What comes first, the chicken or tuition fees?

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The Independent Online

At a time when the rest of the media are going mad about tuition fees and the Hutton Report, I think it is my duty to provide a haven from these two unalluring topics and provide a quick, easy-to-digest guide to all the really vital things that are still going on in the world, unnoticed and forgotten.

Q. Oh? Is there anything really more important than tuition fees and Hutton?

A. Oh, yes. For example, the planet is slowly sliding towards self-destruction through pollution, exhaustion of resources, over-population, rain forest depletion and the deteriorating standard of films shown on long-haul flights...

Q. Yes, yes, we know all about that. But isn't there anything really interesting going on?

A. Oh, sure. There's the return of Sars to China . . .

Q. Blimey. How has that thing started up again?

A. Well, because they've just had the Chinese New Year, a time when so many Chinese travel hundreds of miles to visit their families, taking the germ with them.

Q. Still, if Sars is confined to China, that won't worry us, will it?

A. No. Unlike the new chicken flu.

Q. What new chicken flu?

A. Chickens in Thailand and Vietnam are catching a virulent new flu virus.

Q. Why?

A. At this time of year chickens traditionally like to travel hundreds of miles to visit their families, pick up new germs and return to Thailand and Vietnam

Q. Still, if chicken flu is confined to Thailand and Vietnam, that won't worry us, will it?

A. Ah, but chickens also like to be slaughtered and have their breasts and joints exported to Britain for use in sandwiches and various products of our supermarkets.

Q. Oh, Lord. How will I know if the chicken I eat in a Chicken Tikka Sandwich, or Chicken Mis-Shape, or Chicken Gristleburger, has come from Thailand and carries chicken flu, not to mention lots of breast-enlarging hormones?

A. All chicken products in Britain have to be very carefully labelled, to conceal their origins. So if you see a chicken labelled "Chicken", that means that it comes from abroad.

Q. And if it's labelled "Farm Chicken" instead?

A. That means that it comes from a farm abroad.

Q. And if it's labelled "Farm Chicken, Allowed to Roam Freely"?

A. That means it's been allowed to roam from Thailand or Vietnam to Britain.

Q. Oh. Well, would I be safer off if I stuck to eating smoked chicken? I mean, if a chicken has been smoked, won't that have killed the germs in it?

A. It depends what the chicken has been smoking. We now know that cannabis damages the brain, so you might be eating smoked chicken that not only passes on virulent flu, but also short term memory loss and...

Q. And what?

A. I forget.

Q. What will the government do about this?

A. Oh, they have already acted with their customary zeal and speed! Chicken has, with immediate effect, been downgraded to a Class C bird! They have brought in new chicken league tables! They have set up a new regulatory body, Ofcoq, which will set up new chicken targets! They have made it illegal to drive while eating a chicken sandwich! They have put a tax on chicken dinners which will help to pay for more speed cameras!

Q. How will this make things better?

A. It won't. But it will make things seem better. That is what New Labour is all about. Making things seem better.

Q. We seem to have got back to Hutton and tuition fees, don't we?

A. Yes, we seem to.