Wednesday, 29 February 2012

How To Write Headlines

All news should be Yahoo news.

I only have a yahoo email account because I needed it to join Flickr, otherwise I might never have discovered the joy of Yahoo news. However, had I only known the quality of headlines the home page provided (not to mention the shockingly bad spam filters – the other week I won the Irish, Spanish and African lotteries within 24 hours of one another. Yes, the one African lottery. Because there aren’t more than fifty countries there) I would have signed up years ago.

But what has prompted me to write in praise of Yahoo news on this particular day? I’m glad you asked. It can only be the headline:

Flatworms Key to Immortality?

‘Of course not,’ you might think, but there again… it’s a headline you can’t not click.

Even though you know that this is going to be some scientific research in a university somewhere (Dr Aziz Aboobaker in Nottingham, as it happens), the moments between reading and clicking the link are magnificent in their potential.

How do they know flatworms are the key to immortality? Have the authorities uncovered an old man in a hole somewhere who thinks its 1203 and has eaten nothing but worms for centuries? And how do you test immortality, anyway? Stand someone in a bucket of worms and wait?

For me, the headline conjures up an image of a flatworm with the accent and acting prowess of Christopher Lambert in Highlander.

“Och, Docteur Aziz,” it says dramatically, “you know there can only be weun. Hoots.”

In my mind, the doctor is played by an as yet undecided Scottish actor (although if I could cast anyone at all it would be the late great Gerard Kelly, who did a fantastic villain as you’ll know if you ever saw him in Brookside) hell bent on discovering the secret of eternal life through any means necessary.

He has dedicated his life to the cause of immortality but is gradually descending deeper into madness as the secret eludes him. The film of his life starts out with the young doctor playing in the garden and finding Christopher Lambert worm, whom he decides to keep as a pet. As the film progresses we realise this young doctor was not Aziz at all, but his grandfather or great grandfather, who pass down Christopher Lambert worm through the ages. He never seems to get any older.

Aziz becomes interested in science exclusively because he wants to find out the secret of the ever youthful flatworm, but after getting his doctorate and a research position at a university, things begin to spiral out of control. Later scenes in the film include him taking a bath of flatworms, and he would also eat them in increasingly brutal and gory ways.

The Christopher Lambert worm tries to stop him from continuing his worm murders, but to no avail. Aziz kills the Christopher Lambert worm but is then distraught when he realises if the worm could be killed, it is not immortal after all. He goes on to die alone in a hovel on a hill in Italy at the age of 106, surrounded by worm related paraphernalia.

At which point the camera cuts to Christopher Lambert worm, alive and living on a beach somewhere.

You have to admit, this film has basically everything. No bearing on the actual article, of course, but even so.

And that, Dear Reader, is why I like Yahoo News.

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