Wednesday 30th March. Thousands of people around the globe are fighting to come to terms with the news tonight that the Pope still isn't dead.
Despite daily news releases highlighting the aged pontiff's failing health the Vatican released a statement early this evening claiming that he was "very much alive and looking forward to pizza for dinner".
The Pope has been admitted to hospital twice in the last month, the most recent visit requiring him to have serious throat surgery to his throat. The Pontiff's health has been steadily deteriorating for several years - it was announced three years ago that he is suffering from Parkinson's disease. Despite these set-backs it has only been recently that he has been unable to fulfill his duties - most notably at the weekend when an aid had to finish reading his Easter message for him.
The constant news reports from Rome have prompted millions of ghoulish news watchers around the world to log on to the internet almost hourly for news of his passing, but so far it hasn't been forthcoming, "I've been glued to Sky News for almost two weeks now, " said Robert Uppenden from Woking, "and I've also been monitoring Reuters Online but John Paul II seems to be a tough cookie"!
British bookmaker William Hill, who regularly take bets on which celebrity will be next to die, have slashed the odds on the leader of the Catholic Church croaking from 7-1 to 5-4, just behind Keith Richards and Kirk Douglas. "We've had a flurry of bets in the last week, " said spokesman Simon McDonald, "if he goes soon we'll be paying out quite a large sum to punters".
JOB FOR LIFE
The papacy is widely considered to be one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. "All of the previous Popes have died whilst still in office so we don't get too many applications for the role," said Cardinal Smith at a Vatican press conference recently. He went on to add, "as soon as you get the gig it's literally a job for life. The disadvantage is, like the mafia, you can never leave".