This England

Speaking after the verdict, Mr Johnstone's sister, Ann Turner, said she was delighted the two boys had been found guilty. She said: "I'm very pleased indeed. I don't feel any sympathy for those boys, as when they set fire to his hair and beard, fair enough, it could have been a practical joke. But to finish him off, no way." - Guardian (B A Jackson)

Christ's birth should be celebrated on 27 December to get away from the "madness" that Christmas Day had become, suggested the Reverend Martin Swan, 48, of Trinity Methodist Church in Heywood, Manchester. - Guardian (Imogen Forster)

The dead cats, made in China from rabbit fur, are the surprise hit of the summer, catching the imagination of people looking for a replacement for Billy Bass, the singing fish. - Sunday Times (John O'Byrne)

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This article first appeared in the 10 December 2001 issue of the New Statesman, The New Statesman Special Report - The great Koran con trick