Revenge of the fat rats

'The rat never saw any of the money, which went on legal expenses, for do not forget you are never further than 10 feet from a lawyer'
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The Independent Online

Today, three modern tales for our modern times.

Today, three modern tales for our modern times.

1. There were in the early 21st century some citizens of America who thought they had become so obese from eating McDonalds hamburgers that they decided to sue McDonalds for not warning them about the fat-making qualities of their burgers.

In Britain, at the same time, it was discovered that the rat population of Britain was increasing rapidly because they had a quick and easy diet from the discarded wrappers and half-eaten burgers thrown away by the British public, who had once been careful about litter but were now ready to believe that someone else would pick up all the rubbish. We had always known that you were never further than 10 feet from the nearest rat, but now, if you were standing outside a fast food joint, you were a lot closer.

Soon the inevitable happened. The rat population of Britain began to suffer from obesity and poor heart condition, especially in Scotland, where rubbish is first deep-fried in batter before being thrown away.

And after that, equally inevitably, the first rat decided to sue McDonalds for not putting a warning on their discarded rubbish that a diet of fast food might lead to obesity in rats.

The case was fought fiercely. McDonalds sent in their most savage team of lawyers. But the rat had hired the cleverest barrister available, who produced several vegetarian rats in court to show how slim they were beside his bloated client, and the rat was awarded the case, and £500,000 in damages.

Alas, he never saw any of the money, which all went to legal expenses, for do not forget that in modern Britain you are never further than 10 feet from the nearest lawyer.

2. Once upon a time there was a man who left it till the last moment to book his holiday. But this year demand for holidays had been very high, and when he went to his travel agent, the travel agent shook his head and said: "I am afraid we have nothing in the next two weeks at all."

"Nothing?" asked the man. "NOTHING?"

"Nothing," said the travel agent. Then, looking round to make sure he was not overheard, he said, "However, I could do you something in the last two weeks."

"I'm sorry?"

"We are just starting an experimental line in time-travel holidays," said the travel agent. "They are cheap at the moment because they are experimental. For instance, I can do you a fortnight in the 1950s for as little as £4,000."

"That's not very little."

"It is, when translated into 1950s money. That would only be about £360 in the currency of the time."

The upshot was that the man agreed to take a time-travel holiday in the 1950s, and indeed had a very pleasant time when he got there. To the end of his days he really believed he had been sent back to the 1950s, and never realised he had merely been dispatched to rural New Zealand in 2002.

3. A farmer and his wife grew wheat for their living, but by and by the bottom fell out of the wheat market and they decided to diversify.

"Into what?" said the farmer, who, like all farmers, had little imagination.

"I've got a good idea," said the farmer's wife who, like all farmer's wives, had the lion's share of initiative in the family. "Wild flowers are very popular these days. Why don't we grow wild flowers? Whenever people stop and look at our wheat fields, it's not the wheat they admire – it's always the lovely red poppies they are looking at."

"Bloody things," grumbled the farmer. "I've been spraying them with so much weed-killer and poison that I am surprised people are still alive after eating the bread made from our wheat."

"Well, in future we shall keep the poppies alive and sell them and their seeds for lots of money," said his wife.

And so they did, and Farm Fresh Wild Flowers became a famous brand name for poppies and sunflowers and orchids and many other blooms. The only great disadvantage was that wheat is very difficult to root out entirely, and the poppy fields were regularly being disfigured by the clumps and patches of wheat growing back again.

"There is only one thing for it," said the farmer. "We must spray the fields with a really powerful wheaticide."

And so they did, and it cleared up the problem. Anyone who bought the poppies and converted the poppies into a mild form of drug, or even into poppy seeds for cake decoration, however, found themselves perpetually falling ill, and never suspected it was because of the poison which had been sprayed on the wheat.