The Health Secretary yesterday unveiled a £5 million plan to encourage healthy eating. Under the controversial plan, a range of gambling devices will be installed in chip shops, schools and arcades acrosss the country. These machines will differ from the usual fruit machines, however, in that they will contain real fruit.
John Prescott explained further: "It's a relatively simple concept that I will, nevertheless proceed to elaborate upon on great detail. With your usual fruit machine, you put in, say, 20 pence, and, if you get 3 cherries, you win a pound. With the new machines, if you get 3 cherries you actually win 3 cherries which are dispensed through the bottom of the machine in a plastic bag for hygiene reasons. If you get 3 bunches of grapes, that's what you win."
Mr Prescott was more hesitant when pressed on the feasibility of storing numerous melons, eventually settling on reserving the tasteless, watery fruit for the top prize. He refused to confirm, however, if these would also be dispensed in plastic bags.
There was concern, however, from some quarters last night, including the popular TV comedic actress Ruth Madoc, who was introduced to blackberries as an adolescent: "From there it was just a downward spiral to bananas, satsumas, peaches and, eventually, coconuts", she said from her Bermudan treetop carnival village yesterday. "I even got in to figs and almonds at one point."
Fruit has a long and noble history going back to Adam and Eve, who were tempted by the serpent to eat an apple, despite the presence of many more delicious varieties of fruit in the Garden of Eden.
William Tell famously split an apple in two, that was resting on the head of his son, with a single bolt from his crossbow.
Sailors fought off scurvy on long voyages by consuming lemons or limes, creating the name 'limey' for a British sailor, which Americans now use to refer to anyone who is British.
The Beatles had a particularly strong relationship with fruit. Their record label was called 'Apple' and one of their best known songs is 'Strawberry Fields Forever'.
Fruit continues to exact its intractable grip upon the imagination. At present, you might be seen carrying an Orange phone or using a Blackberry communicator, for example.