The Ones That Got Away
I was thinking the other day about great headlines that never were. You know: the ones that when they occur to you make you think "Surely somebody on a newspaper must have thought of this before I did".
OK, the one that I was immediately reminded of would have been too rude, or sick, or both, for a mainstream news article, but I'm quite sure somebody like Private Eye could have run it. You see, back in 1979 Frank Zappa released a wonderful album entitled Joe's Garage, which included the song Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?. In the album credits, Frank offers 'Special thanks to Phil Kaufman for asking the eternal question: "Why does it hurt when I pee?" '. Then in 1993 FZ died of prostate cancer, and it struck me that ETERNAL QUESTION NOW RESOLVED would have been the kind of headline for the story that Frank would probably have appreciated.
A headline I am seriously amazed nobody thought of, though, was back in January 1985. At Christmas a few weeks before, the biggest-selling single was Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas which was of course recorded to raise funds for the victims of the famine in Ethiopia. Bob Geldof, whose idea the record had been, flew out to Ethiopia in January to see what the situation was like and how the funds raised were going to be used. He was rather taken aback - I remember seeing the news footage - when he got off the plane to find the Ethiopians all celebrating Christmas, as they use a different calendar there. Now - what would you expect a headline writer to have made of that? Do you not think that someone, somewhere, would have come up with DOES HE KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS? to accompany a shot of the bemused Bob?
Is it just me, or have any of my readers had the experience of coming up with a headline that the real journalists missed?