How a GM pensioner won the triathlon

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The Independent Online

I think that readers of this newspaper would pay more attention to what they were reading if they thought they were going to face an exam on their knowledge - and that is exactly what you're going to get today!

I think that readers of this newspaper would pay more attention to what they were reading if they thought they were going to face an exam on their knowledge - and that is exactly what you're going to get today!

As regular readers will know, from time to time I like to test you on your attention span by bringing you a bunch of stories from the recent news and asking you to spot the odd one out.

The time has come again. Here are four stories from the last week or so. One of them is completely untrue and made up. Can you pick it out? Here we go!

1. A scandal has broken out in the world of publishing because several famous writers have agreed to endorse a book which has not yet been written.

"The idea came to us last Christmas," says Len Trillion, marketing manager of the powerful InterFocus publishing group. "We had got several famous woman writers to provide quotes for the back of a new chicklit book, saying the usual thing about how witty and gripping and fresh it was, and I was talking to one of these women, and she confessed she hadn't even read the book - she had just provided the quote. Out of curiosity I consulted all the others, and none of them had read the book! One of them hadn't even written the quote - she'd given us carte blanche to make something up.

"So then I dreamt up the ultimate step further - to get a bunch of famous writers to provide a bunch of glowing quotes for a book and then get the book written later! It's being written as I speak. I just hope it lives up to the praise already heaped on it."

2. A new version of the triathlon is being tried out for the over-seventies. The regular triathlon is a succession of three hard races: running, cycling and swimming. This is beyond most older people - indeed it might well kill some of them - so a group of pensioners' clubs in the south of England have dreamt up a new senior triathlon: bridge, tennis and bowls.

"We kick off with the tennis," says the game's organiser, "because that's the real killer. Many of our members can't raise more than a gentle trot so the rallies don't last long. We don't play a certain amount of sets or games - we decide the winner by saying that the loser is the first one who has to go to the loo.

"The bridge is altogether more relaxed. In fact, many of our members enjoy it so much they forget about the bowls and just go on playing bridge. Biathlon, triathlon - who cares at that age?"

3. Research shows that there may be a human gene which predisposes some people to be innovative and, if reversed, to cause other people to be cautious.

"If true, this would have a tremendous effect on the whole GM debate," says scientist Professor Jed Whitlock. "It would mean that some people are genetically disposed to be in favour of GM food, and some against it. Any scientist who works in the GM area is almost certain to be genetically disposed in favour of GM foods, otherwise he wouldn't have chosen that field. All the opposition comes from people with the opposite genetic make-up. The scary thing is that we now know we can genetically modify people to be in favour of genetic modification. So where does that take us next?"

4. Sir Alex Ferguson is possibly about to get into even deeper financial waters than he did after trying to sue JP Magnier for a share of his horse's stud fees.

Alex Ferguson's son Jason Ferguson is a football agent who is involved in in many transfer deals involving top footballers, and it has occurred to Sir Alex that as he himself sired his son Jason, he may be able to claim stud fees arising from Jason's financial dealings.

Experts say that this is a new interpretation of the meaning of stud fees, and they cannot see it holding up legally, though one should never underestimate Ferguson's legendary fighting spirit.

Well? Did you spot that the item about Sir Alex Ferguson was a load of codswallop? Well done!

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