Given that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that Good Podcasts do nothing, this week's edition of The Reducer podcast decided to take up arms in the fight against Fake News.
You may recently have found your WhatsApp groups assailed of tales involving Jermaine Pennant, one of which drew in Rafael Benitez. It was claimed that these stories originated from Pennant's new autobiography, Mental: Bad Behaviour, Ugly Truths, and the Beautiful Game, so being the sceptical, cynical podcasting juggernaut* that we are, we decided to read the book to see if these tales were actually true.
As it turns out, they weren't. Nope, the truth was waaaaayyyyy crazier.
At this point we will direct you toward the full podcast. Subscribe to the show on iTunes or by searching 'The Reducer' wherever you get your podcasts.
The Pennant episode is also embedded below if you want to give it a whirl before realising that the show is the hour your week was missing all along.
Some of the tales unspooling through the book are berserk, and we profile a few of them in this week's show. The maddest of all, however, is undoubtedly the opening salvo in a chapter entitled Women.
It runs for a couple of pages, and we'll quote parts of it below.
The chapter begins with the sentence "I've been out with some beautiful women down the years. That's what happens when you're a footballer. It tends to go with the territory", which naturally leads into a grisly tale in which Pennant's dog butchers his girlfriend's Persian cat.
Read on with some caution: it gets pretty gruesome at times.
We'd been going out for a while and, eventually, she moved in with me. The only problem was that I had a dog and she had two cats. There was always going to be a problem. Mine was a Japanese dog, an Akita, called Shadow. He had a white body with a black face. He was a very scary guy!
She had two white cats, really expensive Persians, special house cats. So every time they were in the house, we had to make sure the dog was outside. Shadow was a real beast and every time he saw the cats near the window, he would come racing up, jump at the door, try to get in - and he was an absolute menace.
Anyway, whenever we went away for the weekend, my mate Sam would come round to the house and check on them, make sure they were all OK. One day, we were away and I got a call from Sam.
He was very nervous, really worried, on the other end of the line, saying, 'Are you on your own or with Jennifer?' I just told him to tell me what he'd rung for - he sounded in a bit of a state.
He said, 'Shadow's killed the cat. I mean J, he's absolutely massacred it. That back door in the living room onto the patio, it wasn't locked, and he must've forced the door open. They must've been strolling around the living room. The dog must've thought, 'I've had enough of this - I'm going to get them'.
One of them must have darted out the door and the other upstairs. Shadow must have caught one of the dogs on the landing because there is blood everywhere'.
Sam took a picture of the scene and sent it to me. As he said, there was blood everywhere - like you've never seen. All over the carpets, the wall, the banister.
This Persian cat was very dead.
I can't imagine the fear of the poor thing. It was a really horrendous, distressing scene.
I was feeling sick and panicking like mad. Myself and Sam came up with this story that the cat had escaped through a window in the wardrobe room. We had to organise a professional carpet cleaner to comoe round, and a painter and decorator because we needed to completely repaint the walls...
...I had to tell Jennifer that we could not go home straight away. Sam had to get the mess cleaned up. Then luckily, the other cat turned up, pining at the door....
Then, when we got back home, Jennifer was really upset for ages. She went around the neighbourhood, saying, 'Have you seen this cat?' Then, at work, she printed off posters with a pciture of the cat, offering a reward.
I knew all along, but had to play along, 'Yeah, that's a good idea'.
There I was, driving into training, and I was seeing posters all around Liverpool appealing for a white cat. I was thinking, 'Shal I tell her?' But, until now, I've not said a word.
"This Persian cat is very dead" is quite the iconic line.
Listen to the podcast for more such tales, or get them all by buying the book, which is available now.
*The Reducer's views do not necessarily represent those of the Oxford English Dictionary.