LUNG CONDITION AWARENESS CONCERN
CREDIT CARD SECURITY BREACH FEAR
And one that’s managed to slip in just a very short non-noun:
JAIL FOR HANDBAG FIRE ROW WOMAN
As one of my current favourite bloggers so rightly points out, headlines these days sound like cryptic crossword clues.
That said, there have certainly been some clever or otherwise memorable headlines over the years, and it seems fitting to celebrate them in a week that marked the 40th anniversary of The Sun newspaper, champion of boobies and Our Boys, and hater of anyone who won’t get their boobies out for Our Boys.
The Sun was first published in November 1969 with the headline ‘HORSE DOPE SENSATION’, which scores 7/10 on the string-of-nouns front but 0/10 for the pun-tastic ‘humour’ that has become the paper’s staple. Some Sun classics from over the years:
SUPER CALEY GO BALLISTIC, CELTIC ARE ATROCIOUS
(Caledonian Thistle thrash Celtic in Scottish Cup match)
IT’S PADDY PANTSDOWN!
(Paddy Ashdown has affair)
ZIP ME UP BEFORE YOU GO GO
(George Michael caught cruising in public toilets)
NO KNOBBY BOBBY KEEPS JOBBY
(Policeman becomes policewoman, retains job)
WE’RE ONLY HERE FOR DE BEERS
(Diamond heist at Millennium Dome)
CHEGGERS CAN’T BE BOOZERS
(Keith Chegwin told to quit drink)
That last one’s a bit mean, but it brings me neatly to my all-time favourite ‘headline’, which I fear is more urban myth than authentic since I can’t find any non-anecdotal reference to it: ABSINTHE MAKES THE FONDAS GROW HEARTIER. Genius.
Funnily enough, The Sun’s most famous headline of all time is one that was only ever seen by a small portion of Northern England. When Our Boys torpedoed the Argentine ship Belgrano during the Falklands War, the paper ran with the headline GOTCHA. The first print run had already gone off for distribution by the time the editor thought it might be prudent to tone it down a bit, so the rest of the country got the same story with what was presumably considered to be a much more restrained headline: DID 1,200 ARGIES DROWN?
While some ‘hilarious’ headlines are simply awful (WE’RE ON OUR WAY TUTU SOUTH AFRICA – England qualify for 2010 World Cup), and some are used with far too much regularity (HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE KOREA?), and others are in horrifically bad taste even for a tabloid (SHOOTS YOU, SIR – Gianni Versace murdered), the occasional nugget of true brilliance makes a compelling argument for establishing tabloids and local rags as national institutions.
My top ten from this week’s research:
10. BROWN: I NEED YOU TODAY, OH MANDY
(Peter Mandelson is recalled to the Cabinet)
9. FOOT HEADS ARMS BODY
(1980s MP Michael Foot chairs anti-nuclear lobby group)
8. MONTY FLIES BACK TO FRONT
(Field Marshal Montgomery returns by air to the WW2 frontline)
7. SICK TRANSIT’S GLORIOUS MONDAY
(Beleaguered New York transit system bailed out)
6. ‘CHARLIE’ CHAPLAIN
(Prison vicar admits smoking crack cocaine)
5. SCENTS AND SENSIBLE I.T.
(Estee Lauder gets new and improved computer system)
4. IKE ‘BEATS’ TINA TO DEATH
(Ike Turner dies before battered ex-wife Tina)
3. BOOK LACK IN ONGAR
(Librarians go on strike in Essex)
2. QUEEN IN BRAWL AT PALACE
(Crystal Palace player Gerry Queen sent off for on-pitch violence)
1. FOUR KESTRELS MANOEUVRE IN THE DARK
(Hertfordshire man awoken by kestrels falling down chimney)
I can’t leave this subject without posting one of my favourite jokes from b3ta.com (albeit in slightly unfortunate taste), entitled ‘The only headline they’ll ever need’.