Leading Article: Cheers] Here's to you Ma'am

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The Independent Online
IT IS hard not to feel a twinge of sympathy for Wayne Hanson, 27. There you are in your new job at Sky Television when you see on an internal, closed-circuit screen a newscaster announcing that the Queen Mother has died. No one tells you this is a rehearsal. Your old mum back in Brisbane loves the Royal Family, so you pick up the phone and break the sad news. How are you to know that mum will then immediately tell the local radio station? Soon most of Australia is being told, the world is ringing Buckingham Palace and people everywhere are getting hot, bothered, angry and penitent. Meanwhile, the Queen Mother herself is upstairs, peacefully sleeping. It is the sort of thing Norman Wisdom used to do rather well.

The Queen Mother is said to be quietly amused. Wayne is sacked. It won't be much consolation to him, now jobless in Isleworth, that he has reminded us of the juggernaut speed of modern communication and the inevitability of human fallibility getting in the way of human sophistication. (Burns put it rather better with his bit about schemes ganging a-gley.) We should humbly remember Orson Welles and his invaders from Mars, remember every April fool we have ever fallen for. Nor ought newspapers to be smug. We exaggerated Mark Twain's death and have been killing off people with cruel regularity ever since. We do try, honestly, but to err is human. Norman Wisdom used to get his job back and marry the boss's daughter. Wayne, we fancy, will not be so lucky.

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