Sometimes you just have to laugh in the face of tragedy - or at least the unfunny. I nearly always laugh at the sketch when the coffin bursts out of the tailgate of the hearse as it struggles up a steep incline - landing on some form of strategically placed transport which conveys the freewheeling corpse off down the hill with mourners in wild pursuit. And I laughed when I rang my medical insurance company to check my cover on the day I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer - and was told I qualified for a £100 M & S voucher. At the time I asked whether M&S sold wreathes. It now seems that that might even have qualified as an office expense!! And then there was the terrible accident in an old fashioned Australian 'dunny' when too vigorous a pull on the chain brought the cast iron cistern down on the poor fellow's head with fatal consequences.
There was just such a story in yesterday's Telegraph. Mr Wang Diange was found dead in the wreckage of his house in the province of Inner Mongolia. Such was the damage that the investigating authorities concluded that it could only have been caused by lightning. Anyway, when Mr Wang's body was entering the crematorium chamber, it blew up, bursting the doors off the oven, and causing much damage to the building. Gave the mourners a fright as well. Further investigations revealed that it wasn't lightening after all.
What had happened was that the regional weather bureau had fired a series of weather rockets into the air with the intention of breaking up hailstones to protect the local tobacco crop. But it seems that one or more shells had failed to explode and had dropped back to earth, landing smack on top of Mr Wang's house. In fact one shell had lodged itself in his body, which was so damaged that it passed unnoticed - until the heat of the crematorium chamber caused it to explode. Three years later, Mr Wang's family have received £8,000 compensation from the weather bureau.
And I read in today's Telegraph that in New York, the State Government is about to introduce an iPod tax. You just couldn't make some of these things up.