Berry pickers find a price tag on their wounds

Funny story written by Harry Porter

Tuesday, 13 July 2004

image for Berry pickers find a price tag on their wounds
Mr McConnell - 'An epidemic of pricks'

Hospital staff in Scotland are gearing up for their busiest time of the year - berrying.

But the hordes who hit the Highland hills now face being hit in the pocket.

The little-known tradition sees parents, usually with young children, heading into the countryside to be ripped to shreds in search of raspberries and brambles.

For hundreds of years, Scots have paid this heavy price to gather the fruit for their jam.

Blood is always shed, clothes are snared, eyeballs are scratched and sometimes entire families are separated for months by miles of thorn.

All for a punnet of berries.

Now Scotland's First Minister, Jack McConnell, has called time on the berry-pickers and is set to impose charges of up to £1,000 for every single one hospitalised.

"In areas like Perthshire, August and September can see casualty departments stowed to the gunnels with bleeding berry pickers," said Mr McConnell.

"It has to stop; we're no longer going to pick up the bill for an epidemic of berry injuries."

Now accident and emergency departments will check for soft fruit stains before attempting to remove any embedded thorns or stitch up gashes or dangly bits of flesh.

The victims, if still conscious, will be required to sign a form guaranteeing the full payment of any treatment.

But the fines haven't met with approval everywhere.

Ruby McFarlane, Chairwoman of the Fife and Tayside Domestic Jam Industries Circle, said: "Berry picking is as much a tradition as Hogmanay and these new penalties reek of someone out of touch with ordinary people.

"Jam doesn't taste like jam unless there's some of the bairns' blood in it."

The funny story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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