READERS of this column will know by now that I am inclined to be satirical - especially when the full moon is about and there's an "r" in the month.

But it's hard to be a satirist in a world gone mad. I mean, any nonsense I might dream up during the morning has usually been surpassed by greater insanities come lunchtime. Take last weekend for example, a typical interlude in the ongoing life of the national asylum. I opened the paper to find...

First, that the Scottish Arts Council has appointed a person to be Suicide Poet at a salary of £4,000. Well, I knew the Scots were a miserable and legendarily dour crowd of pie-scoffing alcoholics and unreconstructed socialists. But surely not even the Scots are so miserable that they need a suicide laureate. How will he begin, this paid resident misery-guts: "Alas I am a clapped out Jock... I'll drown myself in yonder loch".

I'm not making this up. I turned a page in the paper and saw the shocking headline: FOUNTAIN PENS TOO RISKY FOR UNDER 14S. I know, of course, that the whole system of enlightened modern educational theory is designed to ensure that children leave school perfectly politically-correct but as ignorant as they were the day they started. But I didn't dream that that heart of intellectual darkness, the Department of Education, would go so far as to allow leaflets warning against dangerous fountain pens in the classroom.

Turn over again and there's the distressing announcement: RUPERT THE BEAR GETS MAKEOVER. Yes, it looks as if Rupert is set to announce he's the only gay in Nutwood. It's official: "Rupert has been given a rounder look and his brown boots have been replaced by pink trainers. Also he only has three fingers." So the bear beloved of all our childhoods is being turned into a fat homosexual with a deformed hand. To be followed by Bill Badger the famous paedophile, I suppose?

Another newspaper prints a whole new supplement to frighten us to death with news of a new disease: COPYD - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It's like asthma and emphysema only worse and, according to the cheery news in the graveyard supplement, it's killing 30,000 of us every year and is set to be the third biggest cause of death after lung cancer and heart disease. This good news of fresh and interesting ways to snuff it is padded out - you'll see what I mean in a minute - with case studies. The first with a picture of a bloated biddy filling a seat the size of an aircraft carrier. This self-pitying ton of lard says: "I was a 40-a-day cigarette smoker suffering years of breathlessness and recurrent chest pains and infections. I couldn't breathe and the slightest movement made me tired."

Gerraway! Didn't it occur to this colossal smokestack to chuck the fags, eat less than a dead horse with a forest of chips three times a day and begin a gentle exercise programme? The woman lives this morbid life and wonders - for years, mind you - why she feels so poorly. Perhaps she ought to be put in touch with the suicide poet - or Rupert? You see what I mean about the sorrows of the satirist? You couldn't make it up. Too daft to laugh at. What next? Shock revelation:

Man gets in bath says: "Suddenly I was wet all over..."

* Peter Mullen is Rector of St Michael's, Cornhill, in the City of London, and Chaplain to the Stock Exchange.