PIONEERED by The Daily Telegraph, which still heads the field, the newspaper Obituary has become a minor art form of journalism (aren't they all?).

Poles and Littlefield, scriptwriters for such TV hits as Dead Ringers and Have I Got News For You?

wittily send up the form - their subjects not people though sometimes coming close.

Loading article content

Thus - Gordon Brown's Dourness 1994-2007: "Gordon Brown's Dourness, the scowl that resided upon the Chancellor's face for so many years, has died, passing away - by extraordinary cosmic coincidence - at exactly the same time his best friend, Tony Blair, announced his decision to stand down as Labour leader Gordon Brown's Dourness has already been buried in an unmarked grave. During the ceremony close friends and family sang an up-tempo version of Dear Prudence' - though best friend Tony Blair was unable to attend."

Also mourned is The Chelsea Tractor 1941-2006: "Middle-class West London mums and Jeremy Clarkson have been united in mourning the untimely death of The Chelsea Tractor, 4x4', SUV' or 4WD': the powerful beasts that once roamed roads across the globe and which, for many, came to epitomise strength, versatility and total disregard for the environment The Chelsea Tractor will be buried under a mountain of high petrol prices and increased environmental awareness. It is survived by an increasing number of erratic cyclists, scooters, bendy buses, the Smart car and trees."

Brilliant - and there are scores more, as diverse as NHS Dentistry, The Weekly Rubbish Collection, Lord Reith's Legacy and a Simple Cup of Coffee. Particularly clever is The Death of Diana, Princess of Wales 1997-2006: "A grieving nation woke this morning to the news that The Death of Diana, Princess of Wales - which has exercised bloggers, newspaper columnists and other members of the personality-disordered classes for the last nine years - has died. According to police accounts The Death was being driven at speed by an Egyptian man drunk on money when it ran completely out of control The Death of Diana is survived by the Death of JFK, the Death of Elvis and the Death of Sanity."