I was moaning last week about interrogative headlines in the media. ‘What caused the Tories to lose Honiton and Tiverton?’ That sort of thing. It’s sloppy reporting, an easy get out. It should be along the lines of, ‘This is why the Tories lost Honiton and Tiverton.’ Or even, ‘Tories lost Honiton and Tiverton because “they’re a bunch of out of touch, money-grabbing lamebrains”’ That’s more like it. See you in court stuff.

A good headline tells you what you can expect to read. ‘Open-carry redneck shoots his penis off.’ That’s quite a common occurrence in  the US, actually. There are lots of other unintentional shootings in the States, sometimes not self inflicted but affecting others. Remember my blog about the guy in Georgia who tried to shoot an armadillo, the bullet ricocheted off, through the door of the trailer next door, through the back of a sofa, and hit his mother in law? You couldn’t do that if you tried could you? That would make a great headline. ‘Man shoots mother in law with armadillo.’ There’s a bit of pleasing ambiguity there too. You couldn’t not read the story, could you?

Anyway, enough retrospection. Back to the modern world, and a real blinder of a headline off Yahoo News. I owe my mate Susan Osada a drink for tagging me in this.

‘Breastfeeding mom fights off bald eagle to save pet goose.’

That’s great, isn’t it? Unequivocal, and you get the whole story in ten words. You can get more detail in the bodytext, but you’ve already got just about as much as you need to know. The rest is just icing on the cake.

I’ve written a lot about Americans and their eccentric interactions with the rest of the animal kingdom. For example, the drunk man trying to cheat the ignition lock breathalyser on his car by capturing a raccoon (out of a garbage can) and forcing it to breathe for him*. The man who lost an arm taking a selfie with a live rattlesnake. Only last week, the woman attacked by a bison that felt its calf was being threatened by her attempting to stroke it. She survived, by the way, though somewhat battered.

All great stories. But I have to say, ‘Breastfeeding mom fights off bald eagle to save pet goose’ pretty much takes the prize for Outstanding Contribution to the Headline Writer’s Art.

*That didn’t end well. The raccoon attacked him, and while he was fighting it off he lost control of his car, left the road, ploughed through a fence, and ended up in a swimming pool. Eat your heart out Keith Moon.