Truth or lies? Or is it all just news to you? Here is the quiz that reveals all

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The Independent Online
HOW WELL do you follow the news? Quite well? Very well? So well that you could actually answer quiz questions about it? Well, that's just what's going to happen now, so put your money where your mouth is, stranger!

What I'm going to do here and now is bring you six news stories dating from the last week.

One of them is untrue.

Yes, all you have to do is spot an untrue news story.

Sounds easy, doesn't it? Think you can do it? Let's go!

Here are the six stories.

1. Robin Cook is very worried by the failure of his "ethical" foreign policy in Indonesia, i.e. by the use of British tanks and arms against the students in Jakarta. It is a bit late to get the repressive arms back again, so Mr Cook has sent out a secret envoy to discuss a multi-million deal whereby arms will be sold, on unlimited credit, to the students.

2. The one person who has come out of the Northern Ireland situation unblemished is Senator Mitchell. Trusted by all sides, seen by all as a man who will listen endlessly and not do any propagandising himself, he is accepted by everyone as a man who is above sectarianism. It now turns out that this was for a reason which had nothing to do with his personal qualities; it was because he found the Northern Ireland accents of all concerned absolutely impenetrable, and has barely understood a single word addressed to him since he arrived in the province. This, and this alone, explains his aura of godlike detachment. A man who cannot understand what is said to him will never be upset or angered by it.

3. One of the resignations at the beleaguered Arts Council which has gone unpublicised is that of the chairman of the Wine Advisory Panel, Mr Ralph Pepler. It was Mr Pepler's job to advise on the wine supplies for all launch parties, first nights, private views, receptions, Arts Council lunches etc. Not only did he advise on wine policy but he controlled a considerable budget, with over pounds 50,000 worth of wine passing through his hands every month. Now he has resigned in protest against Mr Gerry Robinson's policies, but that is not all - all the wine he currently controls has vanished as well. Police are urgently looking for a quiet, bespectacled man of about fifty with a small beard and a huge white van marked "Arts Council Wines on the Move!". They caution the public to be careful if they spot him. "This man is dangerously affable, and can drink anyone under the table," they warn.

4. If Mr Blair speaks French as well as he seems to, he will no doubt know that his name has an odd meaning in French. Yes, the French do have a word blair in their language. It is the slang word for "nose", or as we would say, "hooter" or "conk". "Je l'ai dans le blair" means "I have him in my nose" or, as we would say, "he gets up my nose." "Blairer", the verb, means to sniff, to smell and also to smell badly. "Je ne peux pas le blairer" means "I can't stand him." "Cela blaire" means "That smells a bit off" or "That doesn't half pong." So "Tony Blair" to French ears means "Tony stinks." That is why the French nickname for our Prime Minister is "Smelly".

5. The untold story about the release of the two British nurses from a Saudi prison is that they were given a pardon by the Saudi authorities on condition that the Saudi Arabian football team were to be allowed to get away without being defeated by England at Wembley at the weekend. The Saudi Arabian team also proposed a deal whereby, if England did happen to win, all charges against Jonathan Aitken would have to be dropped, but Glenn Hoddle would not countenance this.

6. The report last week that Christie's, the Bond Street auctioneers, has been sold to a French firm for pounds 721m was somewhat premature. On examination, the French firm discovered that what they had been sold was not the real Christie's at all, but a rather crude fake company which bore the same name. A spokesman for the delighted real Christie's said: "You'd be surprised how often we get foreign people to hand over millions of pounds for a load of old tosh, and what a kick we get out of it. And I think we've done it again! Get the champagne out!"

That's it. Those are the six news stories. As I said, one of them is untrue. What I didn't tell you is that the other five are untrue as well. Well, that's news reporting for you ....

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