the risk of international shame after seeing the World Cup ruined in England by British hooligans, so he deliberately chose people who had no idea how to run a modern marketing bid - the hopelessly mild-mannered Bobby Charlton, the outrageous Tony Banks and so on - to make sure that the World Cup did not come here AD2006. Privately, he is delighted the bid failed.

4. Italian art thefts have recently taken a wild turn for the worse. It had become distressingly common for old and often valuable pictures to "disappear" from Italian churches, but now for the first time a whole Italian church has vanished. The villagers of San Pietino in Tuscany woke up on Tuesday to find a bare patch of earth where their church used to be. Although it contained no great works of art, it was itself a jewel of medieval architecture and much prized by Italian art historians. Such a church could never be sold on the open market, and experts believe that some wealthy collector - presumably with a large estate - has caused it to be removed for his private delectation. The priest, Father Elio Patelli, has vanished with the church; it is not known if he was part of the plot or an innocent victim.

5. There are now so many fashionable prizes in the world of art and culture - the Turner, the Booker, the Oscars, the Baftas, the Whitbread, the Brits etc, etc - that people may be in danger of prize glut. So next year, to maintain interest, there will also be a Prize of Prizes to decide which of all the year's prizewinners is the best. Critics say that it would be impossible to compare, say, a prizewinning novel with a prizewinning painting, let alone a hit single, but the organisers say that as long as it gets on TV, they don't care what the critics say.

6. A nationalist living in Belfast was beaten up by Catholic activists for the crime of having a mobile phone. "It wasn't having the phone that was the crime," said an anonymous spokesman. "It was the fact that he had chosen an Orange phone that we couldn't forgive."

Well? That's right! Story number one was untrue. So, indeed, were all the others. That's journalism for you.

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