Have I got news for you, or not?

Click to follow
The Independent Online
We all like to think that we follow the news pretty closely, but do we really? How aware are we of the latest developments in world events? For instance, how well would we do when faced with a simple test on this week's news?

Well, let's find out! Here is a simple test. I'm going to print several "news stories" taken from the last few days, and all you have to do is say which ones are true, and which ones are made up. It's as easy as that.

Here we go now!

1. Stephen Dorrell's blitz on bureaucracy in the NHS, which is hoped to get rid of 30,000 jobs, will create a new team of more than 40,000 "bureaucrat-busters" whose job it will be to eliminate waste and overmanning.

2. Professor Sir Michael Howard, the eminent war historian, is suing the Home Secretary, Michael Howard, on the grounds that the use of their name by the latter is cheapening the reputation of the former. He wants Michael Howard either to change his name or resign.

3. One of the most scathing reviews of the new Beatles single "Free as a Bird " was written by, of all people, John Lennon. Among his papers was found a dismissal of the song by the composer as "a tawdry bit of sentiment", and an added note to the effect that "if Paul and George get their hands on this, I only hope the song will self-destruct out of a perverse sense of self-preservation".

4. Dave Lee Travis, the erstwhile Radio 1 disc jockey, is suing the inventors of the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. This unlikely court action has come about because Dave Lee Travis's career has slowed up recently and he blames this on the similarity between his familiar initials, DLT, and the familiar abbreviation for the sandwich, BLT. He does not claim that anyone confuses one with the other but that his initials (which came first) have been overshadowed by the universal sandwich name. He is seeking pounds 3m in damages, or sandwiches for life. Legal experts are following the case keenly, as it is the first time a snack has been sued by a jock.

5. A poll taken among the US peace-keeping force being sent out by President Clinton reveals that 10 per cent of them think they are going to Bosnia, 25 per cent to Northern Ireland and 65 per cent to the rougher parts of Washington DC.

6. The current wave of strike action in France is, it turns out, in protest against the Tahitian government's bomb-testing programme, which involves a random series of explosions in the middle of Paris.

7. The British government has devised a new campaign to defuse scare stories about "mad cow disease" or BSE. It is inventing a series of abbreviations which all bear the initials BSE so that very soon the initials BSE will lose their association with killer hamburgers. Among these new meanings of BSE are the new British Standards Executive, British Subways (Eastern), the Birmingham School of Ethics, the Bank of Scotland and Edinburgh, and the Bloody Scott Enquiry, as the Scott enquiry is known familiarly in cabinet circles. The Government is also thinking of asking the film censor to introduce a new film category of "BSE" ("Brutality, Sex and Ennui" ).

8. Which sporting feat this week was described as "perhaps the greatest act of endurance in modern games"? Was it: a) Atherton's innings which denied South Africa victory in the second Test? b) the performance of any TV viewer who persevered to the end of the latest snooker tournament; c) an official government judgement on anyone who gets involved with a business scheme with Terry Venables ?

9. A memo was recently circulated at the Home Office, warning all personnel not to trust any memos circulated in the next fortnight, as these were all going to be false memos designed to be leaked to the Labour Party to spread disinformation there. Unfortunately, the initial memo was leaked to the Labour Party.

10. The Queen Mother's hip replacement operation was not due for several months yet, but she was ordered to have it early in order to steal the royal limelight back from Princess Diana. The idea was that as the Queen Mum is the only royal who commands anything like the same support as Diana, she should be used as swiftly as possible to repair the damage done by "Dianarama", hence her visit to hospital and very public re-emergence. What is not so well-known is that the surgeons thought she was not ready for the hip replacement and the Queen Mother did not actually have the operation this time - she merely went through the motions - which is why she appeared to be walking so well afterwards. Her hip will be done in private next month.

Answers: they are all true, but all officially denied.

Comments