There's no news like old news

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The Independent Online
Today we tackle the question: where do old news stories go when they die? Or, to put it another way, why was everyone talking about female clergy one day as if nothing else in the world mattered, and the next they were forgotten? We have invited along the Fleet Street memory man, John Seedy-Rom, "the man in the Apple Mac", to answer your queries.

Well, why was everyone talking about female clergy one day as if nothing else in the world mattered and the next they were forgotten?

J Seedy-Rom writes: Because Dawn French made a sitcom about them. Statistics show that when a sitcom is made about a topic, nobody can ever take it seriously again.

Only the other day, the earthquake at Kobe in Japan was making headline news, but I have heard nothing about it at all since. Has the place been rebuilt already or what?

J Seedy-Rom writes: Not even the Japanese work that fast! They've started rebuilding the place, but reconstruction does not make good TV pictures in the way that destruction does. However, we shall be seeing pictures of Kobe in feature films for many years to come, as many film companies making pictures set in broken down metropolises of the future rush to Kobe to take footage of the destruction to use in forthcoming epics.

Has anything been learnt from the Kobe earthquake?

J Seedy-Rom writes: Yes. The only film footage picked up during the earthquake was from closed-circuit cameras inside banks and other buildings, which - being switched on day and night - took film of the earthquake as it happened. Almost all this film was black-and-white, and not well focused, and really a bit too grainy for news bulletin purposes. What we now know is that we must have good-quality closed-circuit colour TVs in places where there might be earthquakes.

Is the American baseball strike still going on? Have the players got the money they were after?

J Seedy-Rom writes: It's still going on, but it was never about money, The fact is that the baseball champions for the last two years have been the Toronto Blue Jays, and the American psyche cannot come to grips with the idea of the national game being won by foreigners. So they are trying to get rid of the game altogether. This seems odd to us, as we have come to terms with the idea of Wimbledon being won now and again by non-Britishers.

What news of Eric Cantona?

J Seedy-Ram writes: One thing that has gone unnoticed in the Eric Cantona case is the oddity of his first name, as Eric is not a French name or even, considering his ancestry, an Italian name. He is not, however, the first man of this name in French history, as he was preceded by Erik Satie. Satie's full name, interestingly, was Erik Leslie Satie, because of his Scottish mother, thus making him the only Leslie in all French history.

What's all this got to do with Cantona and football?

J Seedy-Rom writes: Nothing. But it is not wise to comment directly on his case. One does not want stud marks suddenly appearing on one's chest.

Whatever happened to David Mellor?

J Seedy-Rom writes: Nothing much then and not much more now.

Euro Disney was much in the news for a while and then vanished. What happened?

J Seedy-Rom writes: The British media do not think that their customers can handle more than one Euro-story at the same time. The Euro Disney stories were all replaced by Euro-train stories, and Euro-train stories were replaced by Euro-sceptic stories.

Makes sense, But what has happened to Euro Disney?

J Seedy-Rom writes: It has been flattened to make way for the sporting complex that will house the next World Cup football tournament, which France had very much hoped to win under its inspirational captain Eric Claptona.

Shouldn't that be Eric Cantona, not Claptona

J Seedy-Rom writes: Oops, yes, sorry.

Why is Peter Sellers all over the news suddenly? It can't be 100 years since he died, can it?

J Seedy-Rom writes: Yes, odd that. I can only assume people got withdrawal symptoms after the mass coverage of Peter Cook and decided to cover Peter Sellers instead. You might as well ask why Oscar Wilde was all over the news suddenly.

Why was Oscar Wilde all over the news suddenly?

J Seedy-Rom writes: Because it is exactly 100 years since he made the remark which puts Michael Howard so cruelly into focus: "A community is infinitely more brutalised by the habitual employment of punishment than it is by the occasional occurrence of crime."