Pay attention at the back: it's time for a news quiz

'New research suggests that bonsai trees feel pain, though the Japanese are unlikely to be moved by their plight'
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The Independent Online

Good news! It's time to test your knowledge of the news again! Yes, all readers have to be kept on their toes now and then, so today I'm going to find out just how much you take in of what goes on in the world, or, to put it another way, how well you tackle the job of reading The Independent.

Good news! It's time to test your knowledge of the news again! Yes, all readers have to be kept on their toes now and then, so today I'm going to find out just how much you take in of what goes on in the world, or, to put it another way, how well you tackle the job of reading The Independent.

It's a very simple test, as you'll know if you've done it before. What happens is that I bring you six news stories from the last week. But one of them has been made up and is not true. You have to spot which one it is. It's as easy as that.

Ready? Here we go.

1. A man called Colin Colgan, who gave two people a lift to Aberdeen from Scotch Corner, was amazed when, after half an hour sitting in the back, they started doing a dramatised performance of a little-known Chekhov short story entitled "What Happened Going to Church".

They explained to him afterwards that they were an Edinburgh Fringe show which had been unable to find a venue, so they had decided, rather than waste the show, to do it to people who picked them up as hitchhikers.

Colgan said later: "I quite enjoyed it, even though I couldn't really see much of what was going on in my rear-view mirror. I never thought I would ever get to the Edinburgh Festival! Well, I suppose I haven't been, as the nearest we got to Edinburgh was the Forth Road Bridge."

When he asked them how they got out of Edinburgh to start the show again, they told him they hitchhiked both ways. The company is called Auto-Stop and is available for performances, usually somewhere on the A(1)M.

2. A new magazine devoted to celebrity funerals and suicides called Goodbye Magazine is coming out next month. The publishers say they do not know who will be featured in it until the last minute.

3. Scientists think they may at last have found the answer to that age-old question: If the dog is man's best friend, who is dog's best friend?

"You'd think that 'Man' would be the answer," says Emil Chatwick, Professor of Animal Studies at Chiswick University, "but in fact, although man is sometimes quite nice to dogs, man is also responsible for almost all canine suffering and cruelty. I am afraid that at the moment it looks as if dogs themselves prefer the company of an old bedroom slipper to that of most humans."

4. An extraordinary statistic reveals that many traffic accidents along the South Coast of England are caused by people coming off cross-Channel ferries and driving on the wrong side of the road - but they are not foreign drivers! They are British people who are coming back from their holidays and have got so used to driving on the right that they forget to change back again.

"French drivers are very good by comparison," says a spokesman for the AA. "Well, that's rubbish of course. They are terrible drivers on the whole. But in this one respect - remembering to drive on the left - they are actually better than us."

5. New research suggests that bonsai trees can feel pain. The distortion and dwarfing to which they are subject causes arboreal nerves to clench and clump together, a process which can clearly be picked up by electronic measurement. There is now a move to get Japan to make bonsai trees illegal, though as the Japanese are unimpressed by the suffering of whales, they are unlikely to be moved by the plight of small twigs growing in ashtrays.

6. A local council in Manchester is believed to be the only place in Britain which has three councillors elected on a Taliban Party ticket. It only needs another five to get a majority and become the first Taliban local council in Britain.

"When I was forced out of Afghanistan," says councillor Ali Mansur, "I determined not to give up my Taliban beliefs, and so when I was granted refugee status in Britain, I went back into politics. If the Taliban gets a majority in Sporeswood (the name of the area), we will reintroduce all the major Taliban policies, including the death penalty for letting dogs foul the streets. We will also ban all music and all dancing."

Well, did you spot that the item about bonsai trees was totally fictitious? Well done! Of course, all the others were made up as well.

Honestly, you don't know who to trust these days, do you?

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