Miles Kington: How to make a meal of a packet of crisps

In the three-course dinner bag you get prawn cocktail crisps at the top, then salmon or venison, and to finish up, apple or mango
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The Independent Online

All you have to do is read them, evaluate them and see if you can pick the genuine one from the fakes. Ready? Here we go!

1. Police in the German town of Mainzdorf were puzzled by an outbreak of vanishing post-boxes. The post-boxes, some small, some man-sized, have all been taken off the wall or prised out of the pavement. So the police set a trap. They erected a complete false post box with an observer inside, and placed it at the point where they thought the next post-box would be taken from. They were right. The fake police box, together with the genuine policeman inside, was removed overnight and neither of them has been seen again since the incident, 10 days ago.

2. Just when we thought nobody would ever come up with a new flavour for potato crisps, Mr Jason Toobody of Leicester has taken the game to a whole new level. He and his company, Gastrocrisps, have produced a three-course dinner flavoured set of crisps!

"Obviously you don't get all three flavours in one crisp," says Jason. "That would be disgusting. But in the three-course dinner bag you get starter-flavoured crisps at the top, maybe prawn cocktail or gazpacho, then halfway down you get salmon or venison flavoured crisps, and to finish off, apple or mango crisps."

The idea is that to achieve a complete meal sensation, you eat right through one packet. Mr Toobody reckons that there are fewer calories in these packets of crisps than in a genuine three-course dinner, so he could actually sell it as a slimming device.

3. A criminal gang in South Africa thinks it may well have incurred the wrath of the Sicilian Mafia. For a joke, the Xhosa-speaking gang named itself "Xhosa Nostra", after the name given to itself by the Mafia, "Cosa Nostra". But recently two or three gang members have been found murdered in ways which only the Mafia tend to favour, and they now think that they have become embroiled in a vendetta against Sicilian

"It's not fair, man," says a member of the gang who wants to remain anonymous, not to say alive. "Everyone talks about gangsters in the old USSR as being the Russian mafia, and people in Sicily have no problem with that. So why us?"

The gang says that if there are any more suspicious deaths, they will have to consider changing their name.

4. The council in Bath has spent so much money on its ill-starred Bath Spa scheme, which is still not open, that it has introduced many drastic economy measures, such as closing down pretty well all the publicly owned lavatories in Bath. A small Bath tour company has now started offering a guided walking tour called "The Lost Loos of Bath", which lasts two hours and takes walkers round the best of them. But now the council is taking them to court to force them to stop the tour, maintaining that the tour's very title is injurious to the reputation of the city.

5. Another story from Bath. Max Foster, the young owner of a moped, saw it being stolen and asked the police to pursue the thieves. Police said they could not do this, as the thieves were not wearing crash helmets. If they were injured in the chase, the police might be sued. Therefore no chase took place.

Well? Have you made your choice? Yes, of course. It was the man and his moped which was the true story. But you only knew that because you read it in the paper. That's what we call cheating. I am ashamed of you. Between now and the next test, no reading the papers! And if any of you start marketing three-course dinner-flavoured crisps for real, the mighty Independent computer's lawyer will be after you, on the grounds that it thought of it first.